Friday, July 31, 2009

Who's Grading?

You may recall that I said I do not sew. Well actually, on occasion, I've been known to sew----for decorative purposes only. I think that I would probably sew more if it weren't for those horrid memories of Junior High Home-Ec sewing class. I remember unpicking more stitches than I sewed, or at least it seemed that way. I wanted my project (a cotton slip with lace and an elastic band waist) to be perfect so that I could get a good grade. Yes, I unpicked and unpicked and unpicked so much that I dreaded sewing and hated the finished product.
But lately I've been making some changes in my life. You see, I have spent my entire life only trying things if I first knew that I could do them well. I steered clear of experiences if I felt that I couldn't succeed.
But I have finally realized that I have held myself back from so many wonderful adventures in life. Why do I still feel, years and years after graduating from school, that I am being graded on my performance?
The real truth is,
I'm the ONLY one that's doing the grading!

Even if someone else comments on my performance, it's still MY CHOICE to let their opinion influence my life.
And so, with those thoughts in mind, I pulled out the sewing machine, plopped my faded outdoor cushions on top of pretty fabric and got to work. About an hour later I proudly placed my newly covered cushions outside. I had a real feeling of accomplishment! Are the covers perfect? Let's just say that if I was being graded I would not get an A for quality. But I would get an A+ for effort----and that's really all that matters!
My family and friends will enjoy the new seating. It won't matter to them that the seams aren't perfect. They, and I, will appreciate the overall beauty and comfort of the cushions and the memories that we will make on our back patio.
I have the satisfaction of knowing that I created something beautiful. But even more, I have learned that life isn't about grades, it's about
making mistakes,
and realizing that making the effort
to learn and grow is when we
truly succeed.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Picture a Tray

The only negative thing about making a door into a table is that the uneven surface makes it difficult to display things. I could have topped it with glass, but seriously, who wants to have that additional cost, let alone clean a glass surface constantly.
My solution for creating an even surface is to
use a tray.
Oh how I love trays!
I'm pretty sure I have at least a couple of dozen of them, silver ones, wooden ones, store bought and handmade. But I thought I'd make one more.
I took out a wooden picture frame
from my stash.
Then had hubby cut and glue a piece of
scrap beadboard to fit the opening
(he enjoys taking part in my projects). I gave it a pretty coat of spray paint. And then gave it a good distressing.
My technique for distressing is pretty simple. I start by using my palm sander and scuffing up the areas that would naturally show wear, the edges, corners and under the handles. If I had used brush-on paint, I might have rubbed those areas with wax before painting so that the paint would wipe off easily to show the original layer. To add more character, I use a paint scraper. With both the sander and the scraper I make sure to vary the scuffs, heavy in some spots and lighter, or not at all, in others. If the scuffs are too uniform it doesn't look natural.
I then finish with a coat of stain or diluted brown paint.
I like working with water-based stains and paints because I can spray on a little water and wipe off as much stain as I desire. I try to leave stain in the corners and low areas that would naturally attract dirt and grime over years.Once dry, I added two old drawer handles. I could have added knobs, wooden balls or finials to the bottom for feet like I did on this tray, but I need my picture frame tray to have as much bottom surface area as possible. My new tray is beautiful and serves as a nice flat area on my door table to set my burlap lamp and other pretties.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Comfort and Joy

There is something about a throw draped over a piece of furniture that makes the room feel that much more inviting and comfortable. I wanted to achieve that same feeling on my porches, after all they're like a room---without as many walls.I went on a search to find something that would look both pretty and appropriate. With temperatures in the 90's and 100's it would look a bit odd to have a heavy throw resting on outdoor furniture.
While looking through a linen rack at my local thrift store I discovered a bunch of beautifully hand painted sarongs. These would make the perfect throws for my porches! They're large, lightweight and infused with color.
Now the furniture on my porches beckon one to sit in comfort, to rest for a few minutes and take in the joy and beauty of nature.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Plant It

Last week I found two topiary wannabes at the thrift store. I knew that with just a little work I could help them reach their full potential as topiaries. I pulled out my stash of moss and dry foam (also purchased at the thrift store) and two pots, one from the thrift store and one from a plant I had managed to kill. I cut the dry foam to fit inside each pot, stacking one piece on top of another until the foam was just higher than the lip of the pot. I lightly pressed the foam on top of the pot to have a pattern to follow for cutting. Then I shaped the edge of the foam. I like it to look like it's mounding over the pot instead of sunken inside. I used hot glue to secure the foam into the pot and the topiary into the foam. Then, being careful not to burn my fingers, I planted moss on top of the foam. One pot was planted with the store bought moss, the other with moss that I took out of my yard and let dry for a few days.I'm thrilled with my new topiaries, especially since the total cost was less than five dollars.
Linked to Metamorphosis Monday and Southern Hospitality (Rhoda has a new address).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dollars and Scents

Okay, I realize this post may seem a bit out of the ordinary, yet if you've visited with me for very long you know how much I enjoy finding inexpensive little pleasures. So I thought I would share.
Have you ever bought these delightful bottles of linen water at the dollar store?
They are wonderful for spritzing on your clothes when you iron. But being the non-ironing gal that I am, I've found another use for them. I love to spray them on my sheets and pillows right before I go to bed at night. The scent is very delicate yet it still freshens the bed and the room. Aaahhhh, talk about feeling just a bit pampered, smelling a little L'essence de Provence just as you drift off into dreamland!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lettuce With a Touch of Ketchup

Last summer we built this table from an old door and stair balusters. It was designed to fill an awkward space between a window well and a set of stairs on our patio. It's tall so that it can function as a sofa table behind my wicker love seat. I originally painted the top red, (remember my ketchup and mustard theme?).In my effort to transform my patio into a more restful spot, I thought it was time to give the table a little paint makeover with a beautiful leafy green, reminiscent of a luscious head of lettuce. Then of course I distressed it with sandpaper and a paint scraper to unearth it's past. This little door has not only been red in it's former life, but has also dawned the colors white and baby blue.

