Sometimes in life we learn things the hard way.
The night I completed this table, I woke up convinced I had been bitten by a brown recluse spider because my arm was tingling from shoulder to wrist. Never mind I had sanded it down seven times by hand. There was no spider bite, only lingering pain from being schooled by a kitchen table redo.
Freshly nested in our new house and hot with DIY fever, one day I woke up and wanted to see what the table looked like without the glossy finish. Curious, I sanded off a small square. Then I figured I might as well attack the whole top. This mentality is how a pan of brownies can be polished off in a day.
Before long, I sanded the surface twice and had brushed on the first coat of Minwax PolyShades stain and polyurethane in Bombay Mahogany. I don’t have a before photo but the table was originally a light golden oak color. Ready for a change I visioned it being two-toned with a dark top and white base.
Waiting for the stain to dry, I ran to the PAINT Shoppe in Fondren for Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint. Nearly $130 later I was outfitted with chalk paint in Pure White, Clear Soft Wax, Dark Soft Wax, a cheap paint brush and a round wax brush. You might be wondering if these products are worth the cost. I had researched cost/benefit analysis from DIY blogs, Annie Sloan’s website, looked into milk paint and considered making my own chalk paint. In my opinion and with limited experience, Annie’s chalk paint is totally awesome. More on that later.
Part of the beauty of Annie’s chalk paint is no sanding or priming is required. This is how I painted the base:
If the base was a piece of cake, the table top was an overcooked steak – tough and infuriating.
Nervous about my DIY inexperience I meticulously followed the directions on the stain can. So per the instructions and after the requisite six plus hours of drying time, I started on the second coat. Everything goes down hill from there.
Almost immediately I regretted putting on a second coat of stain because it make everything gummy and uneven. Then I freaked out. The table is divided into three sections and I only completed half a second coat on one section, too afraid to keep going. Then this is what happened:
I freaked out some more. My husband ran out for linseed oil and a can of regular stain. I oiled the other two sections which did not help. Then I sanded those sections. Then I oiled the section with two coats of stain. Then I sanded it. Then I covered the entire surface in regular stain and wiped it off. It was looking better by then, but two sections were different colors. I tried staining those sections again. Then I tried sanding the section that got half a second coat of stain. Then I stained part of it again. (OMG!!!) Then it wasn’t dark enough, so I stained the whole thing, again. (Now you know why my arm hurt.) After all that I buffed in a thin layer of Annie’s Dark Soft Wax in hopes of evening out the color. I’m sure that was some huge faux pas so forget that you just read those words.
This project taught me very important DIY lessons such as:
By some miracle, the table turned out to be lovely and feeling returned to my right side a few days later. Lesson learned.
What I’ve been up to…
Celebrating babies, marriages, engagements – the explosion of spring brought on lot of life events for family and friends.
Missing my mom. She ventured down South for a visit and we had a great time. I also ate out for at least eight meals in seven days, yikes.
Running. See above item.
Hawking t-shirts for Batson Children’s Hospital in the Hal and Mal St. Patrick’s Day parade. Running around with a little red wagon full of $5 t-shirt couldn’t have been more fun, and in a couple short hours we raised $9k.
Soaking up the beautiful weather and enjoying the city. Last night we went to the street party Arts, Eats and Beats in Fondren. We danced in the street and checked out some friend’s new record store Morningbell Records.
Naming countless blessings. Colorful flowers. Fresh water. A warm church body. Possibilities. And one powder blue El Camino.
Dish tease posts are short clips about new restaurants or specific dishes from places I’ve already written about. You can view all Dish Tease posts by selecting the category on the Post Subjects drop down menu.
During the previous week I had eaten at Soulshine, Georgia Blue, Babalu, Walker’s and attended wine school at Table 100. I ate a lot of good food and had a couple new experiences. It was a full five days.
Needless to say I have a lot of draft posts regarding these meals. Until I find the time to fully develop the stories, here are three gratuitous photos of two dishes from Babalu’s menu.
On this night I resisted snapping more shots of the infamous guacamole, but couldn’t help myself when it came to the Street Corn or Chicken Enchilada Special.
The Street Corn is a delicious starter with a spicy kick, slathered with mayo and rolled in cotija cheese. It’s available on a stick or cut off the cob, for those who might worry about neatness. Since I’m not one to shy away from the possibility of getting messy (it’s inevitable), I opted for the stick.
The Chicken Enchilada Special was bathed in a green chili and tomatillo sauce which gave it a distinct tang. The fresh salsa topping included pineapple which made the flavors a little too sharp because I couldn’t eat it all. I would order the pork enchilada special over the chicken.
Read my previous story about Babalu.
Babalu Tacos & Tapas
622 Duling Avenue
Jackson, MS 39216
This list consists solely of places I’ve eaten at, but there are numerous places I still want to try. Due to where I work, many of these restaurants are located downtown or in Fondren. Click the restaurant name for the website. Click the read more link to read my restaurant story.
