Wednesday, July 18, 2012

DIY Rustic Wood Coffee Table/Farm Table

For the past two years, Brett and I have been using an Ikea lack coffee table. It was a gift to us from my lovely Aunt C when we first moved in together, and it has served us well.

Ikea coffee table
I was, however, getting a little bored of it and wanted something more natural and warmer to give our living room a cozy feel. While exploring this super cute store in Va Highlands, we came across a black iron table that had wooden planks on the top and we both fell in love with it. One of us (for the life of me I can't remember if it was me or Brett) suggested that if we threw some wood on top of our Ikea table we might be able to recreate a similar look, and a new DIY project was born.

Here's how to do it:

First, we measured our table and talked about whether or not we wanted a few thicker boards or several thinner boards. We decided to go for smaller pieces, about 4 inches wide, to give it more of a pallet look. Then, we decided to lay them long ways on the table, mostly because our rug has horizontal stripes and I didn't want them going the same direction.

Next, we headed to Lowe's to gather supplies. We found some 1x4x8 pine boards for $3.50 a piece and had them cut them in half for us, so each board was 1x4x4. We also grabbed a rasp to round off the edges where they'd been cut. Fortunately, we already had stain from another DIY project and just decided to use the same one to spare us the $10-$12 dollars it would have cost us to buy a new stain (we are cheap). Besides, I wanted it to look slightly Moroccan or Spanish-mission style, and the stain we already had on hand was Mission Oak. Perfect!

We came home from Lowe's and laid out all of our boards on the coffee table to see what it would look like. Unfortunately, we discovered that our boards weren't actually 4 inches thick as the little sign had said. They were 3.5 inches thick. We kicked ourselves for not actually measuring the boards and trusting the stickers before heading back to Lowe's and picking up another one.

We then took all of the boards out on to our patio, which was covered with a tarp and drop cloth and temporarily converted into a little woodworking studio, and sanded the boards down with some sandpaper. Brett used the rasp to round off the edges where it had been cut.

Then we got to staining! We used a wide, foam brush. If you haven't stained something before, don't be intimated! It really isn't that difficult, especially if you're going for more of a rustic, imperfect look. And it is amazing how stain transforms wood. Our stain was a 2-in-1 with a polyurethane in it. But if your stain doesn't have polyurethane in it, you'd want to let your stain dry and then apply a coat of that before putting the boards on the table.

After letting the boards dry overnight, we positioned them on the coffee table and measured carefully to make sure the ends and sides hung off the table evenly. After checking a hundred times, we carefully lifted one of the end pieces up, covered the Ikea table in wood glue and pushed the board back down. Next, we lifted up the board next to it, covered the table and the edge of the board with wood glue, and pressed it on to the table and into the already-glued board next to it. We figured this would help us keep the rest of the boards straight and even, so we removed the rest of the them to the floor and did the rest one by one. I forgot to take pictures of this step because I was busy gluing!

Once we were finished, we took big stacks of books and put them on top of the table to weight the boards down and help them hold.

After waiting 24 hours and dying of anticipation, we removed the books. Ta da! New coffee table.

I love it! It is exactly what we were looking for!

In total, I would say this project only took us 1-2 hours. The cost?

Wood: $3.50 x 5 = $17.50
Rasp:  $5.99
Total: $23.49*

The best thing about this project, besides being an insanely cheap way to get a new coffee table, is that you could do it lots of different ways for lots of different looks. You could always pick a different stain, or paint the boards for a rustic, weathered look. And you could use any kind of coffee table base, paint it any color you choose, etc. I think a white base with a dark stain or a grayish, weathered paint job on the wood would look really cute. The possibilities are really endless.

*If you didn't already have stain, sandpaper, and paintbrushes on hand, you'd have to add about $12 for the stain and a few more for the paintbrushes and sandpaper. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Weekend Links

Disney princesses from least to most feminist. Possibly my favorite thing about this whole article is its reiteration of the fact that what girls take away from Aladdin is that their power is their sexuality. I remember watching Aladdin and thinking it was the absolute coolest that Jasmine seduced Jafar to save her and Aladdin's life. Not a good message Disney!

How the Church teaches people to pray through, not leave, abusive relationships

I got an amazing new job! And for a few minutes, wallowed in self-pity that I wasn't going to be able to sit around and freelance. Then, I took a shower and told myself to stop being ridiculous a la Taylor Cotter. I'm glad that so many responses to the Huffington Post piece came out this week and helped me, to borrow a common Wellesley phrase, "Check my privilege." This one by Dianna Anderson and this one on Feministe are my favorites.

