Sunday, May 31, 2009

Creative Friends, I Need Your Help!

Here's a little table I got for free at the end of a yard sale last year; the lady said, "Please just take it!" It's sitting in our basement right now.

I want to put it in my family room, to be the warm weather replacement for our electric fireplace, sitting next to the chair where I do my handwork in the evenings:

The room's decor is very casual; the walls are sponge-painted a pale, sage-ish green. Here's a view of the top; as you can see, it has deep grooves in the wood so it sort of looks like hardwood flooring:

Should I paint the table? What would you do?

I'd welcome any and all suggestions, as I'm out of ideas!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

We Have A Winner!

Good morning everyone! Thank you to all who entered my Cottage Charm giveaway! The randomly chosen winner was:

Linda from My Shabby Rose Cottage!

Congratulations Linda! And, thank you to all who entered! I sincerely hope you will be back to visit my blog! I know I will be revisiting everyone's blogs in the coming days!

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Officially Summer!

**Remember: today at 11:59 p.m. Mountain is your last chance to enter
my Cottage Charm giveaway!**

Well, the little guy got out of school yesterday, and the outdoor pool has opened, so, it is officially summer around here!

I finished that project at work, which took 28 hours, and am hoping they can take it from there so I won't have to go in again! Can you tell I'm ready for summer fun to begin?

This weekend, our neighborhood is having their community garage sale and there are sales galore! This morning I spent 2-1/2 hours driving around to about a dozen sales and found some great stuff, which I will share with you later. Tomorrow, a friend is coming along and we will hit the rest of the sales!

For now, I thought I'd show you what I've been working on the last few evenings: pillows for me. You know how it is: you create pretty things for everyone else, or to sell, and don't keep anything for yourself? Well, it has taken me about 3 years (that's how long I've had the fabric and pillow forms) but I finally made the pillows I'd envisioned to decorate the top of my bed in our master bedroom:

This bright floral design is the same fabric I had our small recliner upholstered in. It really pops in our blue and white, mostly toile, decor, a true "splash of color" and proof that I'm not afraid to mix patterns! Above you can see the back of the pillow; the photo below shows the front.

This second pillow is more understated; I used three different fabrics in it, including the mustard yellow backing you can't see in the photo.

The yellow trim was a challenge but I think it was worth it. I even covered my own buttons for the front.
I'm so happy I finally got to these! Am I the only one who has trouble making the time to make my own pretty things, for me, to keep?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sunday Stealing on a Thursday (Huh?)

I really like some of the memes you can find on Sunday Stealing so I decided to do this one, but on Thursday instead of Sunday.

I think this particular Sunday Stealing meme, while good, is too darn long; so, I'm only answering my favorite 10 of the 20 questions!

1. What bill do you hate paying the most?
The phone bill, because my husband just flat out refuses to get rid of our land line and it's so annoying to have to pay for it when we could be using our cell phones for everything!

2. Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner?
PF Chang's, a Chinese restaurant. It was sort of a fluke; our son was camping so we went out to dinner and a movie, but hadn't made reservations so rather than wait forever for a table we chose to eat at the bar.

Now, normally sitting at a busy restaurant bar with the bartender in your face wouldn't seem like it was romantic, but we were sitting next to each other instead of across from each other, and drinking wine, and eating their amazing bass (fish)...and it really was wonderful. This couple sitting next to us asked how long we'd been dating and when we told them we'd been married for 17 years they couldn't believe it!

3. How many colleges did you attend?
Four. Wow! I also took classes at the Fachhochschule in Cologne, Germany, but I was only auditing so I don't think that counts.

4. What famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Living or dead?
If I had to choose from among the living, I wouldn't want to eat with someone famous. I think I'd like to have dinner with any one of my first three boyfriends from when I was a teenager. I am curious to know how their lives turned out, and to get some perspective.
If dead are included, I'd like to share a meal with Jane Austen, at her house.

5. Ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purpose?
Well, I didn't have one on hand when I needed it. When we first moved to this house I seemed to have trouble with the way the burners on the stove were set up differently than on our old stove at our last home, and I would turn on the wrong one frequently.

One time I had a cookie sheet with garlic bread sitting on the stove and accidentally turned on the burner that most of it was sitting on. I was standing at the sink with my back turned when all of a sudden the smoke detectors went off. At about that same instant I smelled smoke, and turned to see the garlic bread on fire. It burned a hole in the cookie sheet! What a mess!

