Monday, September 6, 2010

Sometimes I dream...

of having a little shop. A small brick-n-mortar storefront with a big front porch. I would sell vintage and re-purposed furniture and decor items... goodies that I currently pile in my garage, or just have to pass up because I can't own it all.

I would sell creative, beautiful indie art and crafts, made by local and almost local artisans. I would decorate and stage my shop by creating little vignettes throughout the shop, and sew up slipcovers and curtains out of vintage tablecloths and tea towels.

I would provide baskets and vintage market carts for my buyers to use to carry their goodies. Because they wouldn't be able to buy just one item!

I would plant a garden of herbs and hostas and lovely flowers. I would place vintage statuary and handmade stepping stones in it, along with some metal gliders and perhaps a porch swing... or maybe that should be on the porch? A little quiet reflection in the middle of a day is never a bad thing. For buyers or sellers. In the fall, I would divide my hostas and give some to my buyers. In the summer, I would include a little bag of fresh herbs for every visitor.

My front door would be painted turqouise. A yellow ceiling would brighten up the inside, but the walls would be a lovely shade of eggshell white. However, this would look pretty amazing too...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Seller's Remorse

A few weeks ago my sister and I (have you met my sister? She's awesome!) had a spectacular and exhausting estate sale at our mother's house. My grandfather built the place, and mom bought it about five years ago. She died last fall, so we've had the house on the market and need to get it sold. Before that can happen though, we needed to get things cleaned out. We've spent time out there over the last year going through the things in the house, cleaning out cabinets and closets, and deciding what's going to be kept and what's not. It was a long, but not as emotional as I expected, process.

In the end, we spent a couple of long evenings tagging and organizing and staging the things that were going to be sold, and had a line of eager buyers queuing up outside when we opened the doors Friday morning. By the end of the first day, almost all of the large furniture pieces were sold and gone. The second day all of the remaining furniture sold, except this dresser and a few antique beds. I think we had them priced right - the challenge is to sell full-sized beds. Most people seemed to be looking for queen-sized.

We can post what's left on our local Craig's List, but I may just store the beds until I have guest rooms to put one or two in. And the dresser may come home with me as well. We'll see... I already have several things set aside to keep, including this table. It was in our house since I was a kid, and it's perfect for a corner of my living room. I'll cover it with picture frames full of smiling faces of my family.

Even with the things we're keeping, I keep thinking of a few things we sold that I wish I had kept. There was this gate leg table, for example. I had no use for it and no idea where I would use it, so it was priced and sold. Then I saw a spread in the October issue of Country Living where a very similar table was being used as the breakfast table in the kitchen and thought "dammit! I could have had that table!" Not to mention, I'm sure the price we put on it was a bargain. But we wanted to get stuff out, not make a fortune.

Then there was the dining room table my grandfather built, which I didn't get a picture of, unfortunately. It had a narrow middle-section, two large drop-leaves on either side held on with piano hinges, and mortise-jointed legs. I remember hearing conversation about the hinges when I was younger, how they were difficult to do well and how great the table turned out. And we sold it. I do appreciate that the man who bought it was also a woodworker like my grandfather, and he seemed impressed to hear that my grandfather made it. That's how I took his reaction, anyway. I just have to keep reminding myself that I really do have enough things he made to share with my kids someday.

At the risk of being annoying, I took the time to tell the stories that went with particular pieces as people bought them. Like the little bucket with the nut cracker and pick set that set on the fireplace since forever. It was always full of walnuts and pecans, and my grandfather sat next to the fireplace and ate nuts in the winter. I considered keeping it, but 1.) I'm far too lazy to eat nuts out of the shell; and 2.) have enough other memories of my grandfather. You just can't keep all the Things in an effort to stay connected. It's an easy mistake to make, but my sister and I made a promise to ourselves early in this process to let things go unless we truly loved them, and/or we would be able to use them. Neither of us need more stuff. She's been better at keeping that promise than I have.

We were really pleased to see several things go to people who appreciated their history and their ownership. One of my grandmother's cousins bought a chair that had been in an upstairs bedroom for years. Turns out, according to another family member, the chair was a gift given to my great-great grandmother in the 1920s. They were thrilled to find out it was a family piece, and we were happy that it stayed in the family. A couple of bakers' racks that my grandfather built also found good homes. One to a young couple who are also cousins. He used to mow my grandparents' yard and spent some holidays at the house. When he found out his wife was at our sale he told her to get something my grandfather made. The other went to a woman who worked with my mother and went to church with my grandparents.

