Friday, September 30, 2011

Letting It All Hang Out -- Creativity is Messy!

The wonderful thing about a blog is that you can frame your world any way you want.  On my blog I can be smart, clever, creative, tidy, witty, young, and happy all the time.  I only have to show what I want to show.  I get to put whatever spin I want on whatever I show.  I get to play God (a little).

The happy corollary to that principle is that, in figuring out what I want to show and what I want say about things and who I want to be on the blog, I usually end up influencing my life for the better.  The process of living the dream of writing a blog and being the person in the blog transports me into really living the dream every time I write a post.  Just thinking about writing a post is usually beneficial in itself.  It's all a very healthy process that has greatly enriched my experience of my life.  It's magical to wake up in the morning with a blog post in my head.  Sometimes I go through life framing things in terms of blog posts -- which is a also blessing!

The bad thing about blogging is that, sometimes, a blog can, inadvertently, make other people feel bad about themselves.  For example, I almost exclusively show photos of clean spaces.  Some people think their houses pale in comparison to my (feigned) tidiness.  Unless you peer into the background on some of the in-process shots, you might think that I live in the magazine house that I want desperately to live in but can never seem to achieve.  The truth is, I hurl all sorts of junk out of the way before I take most of my photos!  There!  I said it!

I've recently gotten hooked on Pinterest (  If you you're the creative sort and you haven't checked it out  you're missing out!  On Pinterest are many photos of fantasy craft rooms.  Perfect, neat, tidy, colorful, glorious craft rooms.  Positively dreamy.  Here's a sample:

I am very lucky to have a craft room.  I call it my "project room".  I designed it myself.  I love it.  It has many of the elements of the "perfect" craft rooms.  It has a huge closet lined with shelves, a big worktable, cubbies, cabinets and shelves galore, double and quadruple French doors, display shelves over the doors, a workspace for my sewing machine, and it's own little patio and garden area.  Plus it's crammed with historical artifacts from my life and family.  It's a good day when I get to play in there!

I've wanted to post a piece on my project room for weeks now.  Except I can never get it clean enough.  I'll make some progress and then I'll get into a project (or twelve!) and the room gets strewn with stuff on top of the stuff that was there already.  And the walls are only partially painted.  And I haven't painted the faux bricks on the floor yet.  And I just recently finished painting the French doors and the trim -- a task I started a  horrifying NINE years ago!  And then I started the flea market booth and now I make even more messes than before!

Soooo... in the interest of being real and unintimidating, I've decided to just show it to you the way it is.  If I ever get it cleaned up and perfect, I'll post photos and you can be happy for my accomplishment.  In the meantime, and at the risk of making myself look like a total slob and positively shabby in comparison to the Pinterest craft rooms, here is a photo tour of my playroom -- with abundant evidence of play!
Cabinets, cubbies, and projects in progress (for example, the green frame awaiting it's fabric center).

The fabric that will be in the green frame.
I adore my sage cabinets and the vintage barkcloth
 (on the right - that's been in the family since it was new)
that curtains off the area under my sewing machine.

My work table and a bit of a view of the windows. 
Drawers for gifts and wrapping supplies under the table. 
Cubby for knitting yarn bottom left. 
In the far corner (out of sight, unfortunately) is the off-white velvet armchair
that was in my mother's room when I was a baby.  I love having it.

The worktable is made from two sets of cubbies
(free from the curb after someone tore them out of their closet)
with a counter on top (repurposed from elsewhere in the house)
 that still needs a bit of trim.

My sewing space. 
Lower cabinets are stock cabinets just set in place with a counter laid on top of them. 
Upper shelves are just cheap shelving units from Walmart. 
All are painted sage green to unify them.
Above is my collection of vintage chenille for making baby quilts.
They are on a vintage store fixture that was used for displaying men's shirts --
but I always think of it as a vintage pie shelf! 
Love my french doors! 
The stained glass window is just hanging there for safe storage -- but I love getting to look at it! 
The blackboard on the right was always in my grandmother's laundry room during my childhood. 

My  "Yellow Stuff".  An accumulation of history (from left) my childhood sewing basket, my high school/college sewing basket, my mother's sewing basket, my grandparents' ice chopper, fun juice glass and foil/wrap dispenser, my Aunt Margaret's treat tin, my grandmother's flour tin, my ex-father-in-law's chicken plate, plus a few miscellaneous acquisitions to the right. 

The right half of the glorious closet.  Pretty close to being labelled-bin-heaven once again with just a bit of tidying!

I hope you feel all tidy by comparison now.  And now I must go dream of achieving perfection while I clean my project room to reclaim my pride.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Bitter End -- Part Two

After I wrote the piece "The Bitter End" (see blog archive if you missed it -- August 26, 2011), a strange thing happened, more memories bubbled up, and some conclusions solidified.  So I guess the story's not quite done.