PhD in Parenting has a great piece on keeping your kids safe around water

This photo from The Sociological Cinema files painfully reminds me of the exploitation of African American women under slavery, but also of the potentially deep bond between this woman and the baby she is breastfeeding. And while wet nurses are largely a thing of the past in the US, it also reminds me of the bonds between babysitters/nannies and the children they care for. Blue Milk has a link to a great piece in the NYT by Mona Simpson about photographs, nannies, and the relationships between paid caregivers and children.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to Survive Global Warming: What to Eat When It Feels Like the Earth Is Melting (And Parts Of It Really Are)

This summer, I feel like global warming has made its big debut. It is like it finally decided it refused to be ignored by those individuals who persist in saying it doesn't exist (even though the last six months have been the hottest on record). Here in Atlanta, we've had at least a solid week of 100+ degree temperatures, including a lovely weekend where it was 106 degrees one day and then "cooled off" to a breezy 103. I know many of you have faced similar heat waves the past few weeks too.

Luckily, we have air conditioning. But even with the air conditioning, when it gets this hot, I refuse to turn on my oven. It heats up our whole house and just feels gross. So with a few more months of summer ahead of us, I thought I'd share some favorite meals that require little or no heat!

First, if you haven't already tried the quinoa, chickpea, avocado, lime-y goodness that is this salad, you should try it asap. But here are some new recipes too:

Curry Chickpea Salad
Back when I ate meat, curry chicken salad sandwiches were one of my favorite things. I was pining for them the other day, when I decided to try subbing the chicken with chickpeas. The result? Delicious! You can make these two ways, with either a hummus or a mayo/sour cream base, to make it vegan if you so choose.

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup mayo

1/2 cup sour cream (or sub 3/4-1 cup hummus for mayo and sour cream)

2 tblsp. curry powder

1 tsp. salt
ground pepper to taste

1. In a bowl, combine your chickpeas, celery, and raisins.
2. In a separate bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, curry powder, and salt and pepper.
3. Add the mayo/sour cream mix to the chickpeas and mix until chickpeas are coated. 
4. Adjust spices to taste preference.
5. Chill in fridge for 15 minutes.
6. Serve on whole wheat bread for a delicious lunch or dinner! 

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Sandwich
I probably shouldn't include this is a recipe because it is so simple and I doubt any of you need my help in order to make one. But it is such a favorite around here, especially with our new basil plant, that I couldn't resist! There is nothing like basil in the summertime.

1 tomato, sliced
Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Fresh basil
Sliced onion (optional)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
Whole Wheat Bread/Baguette/Focaccia Bread

1. Slice up all of your ingredients.
2. Layer the mozzarella, tomato, and basil (and onions, if you're using them) on your bread.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and, if you'd like, with balsamic.
4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Eat.

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella, Quinoa Salad
A delicious variation on the sandwich.

For the salad
1 1/2 cup prepared quinoa
2  tomatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 onion, diced
1 cup spinach, rinsed
handful of fresh basil, chopped
2 tblsp. pesto
1/4-1/2 lb. mozzarella, cut into small cubes (you can also buy the round balls)

For the dressing (adapted from here)
3 tblsp. balsamic vinegar
1tblsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp. lemon juice
 salt and pepper

1. Prepare your quinoa. 
2. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together and set aside.
3. Cut up your tomatoes, onion, basil, and mozzarella.
4. Throw your tomatoes, onion, basil, and mozzarella in with the quinoa. 
5. Put the pesto in with the quinoa mix and mix until combined. 
5. Pour the dressing in and mix until combined.
6. Add more salt, pepper, pesto, basil, etc. to taste.
7. Chill for 15 minutes or until ready to serve. 
8. Drizzle with extra lemon juice and balsamic for extra flavor and a pretty presentation.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of photos. I'm a terrible food blogger, my instagram isn't working (and my world is crushed), and my iphone is dead so I can't email myself any of the few photos I did take. I'll update with photos soon!

Monday, July 9, 2012

German Court Bans Male Circumcision on Infants

Source: TIME
A week or two ago, a German court banned male circumcision on infants in the city of Cologne. Many are upset, claiming that the ruling is grounded in antisemitism or anti-Muslim (probably anti-Turkish) sentiments and that the ruling violates religious freedom. While the ruling is political, I don't think it violates religious freedom and hope that the ruling encourages others - especially Americans - to think more critically about male circumcision.

In a pluralistic society, it is critical that we respect the religious beliefs of others and allow others to practice their religion as they see fit. But being able to practice one's own religion does not allow you to force your religion on others (I've written about this re: the contraception mandate), even on your children. And your right to religious freedom does not allow you to inflict bodily injury or cause physical harm to another.

In the West, circumcision is primarily performed on infants, who are unable to consent to the procedure. It is generally performed for non-medical reasons, primarily because of religious beliefs or (especially in the United States) for cosmetic purposes. The procedure is incredibly painful, permanent, affects the child for the rest of his life, can dull sexual sensation, and can lead to bleeding and infection. Recently, for example, in NYC, 11 babies contracted herpes through a (rare) circumcision ritual; 2 of them developed brain damage and 2 died.

