Monday, February 4, 2013

Coming up...

Jeans Shortened with the Original Hem!
Cat-Proof Laptop Cord!
Amazing Spinach and Artichoke Dip!

And the pièce de résistance:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I screwed up this pair of pajama pants!

Today, I had intended to show you the fabulous pair of pajama pants I started sewing last night.  I took photos of each step, feeling more and more awesome with each phase I completed.  My husband came out of the bedroom around 12:00 a.m. and asked, "Um, how much longer are you going to be sewing?"  I took his hint, finished my stitch, and saved the rest for this morning.

I've been racking my brain trying to think of something simple, but useful, to sew for my husband.  There are thousands of sewing tutorials for easy projects on the feminine side-- but my husband doesn't really like to wear skirts, and I'm not sure that a ruffly upcycled tshirt would fit his style.  So, I settled on pajama pants.  He loves pajama pants-- who doesn't?

So, when I got up this morning, I got to trucking along on the PJs.  What ensued could easily be written into the next episode of Whitney or The New Girl.  (Adorkable!)

When the time came for my husband to try on the pants so I could mark the waist and the hem, I realized that I probably should have paid more attention to the tutorial I was following.  "These are cool, but they're a little tight around my butt." There he stood, waist pulled up to his pectorals, crotch seam sticking out at me instead of facing-- well, his crotch.  And, yes, the backside may as well have been shrink-wrapped around his rear end.  We just stood there and laughed.  He looked absolutely ridiculous.  I kind of wanted to cry, but the whole thing was so comical that I couldn't possibly be upset.  "What did I doooo? OMG, what did I DOOOOOO?"  Those were the only words I could muster.

At that point, it was clear that these would be MY pajama pants.  (He has a better butt, but mine is smaller.)  I started ripping seams, putting things back together, hemming, failing at buttonholes for the drawstring, cutting the holes with scissors instead (who needs finished edges, anyway?), and finally finished those damned pants.

My good friend, Jeff, has suggested that I start a new line of pajama pants called "M.C. Jammers."

They're terrible, but somehow they actually work, which is the most important thing, I guess.  When I put them on, they LOOK like pajama pants.  Pajama pants made by a 3-year-old.  For M.C. Hammer.  I did something terribly wrong in the crotch area -- still haven't figured out quite what it was -- but trust me, there is something wrong with the crotch, although the seam is facing in the right direction now.

For the record, the crotch of the pants is nowhere near the place where it ought to be.  It's easily 4" too low.
Basically, what I'm saying is-- that's not my crotch, okay?
(I was totally bustin' a sag in the back, too.)

Thank goodness I had the foresight to use an old flannel sheet for this project; no harm, no foul.  They're actually quite comfortable.  I'd ask you not to laugh, but that would be expecting waaaaay too much.  Go ahead and laugh.  It's good for you.  Lord knows I did.

I learned some valuable lessons from this experience, so I'm glad it happened.  When I have compiled a proper pajama pants tutorial, I'll take a few moments to review what you definitely should not do.

Screwing up a pair of pajama pants is hard work, but I did it!  And so can you!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I made this delicious (and good looking) chicken noodle soup completely from scratch!

Okay, that's a lie.  I did not not make the egg noodles.  I picked those up at Albertson's, but everything else about this soup is completely homemade, I promise!

I love cooking.  I've been cooking for a long time, and I'm one of those people who photographs pretty much everything that comes out of her kitchen.  I've never blogged my food, but I have a pretty extensive photo album on Facebook detailing many of the things that I've cooked over the last few years.  Friends have been telling me for as long as I can remember that I should write a blog, and my response was always, "Ha! I don't have the time or dedication for that!"

Well, since I published my first blog post, I've been determined to make the time and work really hard on the dedication.  I'm currently working on pre-requisites for a master's degree in physician assistant studies, and I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to studying.  I'm prone to dedicating myself fully to one thing rather than piecing it all out and prioritizing-- some call this "hyperfocusing."  While it is great for my grades, it's not so good for maintaining a good sense of balance in my life.  So, this blog is one of several things that I'm using as a tool for diversifying my time portfolio, even if it's still 85% studying and 15% "other." :-)

Wait, where was I?  Oh, right.  Chicken noodle soup.