When I posted the piece (which, had no photos in it), a thumbnail photo of a house came up with it.  I have never seen this house before.  Usually, when I post a piece that has no photos, one of MY other photos comes up with it.  This is not what happened this time.  It's almost as if the evil spirit is showing me where it lives now.  I don't know.  But, if you recognize the house, beware!

As I reflected on the piece (which, by the way, got the most hits of anything I've ever posted!), I remembered other incidents.  The most dramatic of them I want to add in here.  It involved an antique dresser mirror that was my friend LaGayle's.  It looked a lot like this:

Though not a freebie, it was in the house because it was in my car when the transmission died.  So we put it in the house for safe keeping.  At least, we THOUGHT it would be safe!  As Mark was moving out, he went to carry the mirror out.  He carried it out the front door, across the front porch, and out the front porch door.  When he reached the front step, something forcefully shoved him off the step from behind.  Luckily, Mark had the presence of mind to toss the mirror off to the side as he fell in the other direction.  The mirror smashed into hundreds of sharp, jagged pieces but, fortunately, he was unharmed.  That mean thing managed to destroy the nicest piece in the whole house.  Of course.  But I am SO glad it didn't harm Mark.

The conclusion that I had in my head the whole time I was brewing "The Bitter End" (which was several months, by the way), evaded me when I actually wrote it.  But it bubbled up immediately afterward -- when I was on the road and away from the computer and unable to edit it in.  It was the overall conclusion that I had come to on the subject of evil spirits and whether or not we were really encountering one -- something that I don't believe in. 

My conclusion was this:  How much of this story do I believe?  I believe none of it.  And ALL of it. 

I do know, however, that something really wonderful came out of it all.  Whether there was something in that house or not, I don't know.  Whether there is evil among us, I don't know.  But I treasure the skill that Mark and I learned there.  We learned to recognize something dark, section it off, and kick it out.  That is a hugely valuable life skill.

I read a near-death experience story once (I read alot in that genre).  In it, a woman died (temporarily) and went to a place that was filled with all the negative human emotions:  fear, anger, hate, envy, bitterness, irritability, despair, depression, anxiety, loneliness, sadness -- the list goes on and on.  She realized:  all these negative emotional are the components of evil.  I had never thought of it this way.  I had always thought of it as: there are human emotions and there is evil -- as two separate things.  Now I see that evil is among us all the time and the daily challenge is to choose the good and reject the bad.  I truly believe that fear, anger, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, in particular, are the instruments of evil and that we have the power to reject and evict them. 

I do not say this lightly.  In my college years I was almost completely disfunctional from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and agoraphobia.  If I could sit through an entire class without having to leave, that was an accomplishment.  If I could get out of the grocery store with everything I went in for (instead of having to cut off my shopping incomplete), that was an accomplishment.  If I could get all the way through my Tuesday night dinner date for $2 veggie plates at the 410 Diner with my roommate, Deirdre (bless her for loving me through that challenging time!), without having to go sit in the car, that was an accomplishment.  Every day and every task was a minute-by-minute hell.  For the better part of four years.  I know the depths of that kind of hell.

I have also watched many people I like and love struggle with the ravages of substance abuse   (I will be posting a piece on substance abuse soon called "Evil Comes In A Shiny Can" -- stay tuned.)  I believe that this is a tool the devil uses to gain access to the soul.  I really do.  I have watched it too many times. 

The point is:  Mark and I have learned to see when something dark overtakes us (often we have to point it out to each other).  We can recognize it (though often not immediately).  We can label and contain it -- which diffuses it (often much more quickly that you might imagine).  And we can tell it "NO!" and kick it out. 

Whether or not this comes from "real" encounters with "real" evil doesn't matter.  This is a life skill that catapults us in the direction of love and light and good. 

If you like a happy ending, like I do, I have one for you:  The evil's wicked plan has backfired!  Good wins!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Giant Pickle

I found a pair of old shutter doors in a dumpster.  Someone had written "Furnace" on the backside of one of them, so I guess that was their purpose in life previously.  Of course, I pulled them out and took them home. 

I had no idea what I was going to do with them.  But I knew an idea would find ME.  One always does!

And there are always scraps of wood laying around in my world.

And I had six tempered glass shelves that I found several years ago and saved.  Because I knew a project would find THEM. 

Then I saw this transformation on a blog (VT's Wood and Wire!/pages/VTs-Wood-Wire/143687065645141).

With that inspiration, it took on a life of it's own and I put it all together:

Just framed out.

With shelves.

Testing paint colors

All done.

I was very anxious about the color for fear that it would end up looking like a giant pickle but now I think the color is the best part about the finished product.  I wrestled with the color issue quite a bit but the color finally chose itself because the decision was based on what paint I had on hand.  I could envision it black but the black paint didn't cover and was going to take 3 coats or more.  So green it was!  I am very grateful for the divine kick in the right direction on that one.  It definitely pushed me out of my comfort box!

