Month: December 2013

Breakfast of Champions

Kids can be so weird – they hate eating and sleeping (two of life’s greatest enjoyments).  Getting Max to eat is a constant challenge (Van is a human garbage disposal, so no issues there).  I’ve found that pancakes are the answer to our breakfast eating challenge. (more…)

It’s still technically a tree…Go green Tree

We grew up with the Traditional Christmas Tree like most Americans. But times have changed in the  Dattola household.  We have ditched the traditional REAL Christmas tree, bypassed the fake “real looking” tree, and advanced directly to a plywood Christmas Tree.  Like most things we do, some may like this idea and some, like my grandfather and sister think its un-American and disgraceful. This is year #2 with the tree (this year brought the addition of ornaments) and I have to say it’s really grown on us.

Heres how we made it…


  • Plywood (2 identical pieces – size determined by how big you want your tree)
  • Butcher Paper (for stencil)
  • Jigsaw
  • Skill Saw
  • Drill with good sized drill bit (1/2 inch is what I used – big enough to get the jig say blade into)
  • Sanding paper (just a little to smooth out jig saw edges)
  • Spray Paint (for our six foot tree we used 3-4 cans)


  1. Make a template out of butcher paper (Let your creative juices flow – we googled sketches of Christmas trees for inspiration).
  2. Trace the tree directly onto a piece of plywood – we used a 6ft piece of Plywood and our tree took up almost the entire sheet).
  3. Cut outline of tree first.
  4. Drill  holes large enough for jigsaw to fit into in order to cut out the interior pattern.
  5. On Plywood #1: Cut a slit from the top of one tree half way down an 1/8” larger than the thickness of the plywood (used a skill saw for this step).
  6. On Plywood #2: Cut a slit from the bottom up half way also 1/8 larger than thickness of plywood.
  7. Spray paint to your liking
  8. .DSC02200DSC02205DSC02208DSC02195 DSC02217

Needs VS Wants…

Dana aka “Dava Ramsey” or “Dream Killer” (as we affectionally & consistently refer to her) is rarely one to put a want before a need BUT something miraculous has happened in the Dattola home… Sears pulled a quick one on us and offered an amazing deal on a dishwasher that was too tempting for even Dana to pass up.

We rushed over after spotting the $341 deal in the Sunday paper (which by the way has not been beat by any of the Christmas deals going on, so we still feel pretty confident about our purchase).  Only problem was we had no where to put the thing.

Since the dishwasher was already not in the budget, our goal was to get it installed at as little cost as possible.

Fortunately we had some cabinet space available next to our sink that could be used. The fun began (demo) and we made room for our new toy. I ripped (ripping is a woodworking term for cutting a piece of wood along the grain) some left over 1”x6” redwood I had left over from a fence job, scrounged up some 2”x4” pieces of plywood and some black paint. At the end of it all we spent $380.00 ($341 + tax and the adaptor) on the Dishwasher, $26.00 on plywood, $6.00 on 2”x4”s and $ 5.78 on Paint (plus the three hours of time spent on youtube figuring out how to install a dishwasher and hook up the electrical unit under the sink).

Sometimes you just gotta go for it.  We’re pretty happy with how it came out…

DSC01645 DSC01648 DSC01649 DSC01671 DSC02272 DSC02273 DSC02274 DSC02275 DSC02276

Winter Crop

We are Californian’s so if you’re reading this and are from Michigan or Alaska or anywhere else where your ground is frozen, sorry. Since we are blessed with a pretty neutral year long climate we’re able to take advantage of winter gardening.

We have a very modest sized garden but it’s enough space to scrape together a meal or side dish (one day we’ll post how we built the garden beds). Here’s what we’ve got brewing in December;

– A couple of varieties of  Kale (by seed & starter), Red Beets (by seed), Winter Squash (by starter), Carrots (by seed), Swiss Chard (starter), Fennel (seed) and probably the coolest looking veggie you could eat; Brassica oleracea “Romanesco” Broccoli (look it up when you have a second).

Stay tuned for our garden progress!


Dining room table facelift

We’re all about keeping things OG especially when they’re vintage BUT when you have two gremlins for children destruction happens. We inherited a very cool mid century dining room table with leaves. The table had been previously painted/stained so it had lost its true Mid Century character so we didn’t feel too bad refacing it.

How we did it:

-The first step in refinishing a table or anything is to CLEAN IT. TSP (Tsp Cleaner Compound – 1 Lb. – Trisodium Phosphate) or just soap, water and a 3M pad.

-Once the table is clean dissemble the piece as much as possible.

-Now the work begins. If you’re just applying a new coat of paint you can lightly sand the surface with a high grit sand paper like 220. If there is varnish or any other finish on the piece you will either need to use a stripper (3m 10101 Safest Stripper Paint And Varnish Remover, 1 Quart) or  a whole lot of sanding starting with a low grit sanding paper (like 60 grit) and work your way to at least a 220 grit. Something to keep in mind when sanding furniture is to make sure it’s solid wood. If it’s a plywood or veneer be sure you don’t sand through the first or top layer.

-Once sanding is complete you are ready to paint, stain or Varnish. In my opinion spraying is king.  Spraying over brushing always comes out looking more professional. These days spray paint comes with primer already added in which is awesome and saves time.   If you’re going with a varnish, polyeurathaine Minwax 33050 11 5 oz Aerosol Gloss Polyurethane Finish works really well.

-If you’re using Polyurethane, apply multiple coats and make sure to sand between coats with a very light grit like 400.

IMG_9326 IMG_9329 IMG_9331 IMG_9333 IMG_9334 IMG_9336 IMG_9339 IMG_9343 IMG_9347IMG_9357 IMG_9365