I have a really easy "go-to" recipe that I kind of made up on a whim and have been perfecting over the last couple of years, but it's a quick one that involves boxed chicken stock, chicken bouillon, and frozen vegetables.  My husband LOVES it, and he'd be happy if I never even looked at any other recipe.  Chicken noodle soup at my house is usually a last minute, "Hey, let's make some chicken noodle soup!" followed by scraping up most of the necessary ingredients from the pantry and the freezer.  This time, though, I actually planned ahead after this post from Elise at Simply Recipes showed up in my RSS feed several days ago.

What actually caught my eye about this particular recipe was Elise's technique of parboiling the chicken bones for five minutes while skimming the "scum," dumping the water, rinsing the chicken pieces, and THEN starting the stock with fresh water.  This resulted in a beautiful, clear stock with no weird-looking chicken stuff floating around in it.

Another thing I liked about her recipe was that the "primo" chicken meat (i.e. the breast and thigh meat) are removed from the bones and set aside while they are still raw.  This way, the stock still gets to simmer with all of the bones and some of the little meaty bits, while the "stars" of the chicken meat don't go in until the end.  This way, they don't get overcooked.  I used her suggestion of putting the breast and thigh meat into the soup whole, removing and shredding them, and re-inserting the shredded chicken into the soup.  I prefer my chicken noodle soup with large shreds, rather than "chunks," of chicken.

A couple of other areas in which I strayed from Elise's recipe: My boyfriend, Tyler Florence, puts bay leaves into his chicken stock.  I love the flavor that bay leaves impart, and since my boyfriend says to use them, I did.  (Tyler isn't really my boyfriend.  I'm married to a wonderful man who isn't Tyler Florence.  But I still like to call him that.  Especially since I had the opportunity to meet him once and pose for a little photo op.)

Tyler Florence Book Signing
Don't be jealous.

Also, my husband is not fond of celery.  He's not fond of a lot of vegetables, actually, but he doesn't mind cooked carrots.  So, while I used celery in the stock, I did not add it to the actual soup.

This is also probably a good time to mention my "house seasoning."  I'm from Louisiana, where Tony Chachere's takes the top shelf spot in most spice cabinets.  But since I came across my own seasoning, it has pretty much replaced poor Tony.  I still use Tony's in certain applications, but my husband and I always, ALWAYS have a little glass jar of our house seasoning by the stove, and we use it for pretty much anything that needs to be salted.  The recipe can be found here.  So, instead of using the 3 tablespoons of salt suggested for seasoning this soup, I used 2 tablespoons of salt and then supplemented to taste with my beloved house seasoning:

 House seasoning.  It's pretty, too!

My final alteration to this recipe was made because we like for our chicken noodle soup to be less on the watery side and more on the "just a little bit thick" side.  Not a whole lot of thick, not even enough to coat a spoon, really.  Just a little.  This COULD be done by using a roux, but I just add 1/4 cup flour to a glass measuring cup and fill to the 1/2 cup mark with water.  I guess you could consider this a slurry.  Then I pour it slowly into the soup at the very end, stirring quickly to avoid producing any lumps.

The result of all this effort is a delicious, comforting, heart-tingling pot of chicken noodle soup.  I dare you to eat just one bowl.

So, there you have it.  Simple, satisfying, and *almost* completely from scratch.  I did it, and so can you!

Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into parts (giblets removed)
5 carrots (2 for the stock and 3 for the soup)
2 stalks of celery, including celery tops
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves of garlic, peel on, cut in half
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or a teaspoon of dried)
1 bunch of parsley
2 bay leaves
5 whole peppercorns
House seasoning
12 ounces of egg noodles
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour with enough water to make 1/2 cup "slurry"

For the stock:

Remove the breast and thigh meat from the bones, discarding skin, and set meat aside in the refrigerator.