For the record, this piece cost me not one single cent to make.  Everything was totally FREE: shutters, glass shelves, scrap wood, trim moulding, nails, screws, and paint. 

Yesterday I put it in my flea market booth.  Of course, I forgot to take a picture.  But it looks great, holds a ton of stuff, and received two compliments immediately. 

I'm not all gung-ho to sell it but, if someone wants to buy it, they'll be paying me $140 in very satisfying compensation.

The best part is that there are more shutter doors out there!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

$3.43 Worth of Pretty

Are you tired of my bathroom yet?  Good!  I'm not either.

If you'd told me that an $8.14 can of brown paint, a bunch of white junk, and miscellaneous thrift store silver would look so good, I would have done this many ages ago!  Even after almost three years, I am still completely enamoured with it.

I found this wonderful ivory wire spice rack/shelf at the thrift store recently and spent a whole $1.75 on it (of course, I erased the "I just bought this" photo of it in my car!).  After which, I called Mark to confess my extravagance.  Actually, this really was a big deal considering my mostly-free-junk-procurement mentality.  I JUST LOVE IT!

You might have seen these pink plates before.  They were in the brown sun porch master bedroom in the Taylor Street house.  They looked just yummy against the brown walls.  So I put them against brown walls again -- this time in my Fayetteville bathroom (which you will get to see below) where I get to look at them on a daily basis.

These plates are also wonderful enough to have siblings that made it on to the gorgeous mosaic headboard and footboard that my incredibly talented friend Vanessa is creating which I just have to show you because it's AMAZING.  It is even more stunning in person than in photographs. And it's not even done yet.

Can you find the pink plates?

You can see more of Vanessa and her work at

Being less amazing than Vanessa, I just hang my pink plates on a cool wall rack (and take crappy pictures of them): 

I found the small oval platter (which, like the pink plates, has gold detail -- none of which you can probably see so I probably shouldn't tease you by mentioning it. Like you care!) in a stack of plates I keep around to fuel my fantasy that I'll be Vanessa one day. Ha!

I paid $1.75 for the rack, $.99 for the two pink plates, and $.69 for the small oval patter. That's a whole lot of pretty for $3.43!

Here's a view of the whole wall for orientation:

And an overview of the room which shows the $2 pink rug that Mark and I both fell in love with (separately) at a garage sale.  It's a pink t-shirt material rag rug.  I LOVE a man that will share in my love of pink.  (Or maybe I'm sharing in his love of pink?  Even better!)
Angel Stephanie -- Do you recognize your rocking chair?

And then, because it's all about what my massively-visual brain gets to look at, I'll show you what I see when I'm IN the tub:
The rose print that was inspiration for
the mood of the decor at our wedding reception
(on a $2 shelf with $2 and $3 candle holders and $1 candles).
And the footboard from a wonderful old bed
with a glorious pink lid tied on with a length of brown satin ribbon from our wedding.

Ok, now I promise to stop with the bathroom.  Unless some wonderful new vision appears there. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

We Had A Fight About Nails...

Mark and I were talking Saturday morning when he asked if I'd finished a project I'd been working on -- a red chalkboard and coat hook piece that I'd decided (after putting it all together) I wanted to cut in half to make into two pieces.  The plan is to have a free-standing chalkboard with frame and, after cutting it off, to turn the bottom part upside down and make it a separate coat hook piece with a shelf on top.  Here is the piece in question:

Which started off as this (and some other stuff I had in the garage):

I told Mark that I hadn't finished it because I was stalled out for lack of proper nails.  Mark, in true Mr.-Bossy-Pants, former-Walmart-manager fashion, lapsed into one of his directionals:  "You need to go down and spend $1.57 and get some nails!"

Adverse to leaving the house on a Saturday morning for fear of losing a big chunk of the open-ended project time that the weekend presents, I told him that I'd just wait until some nails turned up.  After all, I was prowling around in the garage (among other places) and I knew it was inevitable that I would find nails eventually. 

Mark had a fit over this and told me that I was being ridiculous.  Maybe, but I knew two things:  I had plenty of other projects to transfer my attention to (it's not like I was just going to sit around and do nothing because of the nails) and I have an uncanny "the Lord will provide" streak to my projecting.  Things that I need turn up and they turn up quickly -- often within 24 hours.  The things I need tend to find ME! 

I could feel the nails coming.  I enjoy the anticipation and like watching the process unfold itself in front of my eyes.  Half the fun was in seeing how the nails would come about. 

Mark didn't get this.  I think he even hung up on me out of exasperation at my resistance to doing it HIS way.  Or it could have been the blinding migraine he was getting.  Probably the latter.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. 

