How-to: DIY “weathered zinc” pendant lamp

I dusted off my DIY skills and decided to do something about that ho-hum pendant lamp in my kitchen.

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It bothered me that the pendant light wasn’t centered over our table, and as long as I was uninstalling it to lengthen the chain I might as well do something fun with the color. I mused over spray-painting it bright yellow, but decided something deeper, more grounding was in order.

If I had all the money in the world and nothing better to do with it than decorate, I would probably get a pendent like one of these kick-ass pendants.

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But since I don’t have all the money in the world, and what I do have can’t all go toward decorating, I had to get creative.

I took the inspiration of the weathered zinc look with the gilded inside. Here’s another beauty to look at.

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And I decided to make something similar out of the one I already had. Let me walk you through it.

1) Uninstall your light. My kids were around to tell me I should wait until Daddy got home to help, and then I pridefully told them I was the only one in the household with electrical skills. That alone was worth the project.

2) Remove the light bulb and use painter’s tape to tape off the place where the bulb get screwed in and also along the edge where you want to have the colors meet.

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3) Sand that baby. I sanded mine for about 30 seconds before I decided it probably wouldn’t make thaaaat much of a difference, and mine turned out just fine.

4) Paint the inside. I started with the gilded inner dome because I figured I would need to handle the outer part a lot more. I used Rustoleum’s Metallic Paint & Primer spray paint in Pure Gold. I chose this one because it’s more of a muted gold, but there are more glitzy metallic gold spray paints out there too if that’s what you like.8d98a333-15cf-4cbd-bf64-83cc46bf47ab_400

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5) Paint the outside with chalkboard paint to get that zinc look (and read on for the chalk trick). I used Rustoleum’s Chalk Board Spray Paint. 81UBSA8pQpL._SL1500_

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6) Paint the chain, cord, and the top (if there’s a top that you want to look slightly different than the outer dome like in the expensive examples above). I used Rustoleum Metallic Paint & Primer spray paint in Flat Soft Iron for the chain.ffd73373-cf06-4e55-b889-249078979e02_400

7) Wait about 20 minutes and then do a second coat on everything.

8) Reinstall after it dries completely. I waited about 24 hours.

9) Here’s the chalk trick! To get that weathered zinc look, I took a wet paper towel and rubbed white chalk on it, then I rubbed the paper towel around in different sweeping horizontal-ish motions until it had the right look. Go at it a few times. There’s no way to mess this part up because it’s chalkboard paint and you can always clean it off with a wet paper towel and start over. I took a few tries before it was exactly the way I wanted it.
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Now wasn’t that easy?! I’m loving my new kick-ass “weathered zinc” pendant lamp!

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Top 8 reasons to cook with cast iron

EUREKA-MIA...

Our own non-stick cookware was wearing down, and it was just the impetus I needed to quit cooking with a chemical that is hazardous to children and small animals.

With the endorsements of good foodies, and a hefty amount of research, I decided on cast iron. Here are the top 8 reasons for cooking with cast iron:

8) The pros do it. Check out this page of pan-roasting with a cast iron skillet at Bon Appetit and try to tell me you’re not impressed.

7) Function wins: it distributes heat evenly for perfect cooking, and you can move it from stovetop to oven. But since the heat is dispersed evenly throughout the pan, that motherf*cker heats up pretty damn quickly. Watch the handle.

6) A seasoned (oiled) pan functions like a “non-stick” pan and the food in it tastes way better than cooking spray. It just makes sense that food tastes better than chemicals.

5) They’re affordable. Lodge cookware starts at around $15 for a small skillet. This Dutch oven with a lid that doubles as a skillet is a great starting piece at only $35. 

4) You will never have to replace them. They will outlast you. If you have nothing more to pass along to your spawn, at least you can give them some hefty cast iron cookware.

3) You can accumulate a collection over time. And if you’re into this sort of thing, you can even find cast iron cookware at thrift stores. That gives me the chills, but perhaps you can get away with it.

