Friday, June 15, 2012

Woman Country!

This blog was originally about furnishing and decorating my house for FREE.  There's a long and very creepy story about why we don't have that house anymore that's detailed in the post called "The Bitter End" ( if you want to read about it.

Lately, this blog has been about cheap/free projects and general frugality. 

But, sometimes, I post things on this blog just because they make me happy!  Usually, this things cost me little or nothing or even made money so they fit with the general FREESOURCEFULL theme. 

This is one of those posts!

I will admit it.  I am sort of a hoarder.  And I included the "sort of" part just to make myself feel better!  My garage is the bottle neck of my life.  If I can only get it cleaned out and organized and functioning the way I need it to, it will solve many problems in my life.  Really! 

I'll spare you the explanations and excuses.  You wouldn't buy them anyway.  But do keep in mind that I had/have a staging business and also that I have emptied four storage units in the past couple of years.  So, I really HAVE made progress -- even if it doesn't look like it!

On Wednesday night, in the midst of a very busy, wall-to-wall day, I walked into the garage for something.  Well, actually, I had to climb over some stuff to get into the garage.  This photo was taken after after I cleared a path. 

I don't even remember now what it was that I went in there for.  And I don't really know how it happened.  I just started moving things.  After a while, I decided that, regardless of all the millions of other things I SHOULD have been doing, I was going to get the most done if I stayed with my muse and worked on the garage while I was on a roll. 

Several hours later, I dragged myself in the front door to find some dinner.  Two of my girls met me in the front hall and asked: "Do you know what time it is?"


It was 11:29 p.m.!  I had no idea!
But it was worth every second I had spent out there.  And it was worth starving for!

In 2002, when we added onto the house and re-oriented the garage to open to the side, I turned the previous front entry into a little bumped-out workshop.  It's about six feet deep and 20 feet wide.  My ex-husband claimed it as the only area in our girly, female-dominated house that was "HIS".  He dubbed it "Man Country". 

Well, now we're divorced and I'm well on my way to getting the worst dregs of his motor-old covered car junk out of there and making it MINE!  So it is now "WOMAN COUNTRY"!

Now that I write this, I remember the subliminal image that must have started me on my garage-cleaning.  It was this glorious magazine photo of workshop heaven which I had taped to the wall in the garage for inspiration and hope for future transformation:

Isn't it glorious?

That must have been what got me started.  I think it happened when I realized that there were shelves in the photo and I had THESE sitting by the front door on the way to the trash:

And then they just happened to be the perfect length and then one thing led to another and now, still far from OCD/Martha Stewart perfect but a vast improvement over my previous garage hell, here it is:

I haven't made the labels yet but the shelves from the top down are "Construction Materials", "Cleaning Products", "Care Care", "and Auto Repair".  Then, below the shelves, are places to hand power tool cases.  Beside the shelves to the right are extension cords, a nail and screw organizer, and other "flat" things that won't impede the door from opening. 

There's a workbench under the window.  It holds a chopsaw on top and, underneath, the shop vac and a chainsaw case.  Here a two crappy photos that,if put together, might give you an idea of what it looks like:

Here's the other side of the workshop:

It contains my beloved table saw (which I use ALL THE TIME!), lots of little drawers for small items, my fun old red magazine holders (lest ye thing I'm just a magazine hoarder, I REALLY DO go back to these magazines over and over for inspiration), and some other junky boy stuff that I still have to sort through which is over and under a fun old black-topped school science lab table.

Anyway, it's not perfect (yet!) but it makes me happy.  I keep catching myself standing in the garage just admiring it or finding excuses to go through there now that I can walk unimpeded!

Speaking of impeded... There's still the REST of the garage to be dealt with:


Dijon Viniagrette

Per Missi's suggestion in her comment on my previous post, here's a quick recipe for our favorite salad dressing.  Truth be told, I stole the recipe from my gourmet friend Sarah!  Thank you, Sarah! 