Put remaining chicken bones into a large stock pot and add enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes, skimming any scum that rises to the surface.  Remove the stockpot from the stove, dump the water, and rinse the chicken and stockpot well.

Return chicken parts to the rinsed stockpot and add 3 quarts of water.  Cut 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks (including tops) into 2" chunks; add to stockpot.  Add quartered onion, garlic cloves, thyme, 1/2 bunch parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns.  Cover and simmer on very low heat for 1.5 hours.

Strain stock, reserving chicken pieces.  Remove any "good" meat from the bones and set aside*.  Discard vegetables (or eat them, if you'd like-- they'll need some salt at this point.)

At this point, you can save the stock for later use, or go ahead with the chicken noodle soup.  I had to refrigerate my stock overnight because I ran out of time.

For the soup:

If you refrigerated your stock, put it back on the stove in your stockpot and turn the heat to high.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and then add more salt or house seasoning to bring stock to desired level of saltiness.  (Remember-- you can always add more, but you can't take away, so be careful!)

Add carrots and reserved chicken breasts and thighs to the mixture and cook until chicken is no longer pink inside.  Remove the chicken, cool until handle-able, shred with fingers (or a fork or a Kitchenaid stand mixer-- one of the best kitchen tips EVER).

While the chicken is cooling, add your egg noodles to the pot.  Turn the heat up to medium and cook the noodles for 8-10 minutes.

Add the shredded breasts and thighs back to the pot, as well as the reserved chicken meat that you picked from the bones after making the stock. *

Give the flour and water mixture a good whisk, and slowly pour into the pot, stirring well as you pour.

Season to taste one last time with salt (or house seasoning) and pepper.  Stir in desired amount of chopped parsley.  And enjoy!

*Elise suggested that the chicken meat from the stock may be too dry and tasteless to use in the soup, but could be used in chicken salad or the like.  I was really surprised at how much meat I was able to remove from these bones, and because the pieces were relatively small, I didn't find them too dry or tasteless-- so I used them in the soup.  The more chicken, the better, I say.  This is totally up to you!

I made my own "house seasoning," and I use it on everything!

I was exchanging recipes with my friend, Nathan, a few years back, and he sent me a recipe for crispy potato wedges.  I made them immediately, and while the potato wedges themselves were great, my husband and I noticed that the SEASONING on these things was outstanding!  We both agreed at that moment that we were going to start preparing the stuff in bulk to keep on our counter as an all-purpose blend for those times when plain ol' salt just won't do.

Grilled meats, roasted vegetables, baked potatoes... you name it.

And we have kept that agreement.  It's salty, a little bit garlicky, a little bit spicy-- well, it's just perfect.  It sounds simple on paper, but once you actually USE it, you'll see what I'm talkin' 'bout.  I call it our "house seasoning."  My husband calls it "home spice."  Whatever you call it, you'll never want to run out.  We buy the ingredients in large containers at Costco to ensure that we always have a steady supply.

It's super-easy to make your own all-purpose seasoning blend at home.  I did it, and so can you!

House Seasoning

3/4 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano

Combine all ingredients.  Store in an airtight container.  Use on everything!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I sewed this cute little drawstring bag with fabric scraps!

That's right-- I sewed something! And it took about 30 minutes. Imagine how fast I would have been had I actually known what I was doing!

I used a leftover scrap from my recent barstool upholstery project.
The bag is very unrefined, but it works!
My mama is so proud.

Please bear with me in my excitement.  This is really the first thing I've ever sewn.  Well, except for a bunch of scrunchies that I made with my mother's sewing machine when I was in the 8th grade.  It was a short-lived hobby-- I think it lasted about a day.  But let me tell you, I made the hell out of some scrunchies that day.  Mostly neon colors, naturally.  It was the late 80s, after all.
Anyway, I just purchased this sewing machine on Craigslist a week or two ago.  It has sat and stared at me, looming ominously from the industrial-sized Pampers box in which it was delivered.  I swear I heard the theme from Jaws playing every time I walked by it.  A new sewing machine is scary!!