As a feminist, I believe in bodily autonomy. I think no parent should have the right to cut off a part of their son's penis without their son's permission. If a boy is of an age where he can consent and decides to get circumcised, then that should be allowed. But infant circumcision allows for a non-medically necessary, permanent surgery to be performed on a child without his consent. Moreover, as much as banning male circumcision can be said to be politically motivated, racist, or to violate a group's religious freedom, allowing for a religious exemption belies another form of racism, cultural imperialism, and the West's own religious hierarchy. US federal law, for example, currently “makes criminal any non-medical procedure performed on the genitals [of a girl].” There is no religious exemption, and few people protest that this violates religious freedom. Few protest the banning of female circumcision in Western countries or in Africa and the Middle East and it is popularly condemned as barbaric and misogynistic. Moreover, when the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that doctors could perform a ceremonial pinprick or "nick" a girl's genitals to prevent them from receiving a full circumcision overseas, the move was met with outrage from the feminist community. So why is it ok to do more than "nick" a boy's genitals - even for religious or cultural reasons? Cologne's ban on infant circumcision doesn't violate the parent's rights; it preserves the boy's.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

[Bruce] The Last Name Project

In this new series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique, we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com. 

The following post is from Bruce, who wanted to contribute another anecdote about a husband adopting his wife's last name to The Last Name Project. 

Our naming story is complicated, but ultimately shallow. When we got engaged, my wife and I discussed what name we would take. Our choice of name mattered little as a signifier; we're both Jewish and at the time enjoyed equally Jewish-sounding names. Frankly, I hadn't given it any thought, but as a feminist my fiance naturally had and wanted reasons beyond patriarchal tradition for my name (Aronson) to take preference to hers or to some other name we might mutually agree to. Rather than pick a "winner," she recommended compromizing on a hybridized name. However, her suggestion (Aronfalk), while logical, nonetheless struck me as ungainly -- too much like Amtrak, I told her. I suggested we try "A.Falk," with a silent "A" (bear in mind that this was in the mid-90's, more or less at the dawn of the popular internet, and before such a naming convention had come into wider use).

While apparently whimsical on its face, my suggestion was sincere and entirely pragmatic. By adopting this eclectic homophone of her patronymic, we'd share a simple-sounding name that would appear conventional in written form (as most people would take the "A." for a middle initial), retain whatever advantages were to be had in nearing the top of the alphabet (front-row seating for future children in school?), and have a silly anecdote with which to break the ice at cocktail parties.

She found this approach a bit too unconventional, and so we discussed the possibility of instead using an alternative hybrid, a newly invented name, or hyphenate. To have "Falk" precede anything else seemed awkward to me, as I thought it just too likely to be misheard as a popular expletive, so "FalkAron" and its cognates were out. I was also opposed to hyphenates as unwieldy: I saw them as unnecessarily long and entangling for offspring who might then have to deal with an ever-propagating string of hyphenates upon their respective marriages. In any case (for me) "Bruce Falk" had a nice, pithy ring to it that no invented name seemed to improve upon, so I proposed we would adopt her last name as a family name subject to a few provisos to which she was happy to agree. (This is where the complications arise.)

Since I retained some sentimental attachment to my old name and did not want to risk offending my parents (who might misinterpret my rejection of standard convention as a rejection of them, irrespective of any explanation I might make), my basic proviso was that we should pass "Aronson" along to any prospective children as a middle name (thereby preserving the traditional filial commitment to perpetuate my father's identity). I felt this could be viewed as consistent with cultural practice where one might regard the middle name of "Aronson" as a conventional patronymic (at least in Tolstoy's Russia), and of course practically speaking the decision would immediately resolve the question of what if any middle name to give future kids. I am a proponent of middle names, especially unfashionable ones; they serve to further distinguish otherwise eponymous individuals who share common first and last names. I saw no need for us to have more than three names (most demographic forms have no field for unhyphenated extras), so adopting a new middle name would mean jettisoning our old middle names... but then, we weren't using them anyway and a legal name change came gratis with our marriage license.

Actually, I'd always liked my middle name and hated to see it go to waste. Had I kept it, it would never have been used in my lifetime as Jewish superstition renders it taboo to name children after living people. My fiance's middle name meant nothing to her, so we handled the matter like a professional sports league. We weren't going to have more than two children (we thought), so our first-born son or second-born daughter would get the middle name I was giving up. As it turned out, our first child was a girl, but we each liked the sound of my old middle name so much, we gave it to her anyway.  I'll spare you the research and lengthy discussion that went into naming our second child (a boy), but suffice it to say that we've never had cause to regret any of our naming decisions.

While I recognize that it's easy to get caught up in conventions and identity baggage, I strongly doubt that posterity really cares. My prime mover has been a love of language. I'd love to see someone go by "Skender Luljaraj, Space Pirate," if only to guarantee the attention of any restaurant maitre-d. Otherwise, what's in a name?