1. Sal and Mookies | $5.50 lunch special
For some reason, I think the pizza tastes better at lunch but maybe it’s the dirt cheap price. The lunch special consists of a slice of pizza and your choice of a side salad, soup or french fries. The daily slice offerings include a white sauce slice, red sauce slice and vegetarian. An additional slice will only set you back $2.50. Read more…
2. Walker’s Drive-In | $8 blue plate (price on site is outdated)
If you are a fan of Walker’s but don’t have a mint to spend, eat there at lunchtime instead of dinner. The same blue plate specials are repeated weekly and you get an entree, two vegetables, cornbread and salad. At the same price you can get the vegetable plate (four veggies), cornbread and salad. Read more…
3. Brent’s Drugs | $3.50 burger and chips
A single hamburger is a mere $3.50, which leaves plenty of room to splurge on a small cherry limeade ($2) or chocolate milk shake ($3). All of the burgers and sandwiches come with chips or you can upgrade to french fries for $2 more. Read more…
4. Ding How Asian Bistro | $5.50 – $7.25 lunch special
Besides being one of my favorite restaurants, Ding How has a great lunch deal where you can get an entree, soup or salad, and steamed or fried rice. Read more…
5. Mr. Chen’s | $6.50 – $7.50 lunch special
If you can’t get up to Ding How, Mr. Chen’s has an equally good lunch deal including an entree, egg roll and streamed or fried rice. It’s the ideal opportunity to try their dishes on the cheap. Read more…
6. Steve’s Downtown Deli | $6.50 plate lunch
Head downtown to Steve’s for lunch because it’s the only time it’s open! He offers the same plate lunch specials on a weekly basis, in addition to sandwiches, quiche and soup (go for the Senegalese Peanut Chicken). Read more…
7. Soulshine Pizza Factory | $5.95 – $9.99 lunch special
If you are budget conscious get the one-topping, eight inch pizza and drink, but if you are looking to splurge add on a side salad or cup of the addictive crawfish soup.
8. Farmer’s Market Grill | $5 – $7.25 plate lunch
Unknown to many, the farmer’s market has a small restaurant inside offering up terrific daily lunch specials where you get your choice of entree, three vegetables, bread and a drink. The vegetable place includes three vegetables, bread and iced tea for $6.75, or a hamburger, french fries and drink costs around $5. Read more…
9. Peaches | $6-$8 plate lunch
This isn’t your ordinary plate lunch. Serving up soul food, Peaches is a downtown institution revered by many. So do likewise and grab lunch which includes a meat, two sides and dessert.
10. Rooster’s | $7.50 – $10.50
Occasionally only a good burger or chicken sandwich will do and this is the place to go. The hamburgers and chicken sandwiches range from $5.50-$7.75 and a side of curly fries or onion rings will cost you $2-$2.75. They also offer other hot plates, hamburger steaks and salads. Read more…
Great Buffets to Fill Up At
Mama Hamil’s serves up Southern cookin’ for $8.95 per person
Petra Cafe offers Mediterranean and Greek fare for $9.99 per person , $12.99 on the weekend
Spice Avenue has fine Indian cuisine for $9.99 per person
Being out of touch is a great motivator to be spurred into action.
In the past few weeks I’ve managed to get a car inspection sticker (apparently it’s a Mississippi requirement), upgrade to a smart phone (hellooo 2011) and drink my first Baba-rita.
Now I can avoid a hefty ticket violation, play Words with Friends, and not be quite so un-hip in casual conversation because Babalu pops up as often as the paparazzi shadows Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Babalu opened late last year and is one of the newest additions to the ever expanding Fondren area. I don’t know why it took me so long to get there. Paying a lot of money for a little meal had me balking at the idea of tapas, but mostly the opportunity hadn’t presented itself.
Thankfully, the perfect occasion finally arrived when my co-workers and I recently celebrated a friend’s retirement. Our large group slowly filtered into the restaurant on a Friday evening after work.
Entering the door you are greeted by “I Love Lucy” episodes projected on a large wall, separating the main dining room on the left, from the bar on the right. It has a clean, industrial feel and due to the cavernous space sound echos easily. We settled in next to the Babalu branded wall, ordered our first round of drinks and the infamous guacamole.
People gush over the guacamole like a newborn baby. They coo about it. They can’t get enough. It’s made table-side (!), a concept I find amusing considering I cook fewer than five feet from our kitchen table most every night.
Nevertheless, the show is part of the fun and we observed as a server brought out a tray of various sized silver bowls and got to work. Their version includes sun-dried tomatoes which is the only slight variant from a traditional recipe. It’s good guacamole but the accompanying fresh, thick chips make it fantastic.
In addition to the guacamole, I had received many dish recommendations on and off-line prior to our visit. Ben and I narrowed our selections to Carne le Vaca Tacos, a Pork Enchilada of the day, and the Braised Beef Short Rib tapa. Friends were also kind enough to let us taste their Tamales and Garlic Shrimp tapa.
His favorite dish was the Carne le Vaca Tacos (2) which features tender flat iron steak and a spicy kick from the salsa roja. I kept going back and forth between the enchilada and the short rib. The enchilada was filled with smokey meat and covered in bubbling cheese. The short rib was falling apart at the seams into a pool of savory grits.
Each dish we nibbled on was great but also grew saltier as the night went on. The Baba-rita had a salted rim, the chips were generously sprinkled and salt nearly overwhelmed the enchilada. Maybe they compounded on each other.
Initially I was worried we didn’t order enough knowing how tapas can be such small plates, but the richness of each dish contributed to our fullness. If you’re hungry, bring a well padded wallet because our meal for two people was around $60.
Babalu is unique. Go there for drinks, to soak up the fun atmosphere with friends, and nosh on a bite or two. Don’t go expecting to order one item as a full meal, traditional Mexican/Tex-Mex food, or a quiet dining room.
Babalu Tacos & Tapas
622 Duling Avenue
Jackson, MS 39216