My son was about 6 at the time and he told that story to everyone for a while, always starting out with, "My mommy almost burned down the house."

I have a fire extinguisher mounted on my kitchen wall now. It's little. It's not pretty, but I'm not planning to be without one after that experience. (Yes, I know baking soda works, too. But just the sight of the extinguisher makes me more careful.)

6. Do you have a “go to” person?
This is a tough question to answer. My parents are gone and my best friend (since we were 11 years old) and I are somewhat estranged right now. (But I'm working on that.) I do have my husband!

7. Over the years, what about you do you think has changed the most?
I used to be very shy -- like hide-behind-my-mother's-legs, unable-to-speak-up shy. In first grade I was sent to the speech therapist because they were concerned that maybe I couldn't talk! Not anymore. Now, I find I have no problem with public speaking, walking into a room full of strangers, traveling alone overseas...pouring my heart out online...

8. Looking back at high school were they the best years of your life?
In many ways, yes. I had fantastic high school years, with a circle of close friends that I had a lot of fun with and felt very accepted by. It was a great time of discovery.

9. Who do you think impacted your life the most?
When I was in high school our church had a youth minister, a woman named Renee. When I met her, I was 14 and she was 28. She was a childless professional who taught a bunch of us how to be a team of peer ministers. We would take younger kids on weekend retreats that were hugely successful. For me, they were life changing. She took me under her wing and challenged me to try new things. I think she was the first person who ever told me I could do anything. She influenced me not to be afraid to take, and make, opportunities. I really don't know what my life would've been like if I hadn't met her.

10. What is the scariest thing that has happened to you as an adult?
About 10 years ago, in California, I was the victim of road rage. The guy literally tried to run me into the railing of the highway because he didn't like the way I merged. My son was in the backseat, 2 years old at the time.

I did memorize his license plate and called the CHP when I got home. I spoke to an investigator who did a good job of following up. It turns out the driver had a suspended license so it was a crime for him to even be on the road. Although I wasn't able to charge him with attempted vehicular manslaughter, because I had no witnesses, I did have the satisfaction of knowing he was fined and his suspension was further increased so he would be kept off the roads for at least a while. Very. Scary.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Etsy Spot: CREATEaTHOUGHT

I've just discovered another great Etsy shop called CREATEaTHOUGHT. You know me, and how much I love words...that's why this shop really appeals to me! Through her creations, she seeks to give us a place to put down our thoughts that is as special and unique as they are!

Here are a couple of my favorite pieces in her shop:

"Orange is really a lighthearted hue journal"
I love the poetic tribute to the color orange! And, of course, the buttons!


"Spring Flower magnets"
These "FridgeFabulous" magnets are super powerful, just right to hold all those heavy works of your family Picasso! I really like the wild asterisk pattern -- it reminds me of the atomic era!

Be sure to stop by and see all of CREATEaTHOUGHT's other goodies, and visit the blog, too!

I'm a Joiner!

I just joined the Etsy Bloggers Street Team! That means I have a cool new button over there on my right side bar, and I get to learn more about my community of Etsians who blog! I'm jazzed, can you tell? I'm going to get straight to work and blog about the featured EtsyBlogger, right now!

Speaking of work, I'm beginning my second week of temp work for my former employer; things are going well there -- I've learned some PhotoShop basics, and have had a chance to greet and photograph about 80 employees so far. (That's what I'm doing, did I mention that? I'm re-photographing everyone for their new ID badges.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Four More Days!


It's your last chance to enter my Cottage Charm giveaway! Follow the link to enter on my original post only, before May 29 at 11:59 P.M. Mountain!

Be sure to visit Twice Remembered's blog to enter all the wonderful giveaways, and make new blog friends!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

commencement, n., A beginning

The same year Dennis and I got married, our nephews Alex and Spencer were born. They are fraternal twins, born to my brother and his then wife. I'll never forget the day he found out they were having twins: they'd been to her ultrasound appointment and came over to my house for dinner right afterwards, still in shock. "Two heartbeats, Laurie. Two! That means we're having twins! There's two babies in there!" He explained this to me over and again, his eyeballs as big as saucers.