Oh how I love a piece with age and character!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sweet, Petite, and Beat

You know there's nothing like finding a few thrifty treasures to make one feel great again! I found this petite metal table while thrifting this past weekend. It was only four dollars and can you believe that I actually had to think about buying it. I'm trying to be selective with my purchases, asking myself where the item will go in my house. Once I decided the new home for this sweet table I bought it and brought it home and beat it with a hammer. You know me, I like things to show a little age and character and this table looked like it had just been spray painted. I'm hoping that now that I've knocked off some paint and chipped it up a bit, it will begin to rust a little too.
And as for it's new home,
it looks quite happy to be joining my finished metal chair.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cheap Art

thank you, thank you for all of your well wishes and prayers! You truly warmed my heart and I can happily report that I'm feeling back to normal (although I'm sure my sons would likely say that I never have been "normal"). In fact, I felt so well that I managed to do a little thrift shopping. I was on the hunt for some cheap art for my back patio. In my effort to make the patio an extension of my home, I thought it would be wonderfully unexpected to display a few pictures and oil paintings.
I thought this vintage floral, along with the dream sign, would be ideal.
A few weeks ago I found this oil painting of an ocean landscape. Now when the weather gets too hot, I can sit on my patio with a tall glass of lemonade and envision myself at the ocean.
And this past weekend I found this charming floral oil painting.
The painting spoke to me. The frame did not, but I knew it would be a quick and easy fix. I removed the painting, put on my paint mask and sprayed the entire frame, cloth inset and all, a pretty shade of apple green.Now it looks fresh and fun and will be the perfect addition to my cheap patio art.
Linked to: Thrifty Treasures and Metamorphosis Monday

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Time For The Truth

Okay, it's time for the truth. While things seem pretty and perfect at my blog, the truth is that I've felt "mostly dead" this entire week. Yes, mostly dead from what is likely a sinus infection from breathing in an over abundance of saw dust and paint fumes from this project. And from the reaction to the drug that is supposed to make me feel better.
Why am I telling you this?
First, because it's good to be reminded that even though all of my projects are done in a "well ventilated area" (outside), it's still good to protect myself, and you should protect yourself too.
Meet my new best friend.
I'll look pretty funny. But funny looking is a better choice than mostly dead feeling.
Second, you must see the truth,
the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth.
Sick as could be, I dragged myself out, did a quick, but unfinished paint job on this chair. And an unfinished clean-up of the area, just so I could present a pretty picture to all who care to see.

But I feel bad---not mostly dead bad. I'm actually feeling almost alive again.
But I have been feeling guilty bad. Guilty for adding to the whole notion that we should always give the appearance of pretty and perfect.
When the reality for all of us is that
RARELY is life pretty and perfect.
And to be honest, who wants it to be?
It's the messes in our lives that make us
appreciate the pretty.

It's the mostly dead moments that remind us
to embrace every moment of living.

I fear that the blog world
can be one more place where

we compare the worst in ourselves
to the best in others

So today I will tell the truth.
My life is often a mess
and rarely pretty and perfect.

And I love it that way!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I Do Not Sew

I do not sew.
So why do I find myself with
a rather large stash of fabric?
And why is it so difficult for me
to pass by
fabric remnants
at the thrift store
or the fabric store?
And why do I even find myself
in a fabric store
when I do not sew?

Perhaps it's because every once in a while
I stumble upon a great deal on some
fantastic fabric.
And then I use that fantastic fabric to cover a seat.And I give that spray paint color a second chance.And the result is an outdoor chair
that looked like this
now looks like this. And, without sewing,
I've made a pretty little spot
by my side door that beckons me
to rest and enjoy my shade garden.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Little Outdoor Cutie

Last year I did a makeover on my back patio. My goal was to have it be fun, summery and a bit retro. I painted my collection of vintage metal chairs and other accessories in the colors of red and yellow. My boys teased that it looked like ketchup and mustard, which meant I had accomplished my goal of having it fun and summery. I also chose to decorate the patio so that it connected to the yard and flower garden, with garden accessories galore.In the spring of this year I stood at the back of my yard staring at my patio. I no longer loved what I saw. The bright colors were fun, but they also created visual clutter. So I chose new goals for my patio. I want it calm, classy, and more of an extension of the inside of my home.
One way that I chose to accomplish the home to patio connection was to incorporate another furniture piece. I decided that a china hutch would be the perfect choice. It could provide storage for cushions during the winter, and beauty and a bit of privacy during the summer. I began my search. The hutch had to be a bit on the smaller side. I didn't want it to overwhelm the patio. It had to have character. It had to be free of glass (who wants to continually clean?). And, most of all, it had to be cheap!
After looking through several thrift stores with nothing to be found, I started my search on our local on-line classifieds. I found this hand-made cutie for twenty-five dollars. What? You don't think it's cute? Well, it did have that grandpa's cabin look, and it was a bit short, standing less that five feet tall. But it did have character and it definitely had potential!We added legs and feet using a 4x4 that we'd found in the dumpster, and fence finials from the thrift store at 50 cents each.I gave it a fresh coat of spray paint, but found the color a little too boring, so I sanded it a bit to prepare it for it's next coat. I pulled out a mis-tint that had the wow factor. The paint was beautiful, but I wanted to add back some of that grandpa's cabin character. Out came the sandpaper and the stain.Thanks to the addition of the feet, this cutie now stands at 5'8'' and looks like a piece unearthed from an attic.
I love it!
Linked to Southern Hospitality and Metamorphosis Monday.
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