The Scarlett method

I found myself assembling a shelf of ‘old friends’ when I recently unpacked our book collection onto our new shelves**.

On my shelf of old friends, I found myself placing the books that I can’t put down when I read them, and I can read them over and over again.  I don’t only read these books, but  they are there if I need motivating, relaxing or just entertainment.  One of these books is, I am almost afraid to admit, Gone with the Wind.  Yes, yes, it’s intriguing and exciting and tragic and a top ten love story of all time, but really…I’m married so who needs Rhett Butler ;)?  This book is about “people who have gumption and people who do not,” in the words of Margaret Mitchell herself.  Scarlett O’Hara may not be kind or selfless, but she definitely has gumption (and good looks).  Before we go too far, I acknowledge that we may not approve of her methods or even her goals as the book goes on – but this post is about attaining goals, not making them, so the reader is fully responsible for any sketchy goal setting!

Throughout the book it is clear that Scarlett is undeniably going to finish what she plans to do.  She is able to effectively set goals and follow through.  Despite this, when she is about to undertake another act of self-preservation, she feels guilt that lingers from her antebellum Southern upbringing.  When she realizes she has no alternative that still allows for survival in her war-torn world, she exclaims, “Oh, I’ll think of that later!” to put her guilt aside until she has attained her goal. 

Now, bear with me, the next book I have chosen to read is Espresso Lessons by Arno Ilgner (that was on the ‘outdoor adventure’ shelf).  Arno Ilgner is the founder of the Warrior’s Way, a method to improve the psychology of rock climbers to enable them (us?) to evaluate and tackle challenges effectively.  The reason I have this particular book is because I took a Warrior’s Way clinic last year.  While the class occurred at our local Planet Granite and focused on rocks, the underlying principle is equally and heavily applicable outside of the rock gym: the most effective actions, thoughts or plans are those on which we have consciously and actively focused our full attention.  Attention is the key word.  If you are climbing, climb.  If you are resting, only rest.  This is the time to plan.  Once you start moving again, just keep moving how your body flows without letting your thought distract you.  In other words, if you have fear of falling, think of it later and focus on falling itself now.

I can’t seem to get over how striking it is that these books, a century apart and worlds different in context, lead to the same place.  In Scarlett’s case, her goals are survival-based and distraction is her guilt.  In the Warrior’s Way, the goals are self-improvement/achievement and the distraction is fear.  In my case, I’m still not sure on the goal and perhaps the distraction is the internet…  To attain the goal, invest fully in moving toward it or invest completely in devising the plan.  If the movement doesn’t match the plan completely, it’s ok – just get to a stopping point to reassess honestly.  And perhaps, when we’re not sure where to put our inevitable fear or guilt or anger or other distraction and we aren’t able to put it in the past, the indefinite future is just as good. 

**A note on the bookshelves: since one of our old Ikea shelves literally collapsed under the weight of our library,

2013-11-11 21.03.53

we decided to upgrade by buying 3 of the Klassik bookshelf from Scandinavian Designs.  I guess they are actually discontinuing this bookshelf, which is a bummer since it’s not terribly expensive and it’s much more structurally sound than the Ikea bookshelf since the shelves are supported by a bar rather than little tabs.  I guess these Scandinavians like to read more than the Scandinavians who work at Ikea…


End table 101 pre-req, part IV (The end of the end table!)

When we left off, the silver “antiquing” on the end table was left to dry.  When I returned 4 days later, it was much better than my previous attempt in that there were no stripes.  I did note that the end table was a bit glossy from the semi-gloss Behr paint that I had used.  To see what I could do about this, I lightly went over the table with a 220 grit sanding block.I did recall my 8th lesson, which is why I had to wait for 4 days before doing this.  This did dull out the finish slightly making things more tolerable but impossible to photograph a different.

This is latex semi-gloss paint and I’m not planning on giving the table a serious workout, so it probably would’ve been find to just bring into the house at this point.  But, this was a practice table and we do have a crazy dog so I decided to put some finish on.  I found that this post by Centsational girl had a lot of good tips along the way, so I decided to take her advice and use a wax finish.

Since I’m lazy and was just going to Home Depot, I didn’t buy any fancy waxes, but I went with $10 Minwax.  While I question my ability to buy paint, I will say that I like this product.  I haven’t used a varnish or polyurethane, but this dried quickly, was super easy and wasn’t messy or terribly smelly.  Most surprisingly, it actually seemed to reduce the shininess!  The natural color didn’t affect the orange at all.

Minwax® Paste Finishing Wax

To apply, I cut an old t-shirt in half along the sides, leaving two full sides as cloths.  The t-shirt happened to be magenta, in case you were wondering if I used a nice white cloth – I did not.  I rubbed one into the Minwax to pick up a small blob and then rubbed the blob on the legs of the table.  I waxed a leg, then wiped it down with a clean part of the same cloth and moved onto the next leg.  I then waxed the surface by rubbing in circles.  I had to rewax my cloth after every leg and a couple times working on the surface.  I made sure to wipe off extra each time leaving no stickiness behind.  Afterward, I walked away from the project for an hour.  Upon return, I used the other half of the t-shirt to buff the wax.  I repeated this whole process a second time.  After the second buffing, I moved the table into the house:

2014-01-18 20.22.05


This table will no doubt look better with a purple rug when we add it.  Here’s another image, with photobomb:

2014-01-18 20.22.57

This photo is more representative of the color.  I give myself a 6 for execution and about a 4 for design on this project. The low rating in execution is for poor choice of paint and the fact that you can still see some of the brush strokes (both with and against the grain – shudder) in the silver.  The heavy duty, thick latex paint kind of makes the whole table look like it is made of plastic since it’s nearly impossible to see the wood texture underneath unless you look carefully.  I might raise the 4 if it looks better with it’s future decor.

But, things are going to get worse before they get better – stay tuned.

End table 101 pre-req, part III

As expected, the top of the table was very very orange. I added just the tiniest bit of water to the Thundercloud paint and painted it all over the top, then wiped it off with an old t-shirt.  Then I repeated.  And rubbed with the t -shirt.  Here it is painted:


Ninth lesson: yes, it is better to brush on the over layer along the grain, not against.  THis still holds true if you are wiping it off.  I also wiped along the grain for best result.

This time the paint didn’t re-wet (the whole process took maybe 10 minutes) and the shading was more uniform.  I’m not sure how this compares to my original vision for this end table, but it’s more interesting than when the end table was just plain orange.




It’s still rather shiny for my taste because of the semigloss finish.  While MAYBE semigloss will make an appearance in our bathroom, I’m really not a fan of this finish in any context.  After it dries, I will try to lightly sand before coating it.

End table 101 pre-req. Part II

Tonight I decided to tackle the mess I left on the end table last night.  Upon further inspection, I like the edges of the table and the legs.  They are orange, made slightly more subtle by a thin layer of platinum.  The top, however, was left in bad shape from last night’s excursions.  Here’s the line I left by repainting water-soluble paint with paint containing water (see last post):


I tried sanding out the line.  I will say that sanding did make the surface prettier, in my opinion.  Orange is quite a statement, so the semi-gloss was really making it LOUD.  Sanding it didn’t do anything for the line, but it did dull out the paint a bit and bring out the metallic nature of the platinum ‘glaze’.  It also dinged up the orange paint and left some white behind.  Oops.

After this experiment, I felt that I was left with no choice but to repaint the top.  I taped off the edges to leave only the flat part exposed and painted it again.  Immediately after each coat, I pulled off the tape to avoid any dangling latex edges.  After two coats two hours apart tonight, the silver is mostly hidden with maybe the occasional shadow.  Here it is with the paint still wet:


You can also see the silver on the edges and the darker shade to the legs.  This definitely looks worse in photos.  I plan on trying the glaze again tomorrow.