Anyway, I was determined to do SOMETHING with it today, so I swallowed my fear, took it out of the Pampers box, watched a few YouTube videos to help with threading, and grabbed some fabric scraps to practice my stitching.  This blog has some excellent tips for getting comfortable with your machine.

I started by practicing my straight stitching.  I failed.

Yep, I failed at making a straight stitch.  Over and over.  The top of the stitching was completely uneven and loose, and the underside was a tangled-up mess.  I started Googling possible causes for this, and came to the conclusion that my thread tension needed to be adjusted.  Well, I adjusted and adjusted and adjusted some more, and NOTHING worked.  I re-threaded.  Nothing.  I started to worry that my machine was a dud.  I called my mother and asked if she had any suggestions-- she said that I just needed to play around and work with it.

Well, I played around.  I worked with it.  I considered throwing it off the balcony.  As I approached the beginning stages of a meltdown, I noticed a key phrase on my computer screen.  Something about "lowering the foot."  I had tinkered with quite a few things on my machine in my attempts to "fix" it, but I didn't recall doing any foot-lowering.  I reluctantly peeked into the owner's manual, and there it was.

Yes, indeed, I had missed a pretty crucial step.  I had no idea I was supposed to do that.  I should probably actually read that manual at some point.  But not today-- ain't nobody got time for that!

Once the foot was lowered, I was straight stitching all over the place.  Feeling a bit like a boss, I skipped the rest of the practice tutorial and grabbed my fabric.  Earlier, I had stumbled across this tutorial for a simple drawstring bag.  It looked easy enough, and it was somewhat practical, so I decided that this project would mark the beginning of my life as seamstress extraordinaire.

I followed the instructions to a T, and it couldn't have been simpler.  A tip for getting the drawstring through the pocket easily: Fasten a safety pin to one end of the drawstring and run that end through first.  Pull and bunch, pull and bunch, pull and bunch until it comes out of the other end.  I also tied little knots at either end of the drawstring to give it a more finished look.

One thing that bugged me about the end result was that the entrance and exit holes for the drawstring are unfinished.  Looking back, I would have folded and sewn those edges before making the drawstring pocket-- but oh, well.  For a first-time project, it's not too shabby.

The photo doesn't offer much in the way of a scale, but the boards in the background are 3.5" wide.  The bag itself is about 10" long.  It kind of reminds me of a wine bag-- just a few minor adjustments to the fabric dimensions would yield a super-cute and easy way to gift a bottle of vin to the hostess at your next party!  I also think that this particular bag would look especially precious with a red satin ribbon as the drawstring.  I'm planning to do a little switcharoo tomorrow. :-)

So, that's that.  I am officially a seamstress!  If you're just getting into sewing, this project is pretty foolproof, and it is excellent for providing that little boost of confidence that you need to really get going.  Trust me-- this is coming from someone who didn't know she was supposed to put the foot down.  I did it, and so can you!

UPDATE: I replaced the original drawstring with a piece of red braided cotton twill tape.  (I think that's what it's called-- I'm still working on my seamstress lingo.)  Even cuter!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I upholstered these World Market barstools without sewing a stitch!

So, I bought a sewing machine the other day, from a lady on Craigslist.  It's a decent beginner sewing machine, practically unused, and I got it at a great price.  And I haven't sewn a thing with it yet, mostly because it intimidates me.  You see, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I'm afraid of the kind of monstrosities that might come out of the other end of that thing.

My mother is a fabulous seamstress.  She used to make these adorable little smocked dresses for my sister and me.  I'm not sure if she ever bought me a dress when I was a little girl-- my only memories are of the ones my mother made.  At the time, of course, I didn't appreciate it.  Here I was in my exquisitely-sewn Sunday outfit, looking at the girls in their frilly store-bought outfits with tulle and shiny satin bows, thinking, "I want a dress like THAT!"  In hindsight, of course, I'm glad my mother never gave in.  My dresses were passed down to my sister, and even my little nieces have worn a couple of them for photo shoots.