Of course, everyone had a job for me on Saturday.  Eric (Emily's boyfriend) wanted me to drive him to work because Emily didn't feel like it.  I nipped that one in the bud when I told her that I didn't feel like it either and he's not my boyfriend and that's not my job.  Then Matt, who had gone to Tulsa for the day, wanted me and Emily to go to the site of the chicken house he's been building for a client and move ten 50 lb. bags of concrete under cover before it rained.  Argh!  Then Tessa need to be taken to a friend's house.

I figured it was best to just get it all done at once so we took Tessa and then went to move the concrete (he owes me for this!).  The good thing was that where there is chicken house construction, there are nails -- in this case, just enough long finishing nails to complete my project!

See?  The Lord does provide!  I told Mark the nails would turn up and that they'd probably turn up within 24 hours.  And they did!

I rest my case.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Unveiling Pinky's World

It's not quite the utopia of color I want it to be yet, but here's my flea market booth in it's infancy.

I still have TONS of things to shoe-horn into it.  But it's a start!


Approximately 97% of what's in it came to me for FREE!

If you're in Fayetteville, stop by All My Treasures on highway 16 and buy something!

Green Handles

Sometimes I just have to show you things I love.

Kitchen utensils of the past (circa 1920's-40's) were often wooden and often red.  On rarer occasions, they were green.  I love and collect both colors.  Here is my jar of the red-handled utensils.

This particular green-and-black-handled potato masher is dumpster bounty.  Can you believe that?   Found in the dumpster.  Like it was trash or something!  What's wrong with some people?  Geez!

The newest arrival!

It fits right in with it's new family:  my collection of green-handled utensils, mostly provided to me as sweet gifts from that cute boy I married who knows I love them (and him!).

I particularly like the scoop with the yellow stripe and the delicate icing spreader.
Photographed here on a trip to my kitchen.

They all live in their vintage jar in my dining room where I keep all things green.  But which I can't photograph well at the moment because that's also where I currently keep all things headed to the flea market booth!  But here's kind of a shot of them in their natural habitat (I had to climb over the dining table and a bunch of junk to get this shot so appreciate the great lengths I go to for blogging excellence -- ok, mediocrity!).  They live with my mother's bamboo tray, my mother's green pot that she grew a glorious giant red amaryllis in every Christmas, and my favorite vintage alarm clock.

Aren't egg-beaters just dinosaurs now?

It's always fun to find a green handle in the random kitchen utensil bin at a thrift store for a dollar or less.  It doesn't happen often but every once in awhile...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Saga of the Dining Table

I woke up Saturday morning with the delightful prospect of having an entire three day Labor Day weekend ahead of me (and no one else awake yet to spoil it by wanting something from me).  I lay in bed as the pale sunlight started to intensify outside the bedroom windows and wondered what to start my day with. 

I threw some shorts on under the t-shirt I had slept in (the best formula I've found yet for getting things done), made a cup of coffee, and wandered out to the front porch in the searching daze of a creative fanatic without a project.  I kept feeling that I needed a focus but I couldn't figure out what that focus was going to be.

I can't remember now what I went to retrieve from my car but, when I opened the back hatch, there it was!  My focus.  The weekend project that sleep had erased from my brain. 

I bought this table at the flea market for $22.50 (with tax: $24.58).  It had sat there for quite awhile and had been marked down repeatedly.  I knew I had free black paint in my project room.  I knew I could dress it up!

Here it is right-side-up:

The finish was so ugly it looked like the table had a laminate top. But it was solid wood.

And here is a detailing of the water damage on the top surface.  It has these blemish lines every five inches down the entire length of the surface.

I posed my table-painting plans on Facebook and was quite shocked to stir up a few wood-lovers who were horrified that I would paint over wood and who were very humanitarianly(wooditarianly?)-concerned for the "distress" I was putting the poor table through. 

Oh PLEASE!  It's called French Country.  And people pay extra for it! 

I adore painted furniture and I don't care what anyone thinks about me painting this table (as long as someone is willing to pay for it in the end -- of which I am confident -- worst case scenario: I might have to keep it which is very tempting to start with!).  I am constantly dragging something out to the front yard to paint and I have done so for time that can now be counted in decades and I have never once regretted it -- even when I was worried that I was making a mistake. 

I sanded the top and painted the table with two coats of glorious inky black paint called "Black Kettle".

I've been needing to learn how to distress furniture for awhile now.  This table taught me how!  It goes so contrary to instinct to take sand paper to something you've just tried so hard to get perfectly painted.  But I dove in and sanded away (maybe not as much as other people do when distressing but I may get carried away with it as I do it more and more)!

This photo was taken before I sanded that lower edge of the table top.

These photos don't really capture it but here's a look at the finished product.  I had to tell the girls "no" to eating dinner at this table in the front yard out of fear of mishaps!  THEY like it!

The table is now listed on Craigslist for $225.  Why not fish high?