Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What I Did While I Was Snowbound

It did finally get old and I'm grateful for the thaw and the warm temperatures but I LOVE snow days!  I get to stay home.  I get to focus on me and mine.  I get to CLEAN! 

In fact, I went so laundry crazy in my newly-unearthed laundry room that I broke the washer!  

On snow days, if I so desire, I get to exercise one of my favorite freesourcefull challenges:  having to work exclusively with what's on hand.  I want X.  I have to come up with X out of only what I have in the house.

This time, what I wanted was shelves between the kitchen and the living room.  I know open spaces are good but, in my world, keeping the cats out of the living room became the priority.  The cats definitely do NOT need their own sofa!

My initial vision was of two neat, tidy tower shelves flanking some vintage windows that I had on hand from a house that was torn down.  This plan quickly blew away with the realization that I had nothing on hand that would suffice as towers.  So I took a quick prowl through the garage.

For years I have gathered old wooden fruit and vegatable crates whenever I find them for a steal ($2 or so).  They've been stacked on the fridge in the garage awaiting inspiration.  Inspiration finally came!

I stacked the crates and nailed one set of them to the wall and the other to a support board. 

Then, as I always do, I had that panic moment where I was positive this was the worst idea ever and that it just looked totally rinky dink and shabby (and not in a chic way!) but then (as it always does) it all come together and I think I like it.

My teetering towers semi-secured, I prowled around for fun stuff to put on the shelves -- stuff I WANT to look at (my mantra is: "shelves mean you get to have more cool stuff!"): Mark's milk bottles, Coca-Cola bottles, and vintage soda bottles with obscure names, little drawers, a couple of vintage Fiestaware pieces, my vintage recipe file, chalkware ship bookends, a trio of clocks, a red teapot from my friend Kathy, the toy car that Matt's father played with as a child, an old Army first aid kit box, a favorite basket made of a wicker woven together with an old coffee can, and a vintage photograph of construction workers eating lunch on a soaring beam during the construction of the Empire State Building.  There are also sign letters -- a capital "R" and a lower case "a" because, back in the 70's when CB radios were all the rage and my grandfather and I were fishing and driving buddies, my grandfather's CB "handle" was "Big R" (his name was Romayne) and mine was "Little a".

Two boxes of my mother's and grandmothers' cookbooks came out of the attic.  I've felt guilty for stashing them there.  There is so much family history in those books that they needed to be a part of our daily kitchen -- especially now that the girls to cook so much.  There are cookbook compilations from schools we've attended, family churches, junior leagues, the air force base in my home town, even a departed cousin's memorial cookbook.  There are two sets of Helen Corbett's cookbooks -- clearly my mother and grandmother respected this woman in ways I will have to discover.  Also included on these shelves is my grandmother's copy of Julia Child's cookbook "The Art of French Cooking" that I gave to Emily a couple of Christmases ago along with copies of the book and the movie "Julie and Julia" (a great concept story about a woman named Julie who set out to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook in 365 days).

On the backside of the stacked crates I hung simple burlap curtains and added three globes from my collection and a vintage ice chest on top of a vintage chalk-painted sideboard.  I am quite pleased with the way all this looks from the living room.

As much as I love them, I keep catching myself feeling a bit reluctant and ashamed to present these shelves to the world.  I worry that they might look trashy and junky.  I often find myself trying to fit into a cookie cutter concept of "perfection" (whatever that is) that I think I see around me.  But then I realize, when I shake off the "shoulds" and the "perfects", that I find so much more meaning in the old and the imperfect, in those things that have character showing and stories to tell and that have survived time.  Like the rich roadmap of wrinkles on elderly hands, these items present family history, social history, and a visual journey that sleek perfection simply cannot.  I hope you concur.  If you do not, I believe you're missing out -- and you're probably reading the wrong blog!

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