Life goes on. Things find new homes. I've got to find room for my new stuff...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I get email from HGTV almost every day.  It's freaking distracting on a good day, and downright evil on a day when I would rather be doing anything else but sitting at my desk at work.  Or on those days when I don't mind being there, but I'm supposed to be writing something and the words aren't coming.  On those days, an email full of suggestions for redecorating my bathroom or how to plan color palettes in a kitchen are obviously going to get bumped to the top of the priority list.

So today was kind of one of those days.  Or at least it was for a couple of hours.  I did actually get work done.  Shut it!  I did!!!

And I got the email from HGTV that, after clicking a dozen or so links that led to other links, and so on... led me to this Very Important Tip: when planning a color palette, one should use the formula of 60/30/10.  Your main color should occupy 60% of the surfaces or space in the room.  Another main color - or perhaps a neutral? - should dominate 30%, and the remaining 10% is your accent color.

This is huge for me, as I am struggling with what to do with my master bedroom that is currently painted a lovely grapey purple.  Don't look at that table!  What do you think, does having Jay-Z on my bedside table make me hip?

We painted it that color four years ago when we moved in, and now I can't walk by a decorating magazine without seeing a big, crazy cover photo or a huge spread inside that proclaims the perfection of purple.  I'm so way ahead of my time that way.  HOOOOOWEVER.  When the walls (and it's a big room - there's lots of wallspace) are covered with a medium-toned grape color, what the hell do you do to balance it?  I mean, that's a shitload of Barney, which is not conducive to romance and relaxation.  My original plan was to go black and white on the linens... and of course that's all trendy now too. Or it was a year ago, actually.  But it's seeming like it might be a bit too stark for my taste.  I am a collector of stuff, and love a good thrift store, and my stuff is generally more colorful than black and white.

I do have some amazing lampshades that have a black design on the inside (and the real thing looks a good bit better than my rendition above).  When the light is turned on the black shows through the shade.  There's one on each side of the bed, all matchey-matchey cuz the hubster likes it that way.  Thank god my boobs are symmetrical.  The shades sit on top of two practically edible white milkglass lamp bases handed down to me from my great-grandmother.  (pics will follow!)  I also have a white chenille bedspread that I'm not in love with, "temporary" white linen curtains that are actually table cloths I got on the clearance aisle at Walmart three years ago, and white crown molding around the room.  Where to go from there??

What about my 30% color being a kind of dusky sea blue... like the blue on this image of the Tom's Shoes label?

Or this barn, but greener (the brown horse could represent my bedside tables):

I have some fabric to cover an as yet un-located headboard, and would also come up with some pillows and maybe the curtains should be white but with a design or stripe in a shade of the blue?

Then what to do for the 10%? What about this??

I'm kind of loving it. That chair is allegedly from Target?? What the WHAT????  It needs to be in my bedroom right now!!!  So, that's a combination of colors I don't think I've seen before.  Sure, turquoise and yellow, purple and yellow, but not all three together, right?  Oh, and I might even be willing to sacrifice my ceiling fan if I could get this little piece of bedroom jewelry:

I'm typing cross-legged to keep from peeing my pants.  It's that cute. *sigh*  

What say you??  

Friday, July 23, 2010

what the hell!?

How on earth is it the end of July?? I had so many things on my list to do this year, and I've gotten so few done. Ugh.

I have to say, though, that I have been busy doing Important Things. For example - this week I've been learning how to be a Grandma. Actually, I don't think I can be a Grandma... it's got to be something like Nanny, or Nonny, or Gammy... Grandma just sounds like I should be at least 60 years old. Which I am not.
This is a great way to waste my time...

And last week, I even got a project done! I replaced a toilet in our guest bathroom. The old one was at least 45 years old, and rocked and banged against the wall every time someone sat down on it. It got to the point that it was running constantly, and we were turning the water off and on behind it as necessary whenever we used it... but since I was hosting about 17 people at my home for a baby shower last Saturday, it was time for it to get done.

