the old brown mare ain't what she used to be: tale of a buffet makeover

     Years and years, (and years) ago, back when Chris and I were planning our wedding, he lived in an apartment furnished with nothing but a bed, a dresser, one huge stereo system, a television and a small square table for 4. He, a single guy, loved sitting on floor pillows and saw no need for real, grown-up furniture. 
     By stark contrast, I worked in a furniture store and was studying Interior Design in college. I came from a large family who ate together often. Furniture and food were my life. Not much has changed, has it?
     Family friends were selling a 1940s era, Duncan Phyfe mahogany dining room set which included an extendable, double-pedestal table, eight chairs, a monster buffet and petite china cabinet. They were also throwing in a small writing desk... all for $300. Being the frugal, decorating diva that I am, I decided to buy it all for our future home. 
     Upon learning of my plan, the spouse-to-be expressed his opposition. Why did we need furniture? We could sit on the floor. For every occasion. Forever. Bahahahahahaha. Sure, dear. Whatever you think, honey.
     So, fast forward nearly thirty years... The little desk has been faux-finished to resemble reddish-brown leather and sits in the upstairs office. The ricketty chairs one-by-one refused to be repaired any further. The last three went to the Salvation Army five years ago. 
     The old table has seen much better days, but remains tenderly wrapped and safely padded in our attic. The china cabinet with it's small, vintage size seems dwarfed by the larger scale of our current house.
See the drab, brown buffet lurking in the background?
     A couple of years ago, we purchased a massive, industrial-style dining table I found at Pottery Barn Outlet. It is very dark wood. So are the new chairs. And the buffet. And the china cabinet. And the entry-way sideboard. And the hulking entertainment armoire in the adjoining living room. 
very Unimpressive
     That's it... I'd had enough. NO MORE BROWN! Time to brighten things up. I was downtown with some lady-friends and spied this buffet at a local shop. It is the inspiration for my buffet makeover.
spotted at One Fish, Two Fish
    After removing the buffet's hardware, doors and drawers, I began by sanding the entire piece to rough it up, wiping it down to prepare for painting. My husband painted the entire thing with Valspar's Day at the Jewelers from Lowes.
     After two coats were applied and left to cure a day or two, I took the belt sander to the buffet, intent on the aging process. I followed that up with a fine grit sand block to smooth it out before staining. By sanding areas that are frequently touched, you get a more authentic hand-worn appearance, like behind hardware, on corners and legs, edges of doors, etc.
     With the sanding was finished, I vacuumed, then wiped the entire thing down with a damp cloth. This removes any dust or residue. Two shades of water-based stain, (mossy green and golden oak,) were applied to deepen the color of the paint, giving it a vintage-y aged feel. 
     After allowing it to dry for a couple of days, my husband applied a coat of paste wax to protect the finished buffet... Beautiful. Bold. not Brown.

let's review: mediterranean tavern, pooler, ga.

     I had errands to run Saturday morning... stepping out early to beat impending thunderstorms. My husband, who accompanied me works in Pooler, Georgia and is always on the lookout for new dining opportunities. By lunchtime, we were done piddling around town and our breakfast was a distant memory.
     A few years ago, Pooler, (a northwest suburb of Savannah right off of I-95) was touted as the fastest-growing town in the state. I don't know if it still has that distinction, but it feels like the gospel truth. Every time I drive 15 minutes north, I find all kinds of excitement going on. And, hey, their town slogan is, It's cooler in Pooler. Ha.
Greek side salad
     Today, our new-found gem is Mediterranean Tavern. We stopped in for lunch and left feeling very satisfied. Owner and talented pastry chef, Helen Goniotakis has only been in business since March, 2013. In addition to the creative Mediterranean menu, a pastry case filled with homemade sweets sits front and center in the dining room. It beckoned us to as we dined... "Why don't you come a bit closer, shugah..."
     We each ordered a Gyro with a small Greek salad on the side. The menu offers french fries or roasted and seasoned Greek potatoes with a gyro. As tempting as the Greek potatoes sounded, we chose the healthy option... in order to justify dessert, of course. Our side Greek salad was $2 extra, but well worth the up-charge.
     The salad arrived first. Half expecting a handful of mediocre lettuce tossed onto a styrofoam disc, we gawked in stunned silence at the display set before us. Side salad? Really? It was at that moment we concluded that there would be leftovers. Hooray for Sunday lunch!
     Arranged neatly on a real plate shaped like a lettuce leaf, the salad was comprised of crisp, mixed greens, a huge chunk of fresh feta, tomatoes, green peppers, red onion, cucumber, Kalamata olives, pepperoncini and a stuffed grape leaf. It was large enough for a meal...warm pita points and a flavorful Greek vinaigrette sat on the side. (I wondered if the regular salad is even larger? I guess I'll have to go back to find out. Someone has to do the market research!)
this photo doesn't do justice to the gyro
     The gyro was generously portioned as well. The meat, which was falling out of a warm, over-stuffed pita was very tender. The tzatziki sauce made me want to dive in and swim around... cool and refreshing on a warm summer day. It made a great dip for the warm pita triangles on my salad plate.
     Our sweet server, Lindsay, persuaded us to try the baklava... No arm-twisting necessary. We did have a salad, after all. The rolled baklava was nice and cinnamon-y. (Yes-huh, cinnamon-y is too a real word.) The flaky filo surrounded the nutty, sweet filling. When I bit into it, the soft crunch sound made me a bit giddy. Good baklava will do that to a person.
homemade baklava
     While chatting with Helen, we learned that each second and fourth Saturday, the restaurant features a belly dancer during dinner. Plans for a monthly Greek night are slated for the future. Imported Greek musicians will be on hand to entertain diners. You need to check out this quaint eatery in Pooler... it's where the cool people are.
Mediterranean Tavern on Urbanspoon

chicken tikka masala my way

Dear Soulmate, I know you are all about FAST in the kitchen, but you're also a very thrifty girl. Here is my version of ...