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Pinterest…Success! with a few Hiccups

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table before

In the beginning…lots of brown…

So my weekend project turned into a week. Not because it was difficult, I just added to it…and had a little bit of a learning experience as well. My original plan did not include the four ladder-back chairs. I was going to purchase long, canvas slip covers  instead of painting; however, after a day of de-furring my living room furniture, I decided against it. I’ve had cats my entire life, but these two shed more than any. It’s crazy and the last thing I need is something else to vacuum.

As I mentioned in my post Creative Blah, I did quite a bit of  reading of how-to’s and what to use when entering into a chalk paint project. I’m forever searching for the most efficient (easy) and most economical (cheap) ways to do things. In my research, I discovered the Rustoleum brand of chalk paint received very good reviews; some people even preferring it over the expensive boutique brand, Annie Sloan. Also, Rustoleum has a chalk top coat in clear that comes in a SPRAY CAN! No wax needed!!! I was excited – less expensive paint, no prep or sanding and no waxing. I would be done in a snap.

Day 1, First hiccup. I left work on Friday and headed to Home Depot to make my purchase. After scouring the shelves, I only found two colors of the Rustoleum chalk paint: off white and light gray. Boring. I asked the paint clerk about this. “Yes,” she said, “that is all we carry in the store.” Half the fun of chalk paint are the great colors. Slightly disgruntled, I bought the Rustoleum top coat in the spray can, my paint brush, rags and plastic drop cloth and begrudgingly headed to the boutique shop to invest in the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

chalk paint

Two quarts (Provence and Old White) and $84 dollars later, I was home and ready to set-up. My living and dining room is one quaint area; I cleared everything from around the table and spread the plastic drop cloth under the table and chairs, not easy to do by oneself, and gave the table a good wipe-down. I painted the base of the table first in Provence (turquoise). Two coats. I liked it and almost stopped here, but I moved forward. Old White (off-white) would go on the top.

table base

Day 2. My table opens to a large round so it was a little tricky getting everything covered that shows when folded down to a square. I also found chalk paint dries quickly, so work fast. This also took two coats.

Hiccup Two. While the top dried, I decided to remove the seats from the chairs. First one, no problem; chairs two, three and four however, did not want to part with their seats. The screws were stripped. I struggled for over an hour before I finally had them all off.

Hiccup Three. Returning to the table, I reviewed my work. Chalk paint has a dull, matte finish – chalkie if you will. My table looked flat. Something was needed. Yep, I decided to go with the distressed look. Again, not in my original plan and this also meant I would have to sand after all. I worked the base first and then attacked the top. Dust was everywhere. A plastic drop cloth does little to prevent this and two cats tracking through it does not help. It is also not good to inhale when you suffer from allergies.

Hiccup Four. This is big… please learn from this. After thoroughly removing all the dust from the table, I was ready to use the handy spray can CLEAR chalk top coat. I sprayed the Provence base first. It was a little tricky. There were some drips but all in all, it was fine and FAST! Now for the table top. As directed, I did a sweeping motion across the Old White painted top. Finished, I stepped back to check out my work. It was not good. There were splotches and a YELLOW tinge to my Old White top. “Oh no, no,” I mumbled to myself. I waited. It dried the exact same way. Oh the frustration. I was going to have to go back and buy the expensive wax top coat. I was not happy. A third coat of Old White was applied and another round of distressing and dust clean up ensued. I took a nap and drank wine the rest of the evening.

table top botch

Noooo!!

Sunday, Day 3. The chairs. With a lot of Provence left, I decided two chairs would be in Provence and the other two in Old White. Ladder back chairs are not easy to paint. I did two.

Monday, I wanted nothing to do with a paintbrush or sanding.

Tuesday, Day 4. Hiccup Five. I came down stairs to little kitty cat paw prints in blue on my floor. All I can say is I’m thankful for soap and water cleanup. I painted the last two chairs and distressed all four… more dust cleanup.

Wednesday, Day 5. I purchased the wax top coat, which resembles a small can of Crisco and about the same consistency but with an obnoxious chemical smell. You need a ton of lint-free rags for this process. You literally wax on, wax off, small sections at a time. It’s tiring and a bit tedious. One coat was applied to the table.