Of course, as is typical for me, my project could not just consist of making a list of things I need, putting aside the time, and getting it done. That would be too EASY. And my character has not been honed on having things come easily to me.

So, here are my best instructions on how to install a new toilet:

  • Spend a lunch break at Lowe's picking out toilets.
  • Ask hubby to pick up toilets on his way home.
  • Have friend's plumber hubby come over to cut the corroded bolts on old toilet that won't be budged by your lame household tools.
  • Find out friend's plumber hubby thinks you bought the wrong size toilets. 
  • Call hubby to keep him from picking up wrong toilets.
  • Freak out, because the schedule for getting the toilets in was being delayed by a day.
  • Take off work early the next day to go to another place to pick out another toilet. 
  • Get frustrated with the hubby who doesn't know how to help.
  • Spend 30 minutes scraping off a NASTY wax ring, discover the iron flange coming out of the floor is broken on one side, making it impossible to bolt the toilet to the floor securely.
  • Set new toilet in place to verify size and find out it's THE WRONG SIZE, which means the ones you  bought the day before were actually correct.
  • Drive like a bat out of hell to Lowe's and pick up one of the toilets you bought the day before, and find something that might help me fix the broken flange issue.
  • Cry over an open toilet drain when the flange doesn't seem fixable.
  • Suck it up and figure something out... offer up thanks to a life that has taught you to live like Tim Gunn and Make It Work.
  • Cram that wax ring on the bottom of the new toilet and set it in place, tighten the bolts, connect the water line, and flush!

It took me four hours - including the extra trip to Lowe's to get the first toilet I purchased that I was told was the wrong size - to finish that damn toilet installation. It should have taken an hour. That's what I get for having an old house I guess. Won't comment on the plumber who can't read a measuring tape because he's a friend and he could probably beat me up.

So the morning of the shower I spent another four hours getting all the decorating and cleaning done, meaning I was exhausted by the time it started. I had planned to spend a couple of hours the night before doing some of the prep work - instead of the four hour toilet installation. Ugh, again.

At least it's done. Now, I just need to repaint the bathroom cabinets and save up for tearing out all the 45 year old tile...

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I've been working hard to come out on top of a personal struggle recently.  It's not the reason why I haven't posted in over a month (I have no excuse for that, actually) but it's something I've been dealing with, nonetheless.

Probably a lot of people would not see what I've been dealing with as a serious problem... it's not like I'm trying to quit smoking, or lower my blood pressure, or reduce my blood sugar numbers for health reasons. But I know that you will understand.

I'm Laurie, and I'm a Project Collector. I'm trying to stop pulling into strangers' driveways to check out a huge pile of stuff at their curb. Odds are there really isn't anything in that pile that I could make into anything useful, right?  I'm trying to stop buying furniture at yard sales just because it's cheap and has Potential. I know, potential is a very relative term, in both projects and men. Hehehe...

But one day recently I was weak. I looked at the furniture category on Craig's List, and found these, and had to have them! I spent $30 for both, which may have been a tad high, but they have it. They have Potential!

See, I've been looking for new bedside tables for my bedroom, and although I thought I would find two that are not a pair (I don't care for matchey-matchey), these little darlings have convinced me otherwise.

They are definitely "projects". They are going to eventually be painted a glossy black with silver accents, but first they need some serious TLC. The woman I bought them from had a whole bedroom suite that went with them, and when I was taking them out to my van she said "So you like old furniture?" Immediately, it was clear that, to her, these are only "Old" not "Vintage", "Antique" or even "Classic". So sad...  and they haven't been cared for very well. Let me present the evidence:

Water rings (have they never heard of COASTERS??), bad patches of split trim, and just bad repairs in general. They are definitely more of a project than I'd hoped for, but they will be so gorgeous when they're done! I'll update you as I go along.

Anything will be better than what I have now... good grief. I wonder if it will be a good or bad thing that the new table won't hold as much crap?? I'm guessing good.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Life Creative

Some people are happy with a life that includes a little bit of time spent cutting colored paper and pasting photos in a book, or the odd evening during the month when the crosstitch project is pulled out and a new pattern is begun or finished. These are nice hobbies. They are relaxing and potentially heirloom-producing, which is all good. But for me, the need to be creative - to live a creative life - is not something I can happily pursue a couple of times a month.

