Friday, November 19, 2010

Tidying Up for the Holidays

Back in the day, before oak furniture was frowned upon, it was highly valued.  I'm talking way back in the mid '70s when the Antique Awakening took place.  Furniture formerly relegated to Grandma's attic, received their Glory Days.  Antique Stores were swamped with Newby Collectors eager to have the raging trend.

And I was one of them.  I lovingly caressed the legs of an old buffet discarded by Hubby's dad.  We had a huge table with carved legs and matching buffet that Hubby's father had found in a garage sale coup and took it to a furniture restorer while we awaited it to be dipped and stripped for our refinishing.  We waited a- l-o-n-g time since other Newby Collectors were dragging their estate sale finds there as well.  It got to the point that we would 'visit' our table and buffet, just to make sure it was still there.  While we waited, we collected bits and pieces of solid oak furniture, stripping some and (gulp) painting those things that were too far gone, finish wise.

In the mean time, by Grandfather passed away.
He had lived by himself for nearly 20 years after my Grandmother died.
A jolly, loving, practical joking kind a grampa, his housekeeping skills were a bit....um, lackadaisical.
He only had one eye and the remaining eye was a bit bad as well.  Needless to say, we would be hard pressed to guess if anything was moved from the time my immaculate grandmother died to his own demise.
Grandma and Grandpa had acquired some lovely pieces of furniture throughout their marriage but what was swell in the early twenties, was sadly dated in the early 70's, before the resurgence.
It was at his wake that I came upon this conversation between my uncle and my aunt, sitting in front of me.
"What in the hell are we going to do with all that damn furniture in dad's house? Who in their right mind would want that stuff?" (Their words, not mine.  Sorry)
I nearly bounded out of my chair to interrupt them.
Hubby and I had purchased a home the year before and we had the perfect dining room for this now, Very Desirable furniture.  Being on the Cutting Edge of Trends, I knew what the table (with six leaves) six chairs, large buffet with matching china cabinet with the original glass, was worth.  I knew it was more than I could afford.  But it was Grandpa's and my dad had played ping pong on it and hid his Easter Candy under it and all of our extended family suppers were shared on it.
I had to have it.
Estates being what they are, legally, the dining room set had to be sold, the price shared equally among my father, my uncle and aunt.
While Hubby scurried around to come up with the asking price, my benevolent relatives agreed to give us their share of the sale so that the three pieces could stay in the family.

So this amazingly strong, sturdy table has seated copious amounts of guests for over 35 years.  While no ping pong has been played like in the days of my drunken Irish uncles, there has been a fair share of painting projects, nails hammered into it, myriad hours of home school and countless patterns cut out upon it, including Eldest/Admin's wedding dress.

This summer, before the mama's collection First Annual Collection of Friends Retreat, I started scrutinizing things.  One of the glaring items on my To Do list for the retreat was to clean the dining table realllll good.  That little chore did not happen due to the humidity and oppressive heat.  You don't want  your table oily when company is bringing fabric to lie upon it.  The Ordeal of cleaning the table would wait till Holiday Cleaning .(She says as if she does this every year....)  With Hubby home this past month, we started working on the mile long Honey Do lists for Home Upkeep.  The cleaning of the table was right up there near the top.
During a long road trip this summer, I sat in the co pilot seat devouring all my magazines that had been sorely neglected.  It was then that I found this very successful recipe for wood cleaning. As you can see, it works just dandy.  And so that your dining table shall shine forth this Thanksgiving, I'm going to share it with you:

Wood Cleaner:
1/4 boiled linseed oil
1/2 cup turpentine
Mix in a closed jar.
Clean surface with warm water (very little) and wipe with a dry cloth.
Spread the mixture by dabbing with a #0000 steel wool pad.
Work with the grain.
Wipe off with a dry soft cotton rag.
Wait a few days (this is tricky) before adding a soft paste wax, carnuba, or bees wax to the table top.

Do not use this on questionable finishes or veneers or shellac.  When in doubt, try it on an unseen spot.
I have also seen 'recipes' with white vinegar included in the mix for extra cleaning power.
You decide.

Hosting Hint:  Always set your Thanksgiving Table the night before.  That gives you time to decorate without pressure while the pies are baking.  It also helps delegate out the chores from the busyness of the T-Day!!

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