A few of you asked about the log side table next to the guest bed, whether it had a story behind it, and how I sealed it. The log actually came from my parents' home in Houston & was part of an red oak tree that came down during Hurricane Ike.
They paid the kids across the street to hack up the tree & dig out the stump. Next time I visited, I found a whole set of logs (formerly trunk) in a little vignette out in the yard holding pots and plants of all sort. My mom did a great job with them, but I wanted to take it step further and bring one indoors. We carted it back to my place & it sat in the garage drying out some more for several months. After that, I sanded the cut surfaces & started to seal it. Because of the texture of the bark, I used spray on Polycrylic (like Polyurethane, but water-based). I sprayed probably at least 4 or 5 coats. For the flat surfaces, I used a brush on Polyurethane for a bit nicer look and something more durable (again, 4 or 5 coats). We've had no problems with it at all! It did split some at the top (as you can see) during the drying process. Many people would tell you to dry it for much longer and do all sorts of expensive, time consuming things, but for us, this has held up beautifully!
Only things to be wary of if you plan on doing it yourself- it's HEAVY. Plan on getting a lot of dirty looks from whoever you ask to help you move it. Also, when my generation walks by, this song often sprouts out.