My mother asked me if I'd like to learn sewing several times as I was growing up.  My response was always, "Why do I need to learn to sew when I have YOU?"  And now, here I am, wishing that I had taken her up on the offer.  However,  I am determined to learn, even if it means teaching myself.  (We live too far apart for her to give me hands-on lessons, but I'm certain that a phone call or 200 will come out of this!)  I've been reading up on some blogs and scoping out some YouTube videos to help me ease into it.  One of these days.

Anyway, the good news is that this fabulous barstool makeover requires not a single needle -- just foam, batting, fabric, scissors, a utility knife, and a staple gun!

I had not intended to write a blog about this project (I didn't even have a blog two weeks ago), so I don't have many photos of the actual process, but trust me when I tell you that you don't need any.  My good friend, Pinterest, led me to this blog at "A LO and Behold Life," in which the same process was performed with similar barstools from Target.  If you feel like you need to see photos of the process, you can find them there.

Before and after:
What a difference!

Now, here's how you do it.

  1. Backless wooden barstool(s)
  2. Upholstery foam - I chose 1" thick regular-density foam (from Joann's Fabrics)
  3. Batting - I bought the cheapest polyester batting (from Joann's Fabrics)
  4. Fabric of your choice - Make sure it's upholstery grade, or at least "home decor" grade.  You want it to be durable enough for sitting.
  5. Staple gun with 5/8" staples
  6. Something to measure with - I used a T-square, but you could probably get away with a measuring tape or yardstick.
  7. Scissors - Make sure you have a good, sharp pair.
  8. Utility knife

  1. Measure the top surface of the barstool.  (Mine was 18" x 13".)
  2. Measure the depth of the barstool seat.  (Mine was approximately 1" deep.)
  3. Cut your foam to the exact top dimensions of the barstool seat.
  4. Cut your batting to the top dimensions of the barstool seat PLUS the depth of the seat on all sides PLUS about 2" on all sides.  (For example, my batting ended up being 24" x 19".)
  5. Cut your fabric to the same dimensions as your batting.  Important if your fabric is patterned, and you want it to have a nice, symmetrical look: Make your measurements outward from where you want the center of the barstool surface to fall.  You also need to take this into consideration when purchasing your fabric, to ensure that you have enough fabric to cover your stool(s) with the awesome, perfect pattern that you have in mind.
  6. Place the batting rectangle on a clean, flat surface (for me, this was the floor), and center the foam on top of it.
  7. Turn the barstool upside down on top of the foam rectangle.  (Make sure it lines up a closely as possible.)
  8. Grab your staple gun and start folding the batting around the seat, stapling it to the bottom of the seat.  Make that you pull it slightly taut all the way around, as this batting is what smooths your foam out and makes it look nice and neat.
  9. Once the batting has been secured to the barstool, cut off the excess and turn the barstool upright.
  10. Lay your fabric over the cushiony new seat.  If your fabric is patterned, and you measured according to the center of your pattern, you can either measure or eyeball to get the pattern exactly where you want it.  I eyeballed mine, and it turned out great!
  11. With the stool still upright and your pattern in place, bend over and staple one edge with just a couple of staples, to hold it in place.  Stretch the fabric slightly as you repeat this step for the other three sides. 
  12. Now, turn the stool over again so that it is upside-down, and use the staple gun to secure the fabric all the way around.  Make sure that you're stretching it evenly-- stop a few times in the process to turn the stool over and get a look at your progress.  If you aren't satisfied with something, a flat head screwdriver and a set of needlenosed pliers should remove the staples.  I don't have a great method to share for the corners -- I just kind of worked with them until they looked good to me.
  13. Trim any excess fabric that may be hanging down, use a hammer to nail down any staples that didn't quite make it all the way into the barstool... and you're done!
This whole process took less than an hour for two barstools, in my experience, and the transformation was JUST what they needed.  I had no idea upholstery could be this easy! I did it! And so can you!