Their father commuted for his job between San Francisco and Santa Rosa on highway 101; if you've ever driven that route, you know that there are two nearby exits just north of the Golden Gate Bridge called "Alexander Avenue" and "Spencer Avenue." Driving back and forth those months awaiting the babies birth, he got kind of attached to the names.

Alex and Spencer's first Christmas

It was six years before we had managed a little cousin for Alex and Spencer.

Ben's first Christmas

Ben's first birthday
Our hearts were broken when my brother and his wife split up; the twins were around 8 years old and we entered a period of seeing them less and less during the rocky divorce years.

Then, we moved to Colorado and within just a few months, their mother moved with them to Colorado, too! We ended up living about a 1-1/2 hour drive from each other. It was so unexpected, and wonderful!

Colorado times together



Where have the years gone?

These handsome men are (left to right) my brother, Alex, and Spencer. Yesterday we had the privilege to be there as they walked across the Littleton High School stage draped in highest honors -- both of them! -- and graduated from high school!

Ben and Alex

Alex, Spencer, and my family

Ben with his first cousins

The next stop for both of them: the University of Colorado at Boulder!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

For the Love of Jane

I'm a huge Janeite, or Jane Austen fan, so when I saw this lovely sachet on Etsy called "Simply Jane" I just had to have it! It arrived prettily packaged from Annas Trunk...

and went straight into place hanging from the doorknob on my bedroom door! I just love it! You'll have to go see all the other historical reproductions at Anna's Trunk!

While I was up in my bedroom, I remembered that I'd wanted to share another photo with you all:
I found this little blue baby's quilt at the thrift store and I will treasure it!

It has the tiniest hand stitching, the softest worn cotton feeling, and the lovely little hand embroidered wreaths are just precious!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pikes...Peeking

Spring has hit the Rockies! The last few days have been in the high 70's and '80's -- finally! Cookout weather! And, my front flower garden is alive and purple, with lilacs and the last of the gorgeous tulips.

I thought I'd better go ahead and post these photos of Pikes Peak. The first photo isn't great quality as I took it with my phone, just to capture how the mountain was almost invisible with the mist in front of it, 'though it was a sunny, pretty day where I was below.

The second photo gives you a good view of how it looked with snow still on it just a few days ago. I think this is the last snow-capped view, because the snow is quickly melting away and will surely be gone after the heat we have had for the last few days!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Wonder of It All

I'm working for the next few weeks, part time, at my former employer. They had an urgent project come up and no one to do it, until they remembered little old me. Today I went in to discuss the project and ended up working for a few hours. As I was driving home 45 minutes later than I'd planned, grabbing dinner on the way, it all came rushing back to me -- the experience of being a working-outside-the-home mother, which I have been before and will surely be again. I felt pushed, rushed, exhilarated, stimulated...and tired. Kudos to everyone reading who does this daily: you are a hero, and a wonder.

I'm going to try to stay up on my blogging and blog-reading but if you see less of me while I'm working -- that will be why.

One of my favorite reads, Mary at Vintage Patina, posted recently about garage sale wonders and I'm quoting her:

"'wonders.' it means different things to different people, i've learned. i think all of these finds are wonders...my husband just wonders why..." (Go check out her wonders and see what you think.)

Can't you just relate? I remember when we had a chance to go to Antiques Roadshow a couple of years ago (which was a dream of mine -- fulfilled!) and I took some stuff that my husband sure wondered about, including some old linens that a dear friend had given me.

My friend had told me that they were from around 1920 and had belonged to her cousin, who was married to a missionary and had brought them back from China. She didn't want them and was going to give them to her church for the rummage sale before she remembered my love for such things.

The Antiques Roadshow appraiser told me that the linens weren't from China at all, that they were "better." They were mostly Madeira from Portugal, and fine examples of it, and that those I'd brought with me were worth ~$1,000.

Before Antiques Roadshow, whenever my husband saw me digging through piles of linens at a tag sale, he'd say, very sarcastically, "Just what we need: another tablecloth." (He tends to call any non-clothing fabric item "a tablecloth.")

After Antiques Roadshow he never said that again!

Thank you, Antiques Roadshow!

What about you? Have family/loved ones ever wondered (aloud) about the objects of your thrifty passions?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ueber Cool!

An "Aw, Shucks" and a thank you to Charlene for this award!