Dijon Viniagrette

1/2 cup oil (olive when I have it around, canola or vegetable when I don't)
1/2 cup vinegar (white, cider, red wine, or rice wine vinegar -- whatever's     available or suits my mood!)
1Tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk or shake well. 

I use this for chopped veggie salads -- cut up whatever veggies are in the fridge (carrots, cabbage, brocoli, cauliflower, zuchinni, green onions) and add dressing.  Sometimes I add lentils or beans.  Cilantro is always a great addition.  Just use what you have!  It works on lettuce too, of course!  And also makes a good marinade/sauce for chicken.

Sorry there's no photo.  Maybe later!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stuff Being Broke Has Helped Me Learn How to Do Myself

I've been keeping this list in my head for months now!  I think it's time to write it down and free up some brain cells for other activities (like thinking and creativity and catching typos, perhaps)!

Here's a list of things we now make from scratch instead of buying ready-made or eating out:

Fried Chicken
French Fries
Potato Chips (sometimes)
Corn Dogs
Chicken Strips
Asian Orange Chicken
Stir Fry
Fried Rice
Salad Dressings
Soup Stocks
Whipped Cream
Laundry Detergent
Furniture Polish
Giant Gummie Worms!
I'm thinking I need a bread machine now too!
(I'm sure I'll be adding to this list as I remember more!)

And heres's a list of things I've learned how to do:

Change the brake pads on my car.
Change the battery on my car.
Repair iPhones.
Repair washers and dryers.
Replace kitchen sink faucet.
Replace light fixtures.
Build a TV antenna out of household items (that WORKS!).
Build a chicken coop. 
Upholster furniture.
Sew slipcovers.
Make pillows.
(I'll add to this list too, I'm sure!)

My 18-year-old daughter has learned all manner of auto mechanics and auto body repair from her father in our driveway. She can now diagnose many problems by engine noise alone!  I am very proud!

Luckily, I already had some skills in my pocket.  I can paint (rooms and furniture) well,  sew just about anything, and I know a lot of construction and home repair from flipping houses in the past and I've used those skills a lot -- though not as much as I'd have liked to because of a lack of money to buy materials!  I'm still researching cheap/free flooring ideas!  Mark wants to do a whole floor in bottle caps!  Wouldn't that be fun!

Alas, these skills have gotten me into trouble because I think that, even without money, I can still find a way to have most things that I want. 

Oh wait!  I CAN! 

With time, patience, optimism, luck, creativity, and FREESOURCEFULLNESS, I can usually find a way! 

And I'll tell you a huge secret:  it's more fun and vastly more satisfying to have to find a way and then to "win" by succeeding despite the obstacles!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

First Impressions

If you had told me when I woke up yesterday morning that I would be on the local news by evening, I would have probably locked myself in my room all day for fear of horrific car accidents or deranged random shooters because those would be the only ways I could have imagined myself being on TV in the course of the day.  

Note to self:  when you comment on the local news stations "fishing-for-stories" post on Facebook in the morning, try to sound boring unless you really want to be on TV!  But I couldn't fight it much because I knew that the subject matter was something that I feel myself to be a bit of an expert on and, though I know that there are many who have struggled much more than I have, I hoped to share some hope with others who are going through hard times.  That's a big part of what my blogs (this one and are about.

I'm a writer.  Broadcast media is SO not my genre!  I majored in English and Communications in college.  In the Communications department, I tried very hard to focus on PRINT media.  I even fought them a little on some of the ways they wanted me to "round out" me degree with broadcast stuff.  So right now the writer in me just wants to go hide behind reams of paper.  Or a keyboard.  Guess that's what I'm doing right now!

Addtionally (if you'll indulge one more anecdote), when I was in the 9th grade and it came time for The 9th Grade Play and I HAD to be in it, I worked very hard to get a spot as an Act Director because the Act Director's job was the stand, blessedly, BEHIND the curtain and whisper the lines if anyone forgot their lines while on stage.  Today, I'm looking around eagerly for red velvet curtains to hide behind!  I am just very, very uncomfortable with the entire concept of being on TV.  Apparently, I knew that in both the 9th grade and in college.  And now.