Monday, January 14, 2013

I transformed this Ikea Hemnes coffee table into a beautiful farmhouse table!

My inspiration for this project came from -- where else?-- Pinterest! I happened upon this blog post by Shannon at The Feminist Mystique, and when I saw what she had done with her ho-hum coffee table, I knew I had to do it with mine.  Hers was the 3'x4' Lack table; mine is the 3'x4' Hemnes table-- both are from Ikea, and while they would be perfect for certain settings, the minimalist design was a little boring in my living room.

The original Hemnes table:
Easy DIY Ikea Hemnes table to farmhouse table transformation Douglas fir boards vinegar steel wool stain

It's part of a collection of solid pine tables from Ikea.  However,  it is SO dark and smooth, and so little grain shows through the finish, that it's really pretty indistinguishable from the less expensive particle board furniture pieces that are more common at Ikea.

Now, on to the project!

I was THRILLED with the results of the homemade stain I made from brewed tea, vinegar, and steel wool, but I'll get to that later.

I headed over to Lowe's and started looking at the 1x4 wood boards.  I decided on Douglas fir boards, because they were the cheapest ones and, well, this IS an Ikea table.  I didn't want to put more money into improving it than I did when I first purchased it.  I bought five 8'-0" boards and had the fellow in the back cut them in half for me.

DIY Douglas fir wood boards cutting

Unfortunately, the fellow didn't cut them EXACTLY in half, and some boards ended up being up to 1/2" longer than others.  While the idea was to make a rustic, imperfect table, 1/2" was a little too imperfect.  So, my real journey began with cutting these things down to size.  Upon the advice of the Ace Hardware man, I decided to use a small hacksaw.  We have a decent supply of tools in our garage, but no motorized saws.  Well, the hacksaw just didn't cut it.  (See what I did there?)  It took FOREVER to saw through those boards, and deep into the process, I realized that an old-school rasp was a more efficient option for getting rid of that excess wood.

After the boards were of relatively equal size, I took my rasp to the end edges and started rounding them, following with a good sanding of all surfaces using 120 and then 220 grit sandpaper and my trusty Black & Decker Mouse sander.  I was so proud of these boards until I laid them on my table and realized I had rounded the ends a little too much-- I did not like the look AT ALL. 

DIY rounding sanding Douglas fir board corners rasp saw mouse 

Fortunately, there was enough overhang for me to rasp and sand them back to a shape that was a little more angular, but still slightly rounded.  I also rounded the top sides of the boards from top to bottom-- the edges that would be showing once they were attached to the table.  These are the re-done ends:

Much better.

Now, for the really fun part -- the staining!  When I first went to pick out my materials at Lowe's, I also picked up some steel wool.  I had read a few articles online about how to weather or oxidize wood with the product of a chemical reaction that occurs when steel wool dissolves in vinegar.  I researched a few variations of the method and finally settled (loosely) on this one by Hillary at The Friendly Home.  The steel wool / vinegar solution reacts with the tannins in the wood, creating a stain that can vary in hue and darkness depending on the following:

  • the type of wood being used
  • the length of time during which the steel wool dissolves in the vinegar
  • the number of coats of the "stain"
  • the addition of extra tannins to the wood

I chose to use Hillary's method of first brushing the wood with strong brewed tea.  I used PG Tips, because I had it in my pantry, and I used about twice the amount of tea specified on the package per volume of water.  I probably made about 4 cups of tea, which was WAY more than enough.

Black tea is chock full of tannic acid.  Although the wood that I used contains natural tannins that would definitely react with the oxidizing solution, impregnating the wood with strong tea magnifies the reaction substantially.  The result is a more rapid and dramatic reaction than would be achieved without applying the tea.  If you are a chemistry nerd like I am, you can read more about the science involved in the reaction here.

Meanwhile, I took two big wads of #0000 fine steel wool and tore it into pieces, dropping it into about 3 cups of white vinegar first into a glass bowl covered with Saran Wrap, but eventually transferred it to a plastic bucket with a lid. (The smell. OMG, the smell.) Some websites stated that glass must be used for this process, but I took a chance with the plastic bucket, and it worked just fine.  I steeped my steel wool in the vinegar for approximately 36 hours and then strained it through a chinois, though other people have used coffee filters or cheesecloth.  The product looks absolutely disgusting, and it smells even worse!

DIY steel wool vinegar stain wood oxidizing solution before

DIY steel wool vinegar stain oxidizing solution after

You'll probably want to prepare your steel wool / vinegar mixture at the beginning of your project, so that it'll be nice and ready for you when you're ready to apply it to your wood.  That is, if you're like me, and preparing the wood takes days.  If you're really good with woodworking, you might want to start the mixture a day beforehand.

Anyway, I laid down a large plastic dropcloth and placed the boards on it.  Using a cheap foam paintbrush, I painted all sides liberally with the tea and stood them on end (on a dry piece of parchment paper) to dry.  The tea doesn't have to dry completely-- it just needs to soak into the wood until the exterior surface of the wood feels mostly dry to the touch.

Now, get ready for a magic show.  As you can see in the appetizing "after" photo of the steel wool / vinegar solution, there's not a whole lot of color to it.  When you apply it to your tea-treated wood, however, you will be amazed.  I was, anyway.  I'm a nerd like that.  Using another cheap sponge brush, I brushed each board on all sides with the solution and again stood them up to dry.  (Be sure to wear gloves when you're staining your wood.  My hands and nails looked like a car mechanic's when I was done.) I'd say that it took about 15 minutes for the color to fully develop.  Here is a before-and-after shot:

DIY steel wool vinegar stain oxidizing solution on Douglas fir before and after

DIY steel wool vinegar stain oxidizing solution on Douglas fir after
 Pretty amazing, right?

I found that I needed only one coat of the solution for my desired color to develop.  It was a nice, warm, brown color-- but I had something else in mind.  For the life of me, I cannot remember where I read this, but did you know that you can use shoe polish as a furniture wax?  I didn't!  I had tried a test spot on one piece of wood to see what kind of effect black shoe polish would have over this color, and I LOVED IT!  The black deepened and cooled the shade a bit, and it really highlighted the grain.  So, after the boards had completely dried, I rubbed a thin layer of black shoe polish (Kiwi Parade Gloss) onto the boards and let it dry.  After about 15 minutes, I buffed the boards well, and the time had finally come to apply them to my table!
Easy DIY Ikea Hemnes table to farmhouse table transformation Douglas fir boards vinegar steel wool stain before

I chose to screw my boards from the bottom of the table with 1 1/4" wood screws into predrilled pilot holes.  I used an electric drill to do this -- I don't even want to imagine doing it by hand!  I put one screw into both ends of each board, and ran another line of screws down the center of the table.  I was worried about the fact that one of my boards was a little concave, but the screws flattened it out perfectly.  

Now, all that was left to do was to apply a couple of coats of Johnson's Paste Wax.  (This is really important in "sealing" the wood, especially since black shoe polish was just applied.  Also, furniture wax is not the most durable finish for furniture, especially heavily-used surfaces, but this is a rustic table, so I am not too concerned about that.)  I used the natural color-- I applied it in a thin layer, let it dry for 15 minutes, and buffed it well with an electric buffer.  I repeated this process, and... my table was DONE!  (Please ignore the mess -- I had not put away my makeshift "wood shop" before I took these photos!)

Easy DIY Ikea Hemnes table to farmhouse table transformation Douglas fir boards vinegar steel wool stain after

This project was a little bit laborious for a l'il ol' gal like me who has NEVER done anything like this before.  There was a lot of trial and error involved, and I definitely would have benefited from a more developed arsenal of tools. But I DID IT!  And so can you!