Now, I am perfectly aware that anyone who might have spent a short lifetime as a fly on my wall recently would accuse me of being a big fat liar. They would tell you that I have not been in my sewing room since Christmas. A quarter of this new year is almost over and I have not made one thing with my hands. No thread spun onto a bobbin, no fabric cut, no notions sorted through. Nothing. I have no excuse, really. At least, none that I can articulate either orally or digitally. (is typing a digital thing since I'm using my digits?)

But once again I've spent time away from the routine of my home life and found that I am energized and enthused and excited about the idea of being more creative on a more regular basis. The last time I spent time away, it was at some training I had to take in Oklahoma City. Not a particularly inspiring city, but the time alone allowed me to consider my goals for writing. Most importantly, it allowed me to read uninterrupted, therefore encouraging reflection upon what I was reading - something I don't often have time for. I made commitments to myself during that trip to write more often, carry a notebook with me to record writing ideas in, in general, just behave more like what I think a writer should behave like. I've made some inroads there, and am fairly happy with my progress.

This time around, I'm in Salida, Colorado. It goes without saying that the scenery is breathtaking. I truly feel like a better me here. I want so badly to live in Colorado that I envy everyone I meet. It's probably not healthy for my psyche, but I do it anyway. Even hearing the woman who runs the hostel where I'm staying tell me that she has three jobs to pay the bills doesn't deter my lust for the mountains; "Yes..." I think, "but you get to wake up in Colorado every single day!" My intoxication with this place is just that thick. And possibly certifiable.

But back to my desire to live creatively... I wandered through a few galleries today with my daughters, taking in the wonderful things that other people are making and (I assume) selling. Pottery, painting, jewelry, glass, metal, mixed media works... it's all here, and it all sticks in my brain like little shards of something precious and stays with me, sending little sharp stings into my consciousness that says "You have ideas like these. Why aren't you doing anything about them?" Why, indeed. So many reasons. So many distractions and excuses. (I know, I said I couldn't articulate them, but I changed my mind) Time. Job. Family responsibilities. Laziness. Fear. Things that the people who make the things I look at in galleries either ignore or work through. Or they haven't filled their lives with the things I have that get in the way. Or maybe they've spent time dealing with all of those distractions and now they are living their "second life" creating. So perhaps I need to be patient?

But one thing I did realize today while making notes in my writing book has buoyed my artistic spirit quite a bit. I was writing about wanting to de-clutter my life of stuff, and thought about my clothes closet. There are a lot of things hanging there right now that are not often worn, so I started to consider what kind of clothes I really want to wear, as opposed to what I own. What I want to wear is more natural fibers, original designs, vintage pieces, and - for lack of a better term - more "artistic" things.

I have felt for quite a while that I'm limited in the amount of creative freedom I could infuse in my wardrobe due to my career. I had been working toward a position as a fundraising professional, and since that would require meeting with people who, at times, are older than I and of a level of society that would perhaps prefer to meet with a person wearing a suit, or at least pumps and a nice jacket, wearing a linen tunic and embroidered Mary Janes might not work well. But my job has recently taken a turn that has changed my responsibilities somewhat. I am still in the same job, but am no longer the one who will be meeting with those people. I will instead be doing more grant-writing, work with corporate sponsors, and plan some events.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that I can't totally remake my wardrobe - and more than that, the image I portray every day. It sounds ridiculous, but somehow it feels liberating to think about this. I am trying so hard to make my life the life I want to live, and this is one more step toward being the person I want to be every day - not just when I'm manning my booth at the Farmer's Market, or when I'm shopping for fabric on the weekends. It makes no sense to have costumes for different roles I play - I am the same person inside, and should be that person 24/7.

If I can't live in Colorado yet, at least I will be that person who dreams of Colorado every single day... and someday, maybe that line will be marked off on my to-do list as well. One more step...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

So there WERE larger women back then!

I love the look of vintage dresses. The lines that are (at times) more flattering to a woman's body. Unfortunately, though, it's hard to find vintage clothing in good repair in my size. I wear a size 16, and it's apparent when browsing a vintage shop that there weren't many women in the 50's and 60's wearing my size. At least, if they were, they weren't wearing fashionable clothes.