But I WAS happy with the story.  When it finished airing, my oldest daughter turned to me and said something like, "Mom, you don't look OR sound that good in real life!"  Thanks, honey! I'm glad it was there when I needed it!  

All that said, I have one major observation about my 90 seconds on TV.  The very talented Garret Krier did an amazing job of editing and summarizing and I do feel that I was well-represented.  However, seeing the story made me realize all the more that EVERYONE'S life is infinitely more complex than anyone will ever know.  I'll be careful not to think I know all about someone just because I saw them on TV from now on.  And then I will go back to the novel I am working on where I get to play with trying to make my characters deep and complex and, hopefully, almost REAL and where I get 300 pages to try to illustrate them rather than having to try to do the impossible like Garret did and try to catch something in 90 seconds!  The thought exhausts me!  But the projects and the blog posts DON'T exhaust me so STAY TUNED!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Tesily-Grace Website!

Check out my other website where I sell furniture that I have fixed up!

It's called Tesily-Grace (a combination of the names of my three daughters: Tessa, Emily, and Sara-Grace).

You can find it at

This is what it looks like:


My Kind of Fun!

Two very dirty red sofas: $12.99 each
Power washing at the car wash: $3.00 each
Now listed on Craigslist (15 hours later), two very clean red sofas: $150 each!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Delicious Edwardian Fashions

As you may have heard me say, lately I've been researching Edwardian fashion for the book I am writing.  This is because part of my book is set around 1915-1917 and I have to dress my characters, you know!

In the course of this research, I have come to realize that I have had a lifelong passion for the styles of this era, I just didn't know what the exact era was and what it was called.

Here's a sampling of the best stuff I've found today:

You may have noticed that these are very Titanic-esque.  This is because the Titanic sank in 1914.  This also gives me an excuse to  plunge into some Titanic costumes/fashions -- like this gorgeous coat which I just might have to try to make someday:

Which goes over the beautiful "swim dress" as it's called because it's the dress she goes into the water in (the pink coat is called "the swim coat").

Here are a couple of replications:

This last dress (which I think looks a bit too nightgown-y) is from a webpost called "How to make a Titanic swim dress on a budget". (

So we did.

To be historically accurate, the black underdress would be long.  But Tessa wanted to wear it short today.  We bought a robe with lace-edged sleeves for $2 and a wide black belt for 97 cents at the thrift store and voila!

And then there are the wonderful vintage shoes!  I found this picture of these fun 1913 shoes online.

I had these in my closet which are basically the same thing ($4 from Goodwill):

And a couple of other relevant pairs ($3-4 each) just to prove that the passion is consistent!

And, of course, I still want THESE:

Don't you?

Friday, June 1, 2012

The House Project

Allow me to give you an "in progress" report on the house I've been furnishing!

A few "before" and "after" photos:

These old kitchen cabinet drawer sections were 50 cents apiece.

When I replaced the missing knob on the bottom drawer, I had to pay
a whole $3 -- SIX times what I paid for the drawers!

Drawer segments "after". 
They started out as a console to go under the big screen TV and ended up being a sofa table/desk unit behind the sofa
 (see photo below where they "kinda" show).

$10 dresser.  Looks good in this shot but the top was scarred up and dimpled from water damage.

Dresser after (with doors still to be put back on)

Boring, blah, bland, blonde night stands with ugly laminate tops -$12.50 each

Nightstand after.

The whole "Zen" bedroom.

$2 frame.

Not a close-up but an "after" shot of the frame.  Inside is a burlap-like fabric and paper letters.

I bought three of these chairs (complete with puppy-chewing damage on the lower spindles) for a total of $4.50 for all three.
$10 partially-stripped drop leaf table.

Chairs and drop leaf table "after".  They all ended up going elsewhere in the room.  These things have a life of their own!

The livingroom partially done. 
The candle holders on the table (which still need two more candles and a bamboo tray underneath them!)
are old metal weightlifting weights.