Day Seven – Dripping Springs, Texas

(This is the part of a series that began September 27th)

After we attended the Marburger Farm’s Antique Show on Tuesday we drove to our good friend’s home in Dripping Springs, Texas, which is West of Austin. We parked the RV in front of their horse stables and ambled down to their home for dinner, drinks and a lot of catching up. After we’d ate and drank our fill we dragged ourselves to our mobile home only to find out that now the generator wasn’t working. Whatever! Who needs electricity when you’re sleeping? We brushed our teeth and went to bed.

Thankfully our friends woke us up with fresh coffee and breakfast before we were awake enough to remember that we needed electricity to make coffee. Thank God! So again, the generator wasn’t needed. (As it turns out, the generator won’t turn on if you have less than a quarter tank of gas in the vehicle, so as soon as we filled up it was back to running smoothly)

Dianna and PattyAfter breakfast my friend Patty gave my daughter a lesson on her horse Beau. Dianna has joined an equestrian club at school and is volunteering at a rescue center, trading work hours for riding privileges. Patty is a fantastic teacher and she went over everything from grooming to tacking to basic riding. Dianna had a great time and learned a lot.

Percy is concernedPercy on the other hand was completely riveted. He has only seen one other horse and it was attached to a cart. It nearly made him poop his pants……..but he didn’t have pants. When Dianna got on Beau, he was beside himself. Again, he had no pants.

poor worn out puppyIt completely wore him out. I can understand. Watching her wore me out too.

My mother and I had horses when I was growing up, but she was a great rider with more bravery and determination than I’ve ever seen. She competed in Cross-Country Eventing shows against girls that were 40 years younger than her, and she won a fair share of ribbons. Kicking ass and taking names. What I remember most is her absolute exhilaration at the end of the jumping course. She was absolutely lit up on the inside.

my momMy mom got Dianna on horses as often as she could. I wish it had been more. Their time together was way too short. After my mom died, being around horses became really difficult for me, to say the least. My mom and I rode together nearly every day when I was in high school. Just the smell of horses makes me miss her.

trottingWhen Dianna got on Beau, I will admit, a few silent tears were shed on the side of the arena. This time it was because she looked just like my Mom on that horse. She’s so beautiful. It was pure joy to watch. Thanks, Patty. Thanks for a new memory.

Let’s Get Personal

Salvaged Sanity StudioIt’s obvious to anyone that enters my studio that I believe personalizing your space is absolutely necessary. This is the wall in front of my main workstation. The walls are plastered and painted with my own interpretation of Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom Trees and all the hanging items are pieces connected to my late mother. It’s definitely MY room.

salvaged wood study spotWhen I made over my daughter’s study spot we put little bits of her everywhere and she loves it. That project prompted me in my next venture which is making message centers from salvaged wood, old books and flea market finds.

cottage chic organizerI love making them, but I’ve been getting requests to buy components of the boards separately. Ask and you shall receive:

build-your-own mail organizerI have created blank message center boards that are ready to be personalized.

message center boardI haven’t made them completely blank. Like the one above this one has a cork board and two hooks besides the two 3-ring binder spines.

message center boardThis one has two knobs as well and three magnet bars with bottle cap magnets. Each of these have two binder spines which can hold two mail holders, or six hanging frames or note pads, or a mix of all of these. The possibilities are endless.

Now you just need a few pretty accessories……

large mail holdersmall mail holdersmall mail holderlarge mail holdersmall mail holderjournal-holderEach of them are a little different. I wanted to make something for everyone. These are just a start. I’ll be making more of everything but also hanging frames, notepads and anything that you request. If there’s something missing on these boards that you wish they had, please tell me. I really want to know.

These can all be viewed on my Etsy shop. There you’ll also see more photos and all the details on each item. I’m just so excited to be able to show them off.