So imagine my delight when I found a couple of piles of vintage patterns at Goodwill recently all in sizes 16-20 There were six or seven patterns in each batch and they were only $.99 per batch!! I can't wait to make a few of these to add to my spring wardrobe. (especially the white sleeveless wrap above - so cute alone or over jeans!) I hope most of the pieces are included, and of course I may have to check actual sizing since it's possible a 16 in 1964 was not the same as a 16 today... but it's a good start anyway.

If any of you work with vintage patterns much, do you have any advice to offer? Or good resources on altering vintage patterns to size?

I'll post more on these projects as I get fabrics chosen and start the work. How perfect is this Vogue dress with the square neckline? LOVE it!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Patterns, and Fabric and Projects, oh my!

A few weeks ago my sister and I spent some girl-time at a fantastic shop a few minutes north called The Rabbit's Lair. It's heaven on earth for anyone with a fabric addiction. They sell bolts and bolts and fat quarters and skinny eighths and all manner of patterns and what nots... it's just divine.

Most days I'm all about vintage fabrics rescued from obscurity in the thrift store shelves or auction tables, but I have to admit that I was all gaga over the stuff in the shop. I have a new project to work on this spring and picked up some things to use. A local children's boutique called Terra Tots has asked me to bring in a few examples of tunics I have in mind to make, so I thought the bright fabrics I picked up there would be perfect. The idea is to make them reversible, and they would be great over jeans or leggings with pretty much any kind of shirt underneath.

I've been keeping an eye out for a pattern for a tunic that will give me a jumping off point for what I want to do, and found these. The one on the left is what I had seen in my head - with the ties on the sides. But I also just LOVE the little blouse in that middle one. How adorable would that be made out of vintage bedsheets? Now I need to learn how to alter patterns... I smell a new sewing book (or three) on my horizon.

Here are my thoughts on the pieces to put together... and a couple I bought just because I love them.Disregard the tiny wrinkles... if you want to see ironed fabric, go here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh how I love a good thrift day.

My sister and I spent a great day recently hitting up some flea market/thrift stores and found some amazing goodies. Last Sunday, we spent a lot less time at Goodwill, but still came away with some cuteness. Just thought I'd share.

A sweet little decorative plate... and I love Colorado.

And a dinner-sized one from Georgia. Georgia is way too hot in the summer.
(Cue flashback to time spent at Fort Gordon in July)

Two little berry bowls. So darling!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Preserving a Husband

One of the things I brought home from my mom's house was an accordion file full of recipe cards and clippings from magazines. I went through them tonight with plans to make a few (or more than a few) and also to create a cookbook out of them to give to family members.

The file apparently belonged to my grandmother, since most of the handwritten cards were in her handwriting. But there were a few that were either written by others, or had "from ______" on them. My aunts, my mom, our great aunts, great grandmother, cousins and great cousins and people we called our cousins just because several generations ago someone in their family married someone in ours... neighbors and friends. It's really a great little treasure.

But I had to share this recipe that was in the "Miscellaneous" section. I believe it came out of a magazine published by the local electrical co-op. I think you'll enjoy it.

Preserving a Husband
Be careful of your selection.  Do not choose too young.  When once selected, give your entire thought to preparation for domestic use.  Some insist on keeping them in a pickle, others are constantly getting them in hot water.  This makes them sour, hard, and sometimes bitter.  Even poor varieties may be made sweet, tender and good by garnishing them with patience, well-sweetened with love, and seasoned with kisses.  Wrap them in a mantle of charity.  Keep them warm with a steady fire of domestic decoration and serve with peaches and cream.  Thus prepared, they will keep for years.

I love the "poor varieties" comment... I've known a few of those.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


My sister and I spent about five hours at my mom's house this afternoon going through her office. Last week we spent about seven hours, and got all the bedrooms, her bathroom and the living room done. Comparitively, it seems like we didn't accomplish as much today, but given the volume of stuff packed into her office, we actually did.

Going through mom's stuff is really making me look around at my own things with a more critical eye. I have a lot of things - things I like to look at, that mean something to me, or both. And I have those books, lists, magazine pages... little stashes of things that I want to do something with... or that I think will have some purpose at some point. But as I clean mom's house, I'm finding it easier to clean my own. I've loaded several bags of stuff in my car to get rid of over the last week, just because I don't know why I have it. I really want to have things in my house that I'll use, or that means something very special to me. Now, there are things I have because they just make me happy to have them, but I'm finding it way easier to get rid of those things lately.I can have things that make me happy, AND that I'll use. It's just a new way of looking at stuff.

At mom's there were shelves full of books, magazine boxes full of magazines, files of important stuff and non-important stuff and way too many office supplies! We filled a couple of boxes with stuff to keep, made a pile of stuff for our brothers to decide on, filled a couple of bags full of trash and a box full of stuff to shred, and the stuff we're going to sell was left on the bookshelves. Not bad, really. There are a few boxes of things that we'll have to go through slowly with a bottle or two of wine, but that will be left for another day.

Some cool finds:
a great little envelope full of pictures of mom during the time she was a Tupperware Lady, most of which I'd never seen before;
five or six diaries and journals belonging to mom;
notes and letters we'd given mom over the years that she kept;
several lists of mom's belongings that she assigned beneficiaries to... most of which we agree with. :)

We also found a certificate that mom got from her flight school when she made her first solo flight on July 11, 1990. We decided that we should get our brothers to join us on July 11 this year, the 20th anniversary of that flight, to take her ashes up in a plane to... what? Distribute? Sprinkle? Dump? What do you call it??? Wouldn't that be perfect? We think so.

We kept finding piles of newspaper articles on gardening, magazine pages with photos that mom had written notes next to.. "these stairs"... "cabinet doors"... "fireplace mantle".  Mom loved visual inspiration, and I've inherited her tendency to keep those bits and pieces. She also had a few little notebooks with sketches and notes in them that detailed ideas she had probably seen in a magazine, or on a t.v. show... or maybe they were just her own ideas. Oh, and books with little sticky notes on her favorite pages. Yes, it's genetic, I'm sure of it. So, I loaded up a couple of tote bags with her decorating books, and one of her file folders labeled "Craft Projects". I figured I would go through them before putting them on the estate sale shelves... a little more visual inspiration is always welcome.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Warm Thoughts and Inventory

Okay, I had the great idea of posting this pic of my homemade bunting made for a craft fair last fall, in hopes of sharing warm fuzzy thoughts when it's about 4 degrees outside. Then, I remembered that at said craft fair my sister and I were freezing our booties off every morning because it was around 35 degrees. It was NOT, however, 4 degrees. So, comparatively, it was WARM.

I'm enjoying a little break this month from the constant pressure of making sure I have inventory ready for the next craft show/market/promotion on Etsy... it's allowing me some thinking time to consider how better to brand myself this coming year, and what items I need to focus on making. One of my frustrations with myself is that I have 847 different ideas flying around in my head on any given day. But of course I don't have the time to spend on 847 different ideas. Knowing I don't have the time frustrates me and makes it hard to focus, and then I don't know where to start. So, I have to narrow it down a little.

The branding thing is difficult for me. I'm far too fickle when it comes to my shop's banner designs. And my color favorites change with the seasons. But I am going to get a stamp made based on a screenprinted business card my brother made for me last year. I'll use it with some washable ink to label my items, and scan it into the computer to use on my banner. If the name/font stays consistent, maybe a quarterly color and image tweak will not be a big deal.

I think my 2010 shop inventory will look like this:
Market bags - made from repurposed vintage bed and table linens.
Tote bags - sturdier fabrics like curtains and upholstery remnants, with appliques and other decoration.
Hip bags - for the fall and winter only, made with repurposed sweaters.
Aprons - hobby aprons made from canvas and vintage decorator fabrics with appliques and pockets

I'm cutting out the drink coasters because there are nicer ones on Etsy and they're a pain to make. I may make some lapel pins up and list them to see if they get noticed... they sell well at the fairs, but haven't tried them on Etsy. I'm also going to make some repurposed t-shirt scarves and kids' tunics, but am going to sell them in local boutiques. I made my neice some cute-as-a-button hats for her American Girl dolls out of scrap wool from my repurposed sweaters... but see, that's another project.

Now I'm just rambling...
What are you going to work on this year? Are you focusing on any new items for your shops, or just reworking what you've got?