2) If you’re looking for an excuse to clean less, you don’t have to clean cast iron every time – just wipe it down with oil and a paper towel because in 4 minutes on medium heat the cookware is sterile. If that scares you, here’s Design*Sponge’s 10 Second How To: Cleaning a Cast Iron Skillet. And if you share my level of cleanliness or anxiety, you can still clean it with water and mild soap and oil it up again after each wash.

1) Instead of a gun, you can just sleep with your cast iron skillet under your bed. And you don’t have to worry if your kids find it.

Kitchen reveal: f*cking good enough

In my very pregnant state, I have come to peace with what I was able to accomplish with the kitchen. I didn’t repaint over the last color I tried out (too many fumes) and I didn’t switch out the light fixture after all (afraid to start shock therapy too early for the bun in the oven). But I did decorate, and that can be the most fun part of it.

Here’s the first before.

Before

Before

We sold the island and spent quite a few months in serious kitchen soul-searching. I scored this great table revealed here and have had no regrets. The winning table has hosted dinner parties for 8, birthday parties for 10, as well as daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the family. It’s perfect. I bought 2 upholstered benches from World Market to make a cozy corner to sit and eat, enjoy coffee, work, and read at the table while enjoying the park view.

I framed some of my favorite calendar pages from Rifle Paper Co. as inexpensive art in $15 Target frames.

The previous owners had installed an electric range under a very low microwave – only 12 inches from the burners – which means it not only wasn’t up to code but whoever was cooking had to hunch over to fit their arms between the burner and the microwave. Oh, and make sure you’re using a short-handled spoon! Plus only the back burners worked. These factors made cooking a bit of a pain.

So I dragged home a new gas range and hood from the Lowes 4th of July sale, and my husband came to my rescue and installed it. We nixed the microwave (slow-cooking incentive). But after Superhusband installed the range and hood we realized there was a 6-inch gap of unfinished wall where the backsplash didn’t go all the way up to the height of the new hood.

Before: Old stove. When we removed the microwave we saw the backsplash didn't go all the way up so we had to get creative.

Before: Old stove and exposed unfinished wall where backsplash didn’t go all the way up.

I decided to use faux tin ceiling tiles from Home Depot, cutting and assembling to match the gap space, painting them the cabinet color, and installing over that unfinished gap. A $20 solution with infinite emotional payback.

I’m pleased to report that f*cking good enough is pretty damn great.

New stove with faux tin backsplash

New stove with faux tin backsplash

After: Completed eat-in kitchen

After: Completed eat-in kitchen

Inexpensive art: Old calendar pages from Rifle Paper Co.

Inexpensive art: Old calendar pages from Rifle Paper Co.

Sweet little built-in

Sweet little built-in

Glimpse of my latest kitchen reincarnation

My kitchen had tried on 2 more dining tables in the 1 month since I posted Kitchen reincarnations and still no nirvana. But I quickly eliminated those options. Just when we thought I wouldn’t ever settle on a forever table…

[Drumroll, please]

I finally purchased the table that I love! It’s not too big and not too small. It’s 48″ round, which according to Ina Garten is the perfect size table for dinner parties. And it fits our family wonderfully.

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Ta-da! My new [old] kitchen table.

And the story goes like this: I had been scouring high-end stores and thrift stores and everything in between in search of the perfect table for my little eat-in kitchen/dining room. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but hoped for love at first sight, and then did my due diligence to look everywhere. We were all growing impatient with my indecision, and with eating dinner on a desk.

When I first saw this table, I walked away. I’m quite bad at decisions, and can’t make them under pressure. So I had to go home and think about it. For 2 weeks. Which is a huge risk when the table is at a thrift store and is reasonably-priced.

But after calling the store, negotiating the price and securing delivery, I am now the proud owner of this 100 year-old antique oak table.

My son asked me multiple times if we are going to sell this table like the rest of the tables that went before it. I guess I created a pattern.

No, I assure him, this one’s a keeper.