Thursday and Friday. Nope, not touching that stuff.

Saturday, Day 6. Head pounding from a sinus infection, a second coat of wax was applied to the top of the table for extra protection and wax applied to the chairs. The wax deepens the color a bit and if buffed, adds a slight sheen to your finish.

Sunday, Day 7. The wax was dry, the seats were put back in their proper place on the chairs (I may recover at some point…) and the mess I’d been living in for a week was cleaned up. My head was still killing me, but I was actually quite pleased with my table and chairs. That side of the room, with no windows, now looks a little more cheerful, not brown on brown and I can say, “I did that.” That is a good feeling.

I still have Provence and Old White left and I don’t intend on letting that expensive stuff dry up, so I’m sure something else will be painted soon.  I am calling this a Pinterest Success!

table finsih1

table finish2

 

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Bucket List Trip

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bucketlist

As we await the outcome of my chalk paint project, thought I would catch you guys up on my summer.  I took a bucket list trip.  I had not intended on doing anything like that this year.  My friend and I were just going to take a short, non-extravagant trip to get away.  Well, a couple of bottles of wine later on a cold February evening, we ended up planning a trip to Greece. And not just any trip, we were going to board a tall sailing ship and sail around the Greek Islands.  And that’s just what we did.

A little history.  Several years ago, I began perusing the internet for group travel; specifically, travel designed for solo or single travelers.  Came across one that intrigued me but was more than I was willing to spend at the time.  Ever since, I’ve stalked this site.  Three or four glasses of wine into the conversation, I brought up this site and mentioned this little Greece trip they had listed and things went from there…

So, yes, we went with a group of 32 single travelers to Greece. Our trip began in Athens and we sailed to Rhodes, Bodrum-Turkey, Daylan River-Turkey, Santorini, and Hydra.  Check out some of my pictures under Adventure Pics on the top menu. It was exhilarating, exhausting, exciting and everything in between.  If you every have the opportunity to go on a trip with a group of strangers, Do It!  You meet some wonderfully interesting people.  For me, that’s half the fun.

A few interesting things from my trip (FB friends – old stuff for you!):

  1. Bright orange “singles” sign at the airport is a source of laughter for Greek teenagers.
  2. I got pooped on by a pigeon in Athens.
  3. Greek tour guides like to share copious amounts of details. Info overload ..
  4. The scale of some of these monuments i.e. Parthenon, Temple of Zeus, are unbelievable.
  5. I shed a few tears when the sails went up on our first night .. could have been the champagne…
  6. Of the 70ish crew members there were 10 nationalities represented. Of the 178 passengers, there were 10.
  7. You most definitely feel a tall sailing ship moving and rocking. If you get motion sickness – not for you.
  8. Amazing how you can misplace things in a tiny cabin…
  9. Amazing that it can be ridiculously hard to find your cabin on a small ship.. again, could have been the champagne… and ouzo.
  10. I heard more disco music in 10 days than I’ve heard in 10 years.
  11. “Entrees” on our menu were starters. “Les Plats” were the main course. Yep, a French themed menu on a Greek cruise…
  12. “Sea Episodes” on land are real.
  13. New York cabbies got nothin’ on Turkish cabbies 😳
  14. The Swedish family on board most definitely looked, well… Swedish.
  15. Our nurse on the ship was also a waiter … lots of multitasking.
  16. Apostle Paul visited Rhodes.
  17. Watch the swinging doors on a sailing ship… they can be deadly.
  18. Santorini was inhabited before 2000 BC.
  19. You most definitely do not want to get stuck in a dungeon in a castle.
  20. We had a waiter named Titot.
  21. I rode a camel in Turkey named Arab.
  22. Portholes in swimming pools can entertain adults for at least an hour.
  23. A sulfur warm water bath followed with mud does make your skin feel great, if not stinky.
  24. Grilled octopus is yummy.
  25. Group travel is truly amazing.

Long Time Coming

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I have not looked at my blog in almost a year. I’ve thought off and on about it, but words just weren’t coming to me anymore.  So why now?  A few weeks ago, I received an unexpected email.  The subject line: Angel Gowns. It took me a minute, but when I opened it, I was so surprised and happy; I became a bit emotional.  It was from the seamstress I had mailed my wedding dress to over a year ago.  My gown was sent to her for the purpose of making Angel Gowns, gowns for still-born babies or babies that never make it home. It was an idea prompted by a friend who had lost a baby at birth. Sending that gown off was a very emotional process. My post,  The Gown, will shed more light on that.  Donna, the seamstress, said it would take several months for her to make the gowns, but she would send pictures when they were complete.  I waited all summer and fall. The pictures never came. To say the least, I was disappointed.  I came to the conclusion I would not see any pictures and not know what truly became of my gown. Life got busy and I stopped thinking about it.

When I read her email and saw the pictures, I remembered how much I had looked forward to sharing the pictures with everyone. It’s been a long time coming and I’m a little rusty, but here I am, back to my blog.

Below is the email and some of the Angel Gowns.

email

angel gown1       angel gown3                                       angel gown2       angel gown4

 

 

 

 

15 years

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The other day, the little house I bought when I was a single 29-year-old popped into my mind. It wasn’t anything extravagant;  a little 3-bedroom ranch, in an ok part of town. But it was mine. Where it was didn’t  seem too important. I never expected to be in it all that long. “The long drive to work will be ok,” I thought to myself,  “I don’t need to go out so much anyway. I will  be fine for a few years.” Just seemed like the thing to do.  I ended up being there for 15 years.

A lot happened during those 15 years in that little house; tons of miles on my car, new job, lots of dates, marriage, baby showers for friends, weddings. There were Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, going away parties, new friendships, and then separation, divorce and losing my dad … Yes .. A lot happened. Made me think about my recent townhouse purchase. This time, if I stay for 15 years, I will be 63.  63 … I have repeated that number in my head now for a few days. Does not sound possible.

Those 15 years in my little house felt so short, yet a lifetime seemed to happen there. Staying here in my townhouse isn’t mandatory, but if I do, what will these walls witness?  Will I be happy here? Things are so very different now.  Twelve years ago, a life with someone and having a family was a possibility; that, or at least part of that, has slipped away.  What else and who else will slip away? Who might enter my life?  Will the years fly by so quickly again?  Will I spend them alone? These are things I never put much thought into in the past, but time has become more insistent; it’s telling me it waits for no one or anything.

I have no real plan on how to proceed with my future.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.  Plans can go terribly wrong and leave you disappointed or worse yet, heartbroken.  No plan, and I may drift aimlessly about or become a hermit and binge watch Netflix.  Neither sounds appealing. So for now, I’m going to plan to at least not let either happen.  I may need some company on this journey so please leave any comments or thoughts you have on dealing with the inevitable process of aging.

***Note – this little 63 moment I had freaked me out so much, I spent an hour in a half on the phone with a financial advisor. I must at least have a plan to support my cats ….

Don’t woo me with words and leave me hanging

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actions

Today’s dating world is miles apart from the dating days of my youth. And I say that with a smirk.  I never dated until I was in college. Maybe I missed out on the basics 101 of dating?  Still though, it was a time before cell phones, Facebook, texting and online dating.  People met through friends, at school or out somewhere; a conversation ensued and numbers were exchanged.  A date was arranged and the guy would pick up the girl and out they would go for drinks or dinner or a movie.  Time was spent together along with long chats on the phone. Oh how things have changed.  Now, your fate depends on a left or right swipe and a short paragraph that’s supposed to grab someone’s attention. Introductions are made through text or emails. To think about how many texts I’ve received over the past five years is mind boggling.  Conversations have been diminished  to short little texts with an emoji that’s supposed to express the mood of the words… which aren’t even words anymore… BFF, BRB, LOL, WRUD…. And sexting. Really???  I’ve never felt less sexy.  And for someone to push that in my face when they don’t even know me, well… it’s a bit degrading.  How are you supposed to get to know someone that way?  You can’t.  Relationships aren’t built on emojis and dirty one-liners from pornos. Does anyone have basic conversation skills anymore?  Men and women have enough communication problems without this mess.

I could fill pages ranting on texting in the dating arena and dating in general. I admit, I rely heavily on texting concerning my friends.  But in dating, no.. It should not be the main mode of communication when trying to get to know someone. When that becomes the case,  I’ve learned to pay attention to actions. “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s a saying we’ve all heard but pay little attention.  Words are easy.  Made even easier by the impersonal text, which is also very one-dimensional.  With text, you have no references: was there a joking smile with a comment or a wink of an eye?  Was their tone of voice serious?  Did the person look away or make eye contact?  There’s no touch of a hand for reassurance.  It’s not a good vehicle to share and express emotions and feelings. We read into them what we want.   I was seeing someone who knew exactly what to say to me.  He flattered me with  sweet little texts every morning and throughout the day and I fell for it.   Who doesn’t want to hear they are beautiful?  Isn’t it wonderful to read that someone’s thinking of you and wants to see you?  It was short-lived bliss.  When confronted with the question  “when will I see you?” and all he had were excuses, the gig was up.  The sweet sentiment of his words were lost on his actions.

Begging someone to be apart of our lives shouldn’t be a part of the dating equation.  If it is, then it’s not meant to be.  We shouldn’t be left wondering what that I ♥ U!! truly means or if  WRUD really means they are interested and want to see us.  Our actions reveal our true intentions.  If feelings are mutual, finding time to talk and be together is something you just do. It’s really that simple.

 

 

 

Finding Passion Again

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beading stuff

To say I used to be into beading and jewelry making is a slight understatement. I was slightly obsessed with it.  That was before I got married, about 15 or so years ago. The collection of beading supplies accumulated during those couple of years and I delighted in making pieces for friends and family. But life changes; the ex took over the craft room playing online racing games with his friends.  Not a conducive atmosphere for creativity.  Things got packed away.

I’ve not thought too much about that stuff in a long time, but it has survived the past two cuts of purging. The thought of donating it would flit through my brain – briefly, but ultimately, it would just get packed away  again and forgotten.  Until…  I was out shopping with a friend last week and saw a few pieces of crocheted beaded jewelry I really liked.  Then I looked at the price.   Ouch.  Thrifty has become a state-of-mind for me. If I think it’s something I can do myself, I won’t buy it. I started thinking about my beading hoard in the storage closet.  It haunted me for a week.  Yesterday, I took a trip to Michael’s , bought myself a crochet needle and cord and  decided to teach myself some simple crocheting (which is not so simple…).  Last night, after years of being packed away, the storage container came out and my eyes feasted on all of my beading treasures.

I spent an hour sifting through all of the trinkets: different beads and stones, wire, threading material, findings, pliers, snips etc. Thoughts of how I poured myself into a piece I was making crossed my mind.  Hours were spent at the craft store searching for the perfect beads or stones.  Once home, I would spend another few hours arranging and rearranging the beads and stones on my bead board until I found a pattern that felt right.  Then the stringing and wire process would begin.  I would be lost in concentration not thinking or worrying about anything else.  And at the end, with a stiff neck and sore fingers,  I would take a deep breath and smile at the completed piece of jewelry.

To be honest, I’ve felt a bit restless, unfocused, uninspired and unfulfilled for the last several years, except when I was traveling and that’s not an option at the moment.   My little crate seating patio project was the first glint of creativity and feeling good I’ve had in a long time.  It was a bit like finishing a piece of jewelry.  Taking an idea and seeing it through and having something done by my own hands.  So why have I waited so long to bring out the trinkets stashed away in the closet?  Why do we give up on things we know make us happy, yet spend so much energy on things that only bring us misery?

crochetRight now, I have too much time to think about things; Netflix and I are getting way too close and the dating scene does not seem to agree with me. On top of that, I’ve promised myself to keep a better tab on my spending. I really want that beaded crocheted-wrap bracelet in the store, but I’m going to make it.  This crochet thing may be a little tricky, but that’s ok.  I have plenty of time to myself to work on that skill.  And what better way to indulge myself than to reignite an old love and find some passion in it again.

Who’s That in the Mirror?

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Mature-Woman-Mirror1“You look good for your age.” I can’t decide if that’s a compliment or not?   Growing up and through my twenties and thirties, I always looked a little younger.   That appears to be diminishing.  Now, I look in the mirror and its seems as though I’ve aged 5 years in the past 2.  I actually pulled up a picture of myself from 2013 and compared it to a current picture.   Ugh, have the past 2 ½ years really been that stressful or has the stress from the last 6 years finally caught up with me?

My nighttime ritual of washing my face and brushing my teeth now includes a study in the mirror; pulling my skin back and up with my hands to see my former self.   Things are becoming a little more prevalent now:  the sag in the jaw line (jowls… sounds so sexy), deepening smile lines and multiplying wrinkles at the corners of my eyes, not to mention the circles under my eyes, which I’ve always battled.  My forehead is carved with lines and is inching down my face, hooding my eyes and making them look tired.  The gray hair is coming in thicker and wire-y; lovely when they stick straight up in my part.  Unfortunately, these things I expected and since I have no plans to have plastic surgery or use Botox, it’s going to happen.  I’m not thrilled about it, but as they say, the lines we develop show that we’ve lived life.  What I’m not prepared for are the other changes going on.

Last week, I started taking a class at a place call The Bar Method. Its exercise at a ballet bar:  lots of isometric holds, push ups and crunches and is actually quite hard.  A few other ladies my age have braved the class, but it’s mostly slender, young twenty-something-year olds.  I feel really short in class.  With floor-length mirrors on two walls, it’s not hard to notice EVERYTHING.  As we hold our arms up, I notice the swag of flesh waving underneath.  Standing next to a rather tall young lady, I see my hips and thighs bulging against my black yoga leggings; I try to pull my top down a little more.  As we do crunches, the wrinkles on my neck and chest scream at me; the sun spots and uneven skin tone accentuated even more by the lights.  All those years of sunbathing are finally showing their true face. All of this has caught me a little off guard.  The gym has been a part of my life since the early ‘90’s and I have stayed in relatively good shape.  Sure, there were some times I got slack and put some pounds on (in my brief marriage of 3 ½ years, I packed on 20 pounds).  But for the most part, all’s been good.  In those days, if I put on a few, it wasn’t extremely hard to drop them.  Now, the pounds cling to me despite how much I fight it.  Things are sagging and wagging.

Yes, I know I should not compare myself to others, especially to much younger women and I’m not striving to look like a twenty-something year old. In fact, most who do so end up looking very odd and plastic-y.  I have definitely earned my wrinkles. I don’t, however, want my body to get old before it’s time.  I want to be out doing things and in my head and heart, I’m no older than… let’s say, 30.  Because of that, I tend to forget that I’m entering the high-maintenance phase of my life.  It’s as if my body is yelling, “HEY LADY, you’re not 25 anymore!!  You can’t take a month off from the gym, eat pizza every Friday night and drink beer every weekend and expect things to stay in place.”   I am now well aware of this.

I’m trying to fight back. I’ve signed up for the Bar Method class for 6 weeks and I’ve promised myself to get in some walking too.  I toyed with trying to get back into running…. But NO.   That is one thing I don’t want to put the body through again.  I can do this with that stress.  Motivation is my weak point, or I should say, staying motivated.. and my love of eating.  I have to look at this like a project – a DIY project of sorts – to restore this 48-year-old body and feel good in it again.

Aside

Yes, I have come to that time in life when friends are turning a half century old. I’m trying not to give them too hard of a time. I will be there soon.

Here’s a little something I did for a friend and his big 5-0…

Turning 50

I came upon a good friend who appeared in distress.
I pondered a moment, slightly worried, I confess.
This is not very like this good friend of mine;
He’s usually quite happy and not one to whine.

I asked “What’s the matter?
You’re thoughts seem quite scattered.”
Today is my birthday,” he replied with a sigh.
“I turn 50 today; A half a century has flown by.”

He seemed quite in despair.
He rattled on, “I’m losing my hair;
My bones crack and pop and my energy, well, it’s lacking.
I just want to send this growing old thing packing.”

I smiled and nodded, “I understand you completely,
But don’t look at age quite so bleakly.
You have two lovely children and a beautiful wife.
Quite frankly, you’ve had quite a wonder life.”

“I’m excited to see what the next years bring you.
Travels, celebrations, grandchildren maybe? Just a few?
Age is a number that lives in our heads,
The rumors and myths of it, we should just put to bed.”

“Still though, I am younger;
And very delighted to be.
I’m happy you are 50,
And that it’s not me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That time in life

In the name of Frugality

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In the name of Frugality

Sometimes I make things harder on myself than need be; the more difficult route  seems to call my name.  Yesterday, I spent the entire afternoon and most of the evening working on my patio.  I’ve had visions in my head of a cozy place to sit outside and relax.  Easy enough right?  Well, apparently my visions have expensive taste. The furniture I pictured, well, let’s just say, was slightly out of my already-tight budget.

Plan B. Wooden pallets.  I watch too much HGTV and peruse  Pinterest too much.  The wheels in my head start churning and I mentally start making all these plans to do this and that without really thinking through how I will actually  do this and that.  Searching “wooden pallet projects” on Pinterest is like opening the DYI’ers closet of dreams.  I thought to myself, “I’ve used pallets successfully in the past so why not again?”

palletsThis time however, the pallets seemed heavier and bigger. After lugging them up a hill and onto my patio, I had trouble moving them around.  Their sizes were slightly different, they weren’t conforming to the idea in my head and I was one short.  I flipped them, moved them around and finally decided other things had to be changed on the patio first, which lead to digging up the flower bed,  potting a gardenia and moving the table.  Finally able to get the pallets into a configuration that worked, they had to be sanded; they were a splintery mess.  As I sanded and the sweat dripped from my nose, I thought about my last experience with pallets.  Conveniently, I had not recalled the work that went into it.  I just remembered how pleased I was when it was completed.  I sanded some more, stopped to pull out a splinter and mumbled to myself, “Should have just plopped some patio furniture on the credit card, ugh.”

Back aching and getting a little sunburned, I was finally ready to paint; just plain white and only the parts that showed. At this point, I wasn’t going for perfection.  “I’ll shoot for the bohemian, shabby look…”painted pallets

Painting complete, I spent the next 10 minutes scrubbing paint off my hands and arms.  I’m a messy painter. Then I moved potted plants around from here to there and fiddled with the table trying to get it to sit correctly in the now defunct flower bed. “Great, now I need to get pavers so the table will sit level.”

I had intended to get this far and stop for the day; I would go later in the week to buy cushions. However, when I get on a roll, I can’t sit until it’s done. So, at 6:00 pm I headed out to buy cushions.  I found some on sale and considered what sizes would work best.  I shopped around and found some solar lanterns on sale (I have a thing for lanterns) and headed home.  Anxious to see how they looked,  I didn’t even go inside first.  I pulled them out and started placing them and of course something wasn’t quite right.  Now 8:00 pm, I headed back to the store, returning one cushion and buying three others.  They worked.  Finally, the cozy little area I had hoped for was reality. Tired, bruised, back aching, I took a deep breath and exhaled.  Except for some tweaking I will no doubt do later, I was done and it looked pretty damn good.finished pallets

Yes, my frugality and my “sure, I can do that” attitude may kill me one day, but I  doubt the feeling of accomplishment would have been there had I just gone out and bought the standard patio furniture.  There aren’t many things I do on a  daily basis that make me feel accomplished. Like most people, my job is just that, a job.  It pays the bills.  I love the people I work with, but I push paper all day and stare at a computer.   There’s no creative process.  Maybe I subconsciously look for projects that challenge me a bit.   I use my brain and my hands to create something.  I have something to show for my day of work.  Do I bite off more than I can chew sometimes? Well, all I can say is every project I’ve started, from tiling a back splash to faux painting a living room with a vaulted ceiling, I’ve completed.  It’s an awesome feeling saying, “Yes, I did that.”

Now.. If I just had power tools….