Inventory used: Stain & Seal and latex paint

Habitat for Humanity ReStore San Diego

salvaged doorsI made a trip to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore yesterday. If you’re not familiar with Habitat for Humanity, it’s a charity that gives thousands of low-income families new hope in the form of affordable housing. People in need of housing work alongside volunteers from churches, and community groups to build their own home and in the process tackle a significant social problem―decent housing for all.

overstock flooringThe ReStore offers salvaged materials for sale to the public that were donated by construction companies and homeowners. They also have a small amount of new products like flooring, cabinetry and countertops that businesses donate which are usually overstocked or discontinued.

salvaged cabinet doorsThey have cabinet units that are still intact but they also have loose doors. If you wanted new doors for a bathroom unit or an island it would definitely be worth looking here first. Doors also make great chalkboards, bulletin boards and serving trays.

salvaged lightingThe ReStore has a ton of lighting. They have a lot of hanging lights, but they also carry fan blades, sconces, lamps and a big assortment of replacement parts. When you look at lighting, try to remember that you can always paint over metal, so if that 70’s brass doesn’t row your boat you can always change the color.

salvaged ovensAppliances are plentiful. They have ovens, microwaves, dishwashers and refrigerators. I’m pretty sure they only sell things that still work, but definitely ask before you buy.

salvaged toiletsAHH! The toilet graveyard. A lot of the toilets here look brand new.  It seems to me that a lot of what gets donated to the ReStore are standard products from homes that are upgrading to The Assmaster 5000. If you haven’t upgraded yet, I highly recommend it.

salvaged tileYou could easily replace your flooring with products from the ReStore. They have loose tile like this, but they have a large amount of tile still in the boxes. That goes for wood flooring as well.  They also have wood moldings and baseboards as well as random granite pieces and bathroom tile. A lot of these products haven’t been used but are probably project leftovers.

old organSometimes the ReStore gets odd things in like this organ. This reminded me of what my mom used to say whenever she came across something ugly or useless. She’d say, “Well, I need two of those………one to crap on, and one to cover it up with.”

white organHere’s the second one Mom!

If you have a Habitat for Humanity ReStore near you I highly recommend you check it out. There’s a lot more there than I have shown and it’s definitely cheaper than buying new. To top it off, all the money goes to Habitat for Humanity to help them build more homes. Also remember to call them when you’re remodeling. They’ll come to your house and pick up anything salvageable like windows, doors, toilets and cabinetry. Do what you can to keep this stuff from going in the landfill. The stuff  you’re tired of can be just the thing someone else is looking for.

Becoming a Parent? Don’t make plans

London sightseeingIt’s my daughter’s birthday today, but it’s also my birthday. Yes, I gave birth to her on my birthday, in the same hospital that my mother gave birth to me 29 years earlier. I love having the same birthday as my daughter, but the day it happened, I was truly pissed off. That’s because up until that day, I hadn’t been a parent, and I foolishly thought I had control over my life. I was such an idiot.

My daughter’s birthday reminds me every year of the most important lesson you learn from being a parent…..You and your silly plans have no value.

I remember before I had her all the plans we had made and how even before she was born they had all been destroyed one by one.

  1. I will be a working mother: As it turned out I had permanent morning sickness and had to leave my job as a nurse two weeks after conception so that I could attend to a toilet for 9 months straight. Sweet.
  2. We will build a house out in rural Colorado: The loss of the job meant we couldn’t afford the house that we had nearly finished building and we had to walk away. My husband had to ship me home to California since he was flying out of state the majority of the time and couldn’t take care of me. So I attended to my parents toilet instead. Awesome.
  3. We will have two children: The bad pregnancy insured that I would never allow myself to be pregnant again. The doctor explained it to me this way, “Basically, you’re allergic to being pregnant.” Perfect.

By the time I was ready to give birth we had been completely stripped of our plans,  but I was still under the impression that I was in control. So although my daughter was due on my birthday I planned to be induced the day before since my doctor was leaving town. I had an appointment for Christ’s sake! What an idiot!

The rest of the story is pretty obvious; the labor didn’t progress and it dragged on all day. As an added bonus I didn’t get to keep my plan for a regular delivery either. They changed it to an emergency c-section when my daughter started struggling, and she was pulled into this life just a few minutes after midnight. Done.

My sister, the social worker, (aka angel for the unloved) used to work with a race of people who don’t wear watches or make appointments. Their religion believes it is presumptuous to assume you will still be alive at 2 o’clock on Thursday. That always struck me as the epitome of humility. Who are you that you can make plans? Who do you think you are, God?

My plans were good ones, but God had better plans and gave me a life I never asked for. I live near my family now instead of out in the sticks in Colorado (they didn’t even have a Target out there). My husband flies now for a company that gets him home in time for dinner nearly every night. Since I lost my nursing job I had the chance to try making money with my art and be home to raise my daughter. My daughter turned out to be as time consuming as two children since she didn’t sleep the first six years of her life. Thank God I didn’t have another one.

Now I share my birthday with the most amazing young woman I have ever known who is a constant reminder that my plans are small minded and that life has bigger plans for us all. Happy Birthday, Baby!

Christmas Decorating

glass ornaments

Photo by Dianna Jorgenson

We decorated for Christmas this weekend. To be completely truthful, I’m not usually happy about the holidays. My mom died nearly six years years ago, and to put it bluntly, it’s just not much fun without her. This year I’m determined to push past my Grinchness.

I read something from Allison Dubois last month that said that our loved ones hate to see us sad during family events because they would give anything to be there instead of watching from the other side. I hate to think that I’m making my mom sad, so I’m trying to be thankful for all of it. The neighborhood cookie party, the gift exchanges and yes, even the decorating.

So here’s some of the new touches we added this year….

three Christmas treesOur fake tree died last year, by that I mean it looked fried and sad and asked to be put out of it’s misery. I don’t like the idea of cutting down trees, so I decided to buy three different types of live trees that we can plant after the holidays are over. Because they’re live and need to be watered I put plastic trays under them to protect the floor. And since all of that is ugly, I wrapped the pots in a large swath of natural fabric and tied it with a ribbon. One of them sits on an overturned pot, just so they’re all different heights.  I think they turned out really well.

Percy attack

Our dog, Percy, believes that anything that looks like a stuffed animal should be in his mouth, and then they get ass-raped which is just sad (poor Lambchop). So some of our ornaments just can’t be put on the tree, and since I chose small trees, the large ornaments couldn’t be used either.

Christmas ornament boxI decided to put them somewhere that Percy couldn’t get to them. This terrarium is from IKEA and it’s really fun to decorate. All I did was pile in the ornaments and a string of white lights. I love it.

Christmas snowflakes

photo by Dianna Jorgenson

We have a vase full of branches up on our Hoosier Hutch and I love throwing these snowflake on the tips.

Christmas candleholderThis weird green tree is a candle holder. I pulled off the votive holders and put a few of the large glass balls on the stands. Normally the white doves are our tree topper, but Percy was just drooling at their feathers so they had to be moved to a higher level. I know it’s different, but I love it.

Mom's Christmas treeThis little tree was my Mom’s. I put my most fragile ornaments here along with some of my mom’s ornaments that I saved. It’s right outside my bedroom door so I get to look at it right when I wake up and just before I go to bed. Peace on Earth.

Studio Renovation

destashio studioOne week after my epiphany about how to increase my studio’s counter space and the renovation is complete. It definitely started out ugly and there were a couple moments where I’m sure my family heard me swearing in my little room (what’s new?), but it was definitely worth it. I was able to add over 7 feet of counter space along with more storage both on the main floor and in the closet.

Let’s start the tour:

before photoI should probably say something about the walls and ceiling before we get started. I did these back in 2009. The ceiling finish is made from Anagalypta wallpaper painted with Modern Masters Iron Paint, then rusted, then covered here and there with a plaster that peels up. The effect is that I have an old tin ceiling that the paint has peeled off and the tin has rusted. The walls were inspired by Van Gogh’s painting of almond tree blossoms and were created with Faux Effects Lusterstone. Several colors were trowelled on then I hand painted the trees adding Golden’s Glass Bead Gel into the centers of the flowers. I still love it, so none of that was touched during the remodel.

This is what my only counter space looked like when I got started. I love the glass top because I can always scrape paint off so it’s always clean. The only thing IKEA offers for this top is sawhorses which I thought were cool but have since figured out that they take up a lot of space and have no storage.

mixed media deskI went back to IKEA and bought these two Expedit bases at $40 a piece. I’m loving that the bases feel a lot sturdier. They have so much storage space that I haven’t even filled up the back cubbies. I decided to make this area a mixed media station with all those items in one place. inspiration wallThis is a close-up of the inspiration wall above the desk. It’s mostly a collection of things that keep my late mother’s presence close to me.

hanging organizerTo the left of this desk I have a lot of places to hang supplies rather than cluttering up the desk with them.

To the left of the hooks is my closet. I decided to paint the inside of the closet to get rid of some product. I used Terra Cotta colored Setcoat from Faux Effects, followed by Golden’s Copper Metallic Medium. The metallic medium was great because it covered in one coat, which was important since I only had enough for one coat. I live on the edge!

I pulled out a bookcase to use as a base for the new counter, so in it’s place I installed shelves that go all the way across. Since there are sliding doors on the closet I had to put two photos together to show you what it looks like, so forgive the splice line. I like having all my books and fabric inside the doors so that they’re safe from paint flinging.

Olivia's towerTo the right of the mixed media station is a tower of storage pieces that hold all my office supplies. But most importantly, it holds up Olivia so she can keep track of all the goings on.

Studio BeforeSo this is a before shot of the opposite side of the studio. This is where I kept dragging in a table and cramming it in among the flotsam in a desperate attempt to create a second workstation. My epiphany last week was that if I removed the bookcase I could put in a permanent countertop. Thus, the bookcase was removed.

paint stationThis photo makes me want to cry. Look at all that counter space! I dedicated this space to just painting. All my paints are underneath and all my tools are either hanging or on the counter. It’s so awesome. To the left of the new station is my sewing machine which hasn’t changed but I love that I can leave it open now that the bookcase is gone. More counter space!

paint storageThis base is made from a IKEA Expedit bookcase that used to be in the closet. I had it sitting vertically in the closet but realized that if I laid it on it’s side it would be desk height. Adding four craft cubes I already had made a base that’s over 7 feet long. All I bought was a $23 sheet of  melamine covered particle board at Home Depot and had them cut it to fit my space. I also ironed on the melamine edge trim to cover the raw particle board where it was cut. It’s a very easy thing to do. Melamine is a great surface for me because very few things stick to it.

bulletin boardThis room actually connects to my daughter’s bathroom which is a Jack-and-Jill. I’ve never used the door because I always have something blocking it and because you never want to walk into a teenage girl’s bathroom…….ever. I decided to make use of it by creating a bulletin board out of cork, fabric and ribbon that I already had on hand. I love how it came out. My husband also added a power strip behind the counter so that I can plug things in without crawling through the base to get to an outlet. So smart.

tool pegboardThe final addition was this pegboard. I had these metal panels from when I used to sell at craft shows. Since I’m no longer travelling for work I decided to empty my toolbox and have everything hanging where I can reach it. It’s really handy and it’s good for the brushes to hang rather than getting disfigured by laying in a pile.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the tour. I’m already back at work and totally loving my new/old space. I can’t wait for Melanie to see it now. It’s still small, but I feel like it got much bigger.

Inventory used: 1 quart copper medium

Happy 20th Anniversary

20 years ago today, in my parents backyard, I said, “I do,” in front of my friends and family, to the man above on the left. Most of the people there had never met Russ because living the life of a pilot means you’re not home very much. It was an odd choice for me, since I had avoided military men my whole life, which living in San Diego, is nearly impossible. I loved my family and didn’t want to live away from home, but the truth is, you can’t choose who you fall in love with.

We met on a blind date that I had tried to get out of several times, but he caught me on the phone when I was trying to cancel and his dry sense of humor caught me off guard. I could tell right away that he was wicked smart, which I have a huge weakness for. Add to that a very dark sense of humor and I was hooked.

On paper it was a poor choice. He was gone a lot, he came from a very broken home, he’d had his heart not just broken, but crushed, but my family has a habit of picking up lost puppies, and he was certainly lost. I like to say that he didn’t fall in love with me, but that Russ fell in love with my family. He found in us what he had been looking for, and did everything he could to win over our hearts. He succeeded, even though I nearly died on a date with him, even though he dragged me away to Florida and then Denver, like I said, he’s wicked smart.

He showed me the world. I have been more places than I ever imagined. I’ve stood on Hadrian’s Wall,

I’ve slept in a castle,

I’ve walked across The London Tower Bridge, several times,

I’ve pushed a trolley into Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, (for all the Harry Potter fans out there)

I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, twice,

I’ve been to Hogwarts,

I spent three days in Venice,

I drank wine in a vineyard in Italy,

I’ve seen the Coliseum,

and I’ve been to the Vatican City in Rome.

Above all that, we’ve raised a compassionate and beautiful daughter who has only known a father’s love that fiercely fights for her every day. My mother used to say, “I’ve never seen a man love a child more than Russ loves his daughter.”

In the last 20 years I have been given more than I ever dreamed of from a man who came with so little in his hands. What matters most in this world is the depth of  person’s soul and the courage and strength to share it.