It's a another fun one -- all pink and ribbony, with a great German word in the title and you know how I love that! You must visit Charlene and her blog A Virtuous Woman, where she takes both a spiritual and practical approach to all areas of the home life, including wonderful Southern cooking!

I know it takes time, effort, planning and thought to blog; so, I'm nominating every one of my fellow bloggers to grab and pass along if you have blogged/posted an entry on your blog at least three times within the past week/seven day period, including sharing at least one photo; you are all amazing!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My First ATC's

I made three Artist Trading Cards (ATC's) this week:

The first one I completed was the blue themed card; everything on it is vintage or antique with the exception of the tiny silver bead inside the larger blue flower bead.

Next I made the red, white an blue card with some of my favorite tablecloth fabric. It's completely vintage with the same bead exception.

Finally I made the pink bird ATC - this one has mostly new fabrics and findings, with a couple of vintage elements.
I found it took me about as long to work in small scale as it normally does to do larger pieces, but maybe that's because I'm new at it.

Or, maybe I'm just slow.

I had fun, and am going to be gifting these. What do you do with your ATC's? Sell them, keep them, trade them...?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Score!

I have finally, finally scored an Etsy Treasury and, guess what? It may be starring YOU! I featured my creative, wonderful friends who blog and have Etsy shops. I didn't have room for everyone but filled up all the spaces and the alternates. Go see before it ends in 2, maybe 3, days!

Whew! That was fun!

Seeing Green in Colorado

One sunny day last week I had the privilege to accompany my son's sixth grade class to visit a teacher's home in a nearby neighborhood.

The teacher wanted to share his home with his students because he had spent four years building it on his five acre property. The home is completely sustainable.

In the photo above you can see the side of the house to the left of the tree and school buses. This is the wall of windows, which he doesn't want or need to cover as the house is located at the very end of his property, far from the road or city lights.

The fellow with the llama is a neighbor who keeps 27 of the creatures and brought one over for the kids to see. He toured also the kids through his farm set up, which includes goats for cheese and milk and chickens for eggs.

The teacher told the children how he built the house; here is how I understood it, in a nutshell: he began by excavating a huge hole on the home site, and then building up walls with discarded tires inside the hole. The tires were covered with a natural mud mixture, and then reinforced with cement. When the structure was finished he took all the dirt he'd excavated and built it up along the house's back wall to create a cavelike effect. This is what helps the home maintain its stable temperature year round: between 65 and 70 degrees. The front of the home is that wall of windows in the photo above, and on top of the roof he has a solar panel.

We were able to walk on the roof, which is coated with rubber, again from recycled tires, because the dirt mound against the side of the house makes it accessible as if you're climbing a small hill. I'd never seen a solar panel up close. It's beautiful! The energy generated by the solar panel is stored in large rectangular battery casings inside the house. He's not on the grid, so he doesn't sell energy back to the power company, but he can store enough to be safe and secure year 'round. He gets his water from a well on his property.

I liked how he made the outside of the house look like a natural adobe home, and how he added lots of pretty details, like this awning. He had stained glass window details indoors, made from recycled glass bottles, and also a beautiful antique window sill on a closet door. The inside walls were a mixture of the natural clay left exposed, and the shiny, white sort of finish you see inside adobe homes.

The house was long and thin -- only one room deep in any place -- to assist with the efficiency in heating. He told us he only had to use his wood stove once during one blizzard this past winter, for a few hours in the middle of the night when the temperature dropped.

A friend of his was in the kitchen baking up, of all things, dog biscuits! They smelled so good! She runs a business doing this, and she let all the children try one because there's nothing in them but healthy, natural ingredients including vegetables, berries, etc. The ones we tried were pineapple. She explained the kitchen to us: the stovetop, oven, and refrigerator run on propane tanks. The natural stone flooring throughout the entire house is a breeze to clean: like professional restaurants, there is a large drain in the kitchen floor so that the stone tiles can be scrubbed or mopped and then hosed down! Wow! I was so impressed and immediately wondered why I didn't have that going on in my kitchen, too!

The kids had each created field journals and they were responsible to complete them while on the field trip; they needed to find and identify plants, animals, seeds, etc. and were encouraged to photograph what they found.

The best part, I think, was when the teacher invited them to help him thin out a grove of pine trