Jun 9, 2016

Nashville Road Trip

A week or two ago I took a break from renovations (I still need to show you what I've been doing to the master bedroom) and headed off to Nashville, Tennessee with my two aunts and my sister for a girls' long weekend. We hit the road Thursday morning at 6am and were back on Tuesday, late.

Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge (Shelby Avenue) Nashville

It's about a 15 hour drive, if you include bathroom/lunch stops. I was appointed the navigator and only got us lost a few times. Apparently I have trouble with left vs. right under pressure. Detours due to construction are also not my friend.

With only 4 days of shopping/sightseeing we weren't able to see everything we wanted to, but we tried to hit the main points. Definitely the highlight for me was going to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. It was a really great lineup -  Maren Morris, Ray Scott, Exile, Mountain Heart, and Carrie Underwood among others. I loved every minute of it. We were way up in the nosebleed section, but the sound was still fantastic.

Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry

It poured rain on our first day in town so we spent a good deal of time at an antique mall that my sister was dying to see. I didn't really see anything I wanted (that would fit in the car), but I had a great time taking pictures of every weird and wonderful item that caught my eye.

Looking back, I think I should have bought this. It would have looked good in our basement tv room (that hasn't been built yet). There was also a game board for "Finance", a precursor to Monopoly.

Monopoly Blueprint - Gaslamp Antiques

This papier-mâché baby is just the stuff of nightmares. I think it was $50. And it said "handmade". Thank goodness there's only one of them in the world!


I wanted this pendant light very much. But I think it's too rustic for our house. I bet I could make one though if I change my mind.


Everyone needs a shirt (dress?) made of bottle caps, right? And it was a steal at only $13.

bottle cap dress

This vendor had all kinds of assemble-it-yourself birdhouses. They come on one flat sheet that you punch out like paper dolls and put together. Too bad he didn't have any more of this one.

motorhome birdhouse

So, yeah. Not much to say about this. Maybe it would be less scary without the eyeballs? Nope, still scary.



Before heading off to shop one day I made everyone stop at the Dukes of Hazzard museum (Cooter's Place) first. The best man at our wedding made a joke that my husband (a mechanic) used to look like Cooter until I got my hands on him...and then he looked like Chandler Bing. So true.

cooter's place dukes of hazzard museum

They had the General Lee there, hooked up to Cooter's tow truck, so of course I had to get my picture taken in it. If you can't be a dork on vacation, when can you be?

cooter's place dukes of hazzard museum

When we drove up to the place there was a lineup halfway around the building. We thought that it was the line to get in and almost left right away, but it turned out that Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) was there signing autographs. Crazy. It would have been cool to get an autograph for my husband - and to gloat about meeting Tom Wopat - but no way was I standing in that line. And I think my family would have left me there if I'd suggested it.

cooter's place dukes of hazzard museum


On Sunday my sister and I headed downtown to do all that touristy stuff on Lower Broad. This is where all the honky-tonks and souvenir shops are. I think my sister is addicted to $10 or less shops because she dragged me into every one - especially for photo ops. Don't we look awesome?



We hit both candy shops in the area as I had to find my beloved Cow Tales - the best caramel candy ever made, and sadly not available in Canada. My favourite was Savannah's Candy Kitchen - heaven for sugar lovers. And they make so much of their product right there. You can watch them make gophers and chocolate dipped apples when you first walk in - they even make their ice cream on site.

Savannah's Candy Kitchen Nashville

I may have bought some huge gophers, and a pecan log roll, and ice cream cone gummies...it's probably a good thing that the store is 800 miles away.

Savannah's Candy Kitchen Nashville

We wandered all over the place, up side streets, and over the pedestrian bridge. We even hung out the window of Rippy's Bar & Grill to get shots of the entire street. I couldn't stop taking pictures of the buildings - they're my thing.

Lower Broadway Nashville
Printers Alley Nashville
Printers Alley Nashville
American Steam Feed Nashville
Printers Alley Nashville
The Quarters 2nd Ave Nashville
Seigenthaler (Shelby Avenue) Bridge


And of course we went to see the Ryman. No music though, just a comedy-fest going on.

Ryman Auditorium Nashville
Ryman Auditorium Nashville

On our last day we went to Belle Meade Plantation. What a gorgeous place. In its heyday, the plantation was 5400 acres - now there are only 30 acres remaining. It was renowned for horse breeding, with today's Kentucky Derby winners still able to trace their bloodlines to Belle Meade horses.

Belle Meade Mansion Nashville

How can I condense 100+ years of history into just a few lines? I don't think I can do it justice so I'll just leave you with this link. We toured the mansion and had the most wonderful tour guide, Kate. She relayed the history of the plantation from start to finish as we worked our way through the rooms, keeping it interesting with little anecdotes here and there. You could tell that she was very passionate about the subject.

Belle Meade Plantation Nashville

I appreciated that the guides don't gloss over some of the uglier portions of the plantation's history - for example, that the owners were slave traders/slave owners and at one time owned 136 slaves. The plantation is a constant work in progress as items are discovered and donated and as more history is revealed. Right now the historical society is working hard to restore/recreate the slave areas of the plantation, but it is slow-going as so little of the history was written down.

Belle Meade Plantation Nashville
Belle Meade Plantation Nashville
Belle Meade Plantation Nashville
Belle Meade Plantation Nashville


The plantation grounds are breathtaking, with clearings here and there (full of magnolia trees!) so you can take a break and just relax away from the more hectic city center. They were preparing one of the carriage houses for a wedding reception while we were there - I can just imagine how magical having your wedding there would be.

Magnolia
Belle Meade Plantation Nashville
Belle Meade Plantation Nashville
Belle Meade Plantation Nashville
Belle Meade Plantation Nashville


It was a really short trip, but it was enough to convince me I want to come back. There are so many more things to see and do. One thing I didn't get to experience much of was the food. Nashville is also known for its food scene. I need to try out the Hot Chicken, fancy pancakes, and even though I ate a lot of biscuits, I think I might have room for more. I'll leave you with a couple of the best meals I did have.

Avocado Quinoa Salad at Harding House - Belle Meade Plantation 
Harding House Belle Meade Plantation

Bistro Steak with French Potato Salad at Marche Artisan Foods
Marche Artisan Foods Nashville

May 27, 2016

DIY: Children's Craft Table with Paper Roll


Our favourite little girl turned 3 this year, so naturally - being the DIYers we are - we had to build something for her birthday. We had already built this bookcase/toybox for her first birthday...but then ran out of time last year and had to go the Dora/store-bought route for her second.

Now it's back to the workshop this year to build a pint-sized craft table with attached paper roll.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

I first saw a children's craft table for sale online months ago and told Tom, "We should build that!" Of course he agreed - happy wife, happy life. Once we got around to planning it though it took us a week of brainstorming and many, MANY changes before we came up with a design we liked. We even took a trip to Ikea in an ice storm to look at their tables and to pick up rolls of paper - it's the only place we could find 18" rolls that weren't 1000 feet long.

We kept our table as simple as possible - clean lines, light-coloured wood, clear lacquer.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Here is a materials list if you're looking to build one of your own:

Top: 20"x 36"x 3/4" shelving

Apron:
3 - 17½"x 1½"x 3/4"
2 - 35¼"x 1½"x 3/4"

Legs: 4 - 19½"x 1½"x 1½"

Tray:
2 - 201/3"x 1½"
2 - 5½"x 1½"x 3/8"
1 - 45/8"x 1½"x 3/8"
1 - 201/3"x 5½"x 3/8" plywood
1 - 18¾"x 21/3"x 3/8" spacer board

Tray/Paper Roll Supports: 2 - 12½"x 21/3"x 3/8"

Miscellaneous:
1 - 21" dowel
5 - ¾" magnets
2 - 1½" wooden knobs
2 - eyelet screws
3 - small metal buckets for drawing supplies (dollar store)
wood screws
finishing nails
wood glue
wood putty
sandpaper
polyurethane
brushes, etc.
paper roll
stool or chair


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Directions:

Since we used a full 20"x 36" shelving board for the table top, there was nothing extra to do to it besides sand it smooth - especially the edges and corners. We didn't want any unnecessary injuries happening (to us or the birthday girl).

We weren't able to find 2x2 select pine boards for the legs the day we went material shopping, so we bought a 2x4 and planed it down to size. In retrospect it might have been easier to buy 2x2 knotty pine since the grade ends up being about the same, but at least by planing the wood we knew our table legs were completely straight.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

To beef up the table profile a bit and to give the legs stability, we added a 1"x 2" apron all around the outside. The apron is inset about 3/8 of an inch from the edge of the table. We joined the pieces with simple butt joints rather than mitering them, using wood glue and countersunk screws. I like the simpler look and the joint is stronger - but if the mitered joint strikes your fancy then go for it! The apron frame was then attached to the tabletop with more countersunk screws, down through the top of the table.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table


The legs were attached to the apron in each corner with two (countersunk) screws. Since the paper roll hangs below the table, the legs at that end had to be inset from the edge by about four inches. To secure these legs we added another apron piece across the underside of the tabletop, parallel to the end piece. The legs were then attached to this inner board.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table


There was a lot of discussion around how we were going to attach the tray and the paper roll to the table. We decided to cut a notch into each side of the table that the uprights would fit into so that we could secure it to the apron and the side of the tabletop. There are several things to consider here - How low do you want the paper roll to hang? How far do you want the roll indented from the end of the table? How high do you want the tray to be above the table? How wide do you want the supports to be?

Once you know how far in you want the roll to be and how wide the supports are, you can cut the notches into the table the same width as your support pieces. Our support pieces are 3/8" thick so that they fit snug against the apron and stay flush with the outside edge of the table.

Fun fact: the supports (and tray sides) are made from leftover boards from our board and batten project at the old house. Nothing goes to waste here!

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Before cutting the supports to length we put them in place and merely slid them up and down until we arrived at a distance above and below the table that was pleasing to the eye. We drew a faint line on each support where it met the top of the table and measured/marked each for the top and bottom cuts.

Before attaching the supports to the table you'll want to drill a hole in each for the paper roll dowel to sit in. This hole should be at least twice as big as the dowel so that it is easy to take in and out when replacing the paper.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

The supports can then be attached to the table. We used a couple of finishing nails just to hold them and then countersunk screws to secure them well.

The tray is made of thin lengths of wood planed down to size, with a piece of plywood for the bottom. A groove was cut along tray edge, 3/8" from the bottom. This groove is the same thickness as the tray bottom.

Once assembled, the tray bottom slides into the groove and stays locked in place. We built the tray this way so that there was a lip underneath the tray bottom to attach the upright supports to. Otherwise the uprights would have to be on the outside of the tray (not as pretty), or attached directly to the bottom (not as stable).


The sides of the tray are joined at a 45 degree angle (miter joint) so it didn't matter that the groove went all the way across, but if you are using butt joints you'll want the groove to stop just before the end so it doesn't show on the outside. You'll likely want to practice on some scraps first as that can be tricky.

Taking three of the tray sides, we made sure the groove was lined up all the way around, then glued and nailed them together with finishing nails. The tray bottom then slides into place and the fourth side is attached. We designed it so that the tray would hold three metal pails for markers, paintbrushes, etc. and have a separate section for loose crayons, erasers, and whatnot. To make the separate section we added a divider across the width of the tray, again securing it with glue and finishing nails.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

One other piece of wood you'll need I have no idea what to call. It is a spacer piece that runs under the tray to give it stability on the bottom and to keep the upright supports in place. This piece of wood will be the same thickness as the lip under the tray bottom (so that it sits flush when in place) and is the length of the visible tray bottom minus the thickness of the upright supports. The supports will end up being sandwiched between the edge of the tray and this new spacer piece, keeping them from wobbling around.

Here is a shot of the spacer board in place (the table is upside down):

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Attaching the tray to the supports required the two of us working together (!!!) One person pressed in slightly on the supports while the other fit the tray on top. Then after applying wood glue to the horizontal spacer it was pressed up into place under the tray. Using the glue gives you time to make adjustments and align everything perfectly before it sets. Once all of the pieces were in place we clamped the tray in several spots to keep the spacer board tight against the bottom. Finishing nails secured the supports to the tray.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

We spent some time brainstorming a way to keep the paper flat when it was across the table. A flip-down arm would be cool, but we were afraid it would eventually get broken. And a stationary arm would mean that the paper had to be fed through each time - not so easy for little hands. We came up with the idea of magnets inset into the table and knobs with metal washers attached that the paper could then be pressed between.

Insetting the magnets is very easy. You'll need a drill bit that is the same diameter as your magnet - ours are 3/4". Mark the spot where you want each magnet to be and drill into the table slightly more than the depth of your magnet. You'll want the well slightly deeper so that there is space for the glue to expand without lifting your magnet above the table surface. Apply glue to the well and drop your magnet in, making sure it's flush. As extra insurance you could clamp the magnet into place so that it can't move while drying.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table


The final step was to apply polyurethane to the entire table. Or you could leave yours plain, paint it, stain it...whatever strikes your fancy. I did several coats of semi-gloss transparent polyurethane (Minwax), sanding lightly between coats. Before the final coat I gave the table top a good scrub with super fine steel wool to make it really smooth.

The knobs are simple drawer pulls with washers glued to the bottoms of them. We attached two eyelet screws to the inside of the table apron, lining them up with the magnets, and then tied the knobs to the screws with lengths of bright orange ribbon. Now the knobs can be removed, but since they are still attached to the table they're less likely to be misplaced.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

We also glued three magnets onto the tray to help keep the metal buckets in place. The buckets can still be removed, but the magnets stop them from being knocked over easily.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

We bought a cute little wooden stool at Ikea to go with the table. It has metal mounting brackets where the legs join the seat - so sturdy! - there is no way we could have built one for the same price.

Pint-Sized Craft Table


The dowel for the paper roll is also from Ikea. We had originally purchased the whole paper holder with the intention of incorporating it into the table, but found that you can't mount it upside down without the paper falling out. We did like the dowel it came with though as it has small grooves at each end to keep it in place on the holder. So yeah, we ended up with a $10 dowel.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

The finishing touches were some new crayons and markers - and a special message to the birthday girl. I'm pretty sure she likes it - though when we gave it to her she was more interested in playing the shell game with the buckets and a spare knob than drawing on the paper. No problem, it's all about using your imagination. :-)

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table



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Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table






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