Unconventional Materials Table Top Re-do

Well hello there guys! I am back and happy to announce that this semester is over and finished it off with two A's and one B. Now let's celebrate. Grab some pop corn and junk food because it's going to be a long one.
So I finished this project I am about to share with you guys a couple of months ago but I just never posted it and also I wanted to see how it was going to hold up. You'll see why in a minute.
When my boyfriend and I moved from Texas to Ohio all we had as far as furniture was a blow up mattress and well that was about it. That thing served as our bed, couch and dining table. Sometimes all at once. Anyway, when I finally got around to getting us a dining room table, the process took a lot longer than I expected. All of them were huge tables, cheap little dinettes or just something weird. Then it happened, the perfect size table and chairs for the space we had. So I bought it for $70 table, an extension leaf (which I later turned into a bench) and 5 chairs. Yeah it was a little pricey but I got tired of eating on the dang blow up mattress.
Here's what it looked like when I got it.

So there it sat for months! I am serious. Getting used to life in Ohio, school and family this thing was left forgotten. I knew exactly what I wanted to do to it, yep, you guessed it, stain the top and paint the rest. The thing is the freakin' top is LAMINATE. *begin dry heaving now*

I went on Pinterest/ Google for help and got tons of ideas:
1. Replace with an old door and put glass on top of it. Nope, couldn't find an old door for a reasonable price.
2. Replace with wooden planks of some sort. Nope, really not that handy or crafty.
3. Just paint the whole thing. Nope, I was very adamant that I was going to stain the top. That's my idea and I am sticking to it.
4. Glue paint stirrers on top of it and stain. Voila! 
4 is the lucky number but of course its never that easy. I had a paint stirrer laying around from some paint that I had bought and I set it on top of the table. Immediately I realized that I needed to go back to the drawing board. The paint stirrers were just so thick and I was going to need like a saw of some sort to cut through all of them and it was a lot more work than I was willing to do. So one day walking through Wal-Mart it hit me!!!!
These little things talked to me! Look even they are happy!
See the difference in thickness ^
Technically they are made of wood too and I am just going to go ahead and say it. This takes a bit of time but it is seriously so inexpensive and to me, personally I loved the effect I got at the end.
I just started placing the popsicle sticks on the table and went from there. I started laying them down randomly, subway-ish tiled, some type of design and you name it. I finally decided to just have them going all kinds of ways. I also decided that the length of them was too  long for my taste and went ahead and measured them all to 3 inches with a regular tape measure.

I scored all of them in the box with just a regular pencil. I did not now how  many I was going to end up needing (oh you have so much to learn little one) and hours of Netflix later I had scored and cut all of them. I cut them with a big pair of scissors I found in the hardware section of Walmart for a couple of bucks. They cut very easy too.
At first I decided on this pattern and started placing them down on what I thought was the center. I did measure even though it does not look like it in the angle of the picture.

Before I started gluing I roughed it up a little with some 80 grit sand paper.

 I just started gluing and gluing and watching Netflix. I put something heavy on top of them because I did notice that the sticks started to curl up at the edges.

And as you can tell, this is where it happened. I was sitting down doing thing and wasn't even noticing that I was totally off center going all kinds of ways. I had to pop every single one of these suckers off with a screw driver and a hammer (this glue is no joke), sand down the leftover glue and start all over. *hysterically laughing and dry heaving all at the same time*
As you can see, there is trial and error in everything. Not all of the things you see on Pinterest comes out perfect the first time. Don't get discouraged.
When I regained consciousness I started over, you would thing I learned my lesson but no, I wanted the same type of pattern. But this time instead of doing "V's" I started doing "L's" hope that makes sense, don't know how else to explain it.

My sanity, one day later and another box of popsicle sticks since I had to throw away most of the ones I popped off, the table was completely covered. I just went over the middle part where it I supposed to separate but I knew I was never going to use it for that. Especially since I made that bench out of the leaf.

There was a lot of gaps between many of the sticks, so clearly not all popsicle sticks/measurements are made equal. I filled it with wood filler and it looked perfect. Since the table is oval I had some pieces that did stick out quite a bit so all I did was got a tiny little hand saw from Walmart and used that to saw off the pokey edges. I went back and sanded them to get them smooth.

 After I filled all of the gaps with wood filler, I started sanding the heck out of this thing to get it as flat and smooth as possible. I made it this far so now I kind of had to go through with it.

After all was said and done and I did enough sanding to last me a lifetime, I stained it with Minwax Jacobean (the $3 sample sizes was more than enough for this table), sanded it smooth a couple more times and put a few layers of Poly. since it was going to get a lot of use.
This little stinker is the biggest pain in my behind. I glued it the wrong way and I refuse to pop it off because I am scared I am going to mess everything up. It's right in the middle but my centerpiece covers it.
 As you can see it's pretty flat and people that have came over say its pretty darn smooth. It has held up perfectly as well.

Sorry for the crappy cell phone pic.
So if you are ever THIS bored or have no idea what to do your table top, I hope this helps. I did not even spend 100 bucks including the table itself to do this. All you need is popsicle sticks and patience. 

I hope you learned something new and enjoyed this little DIY. Hope you stop by again.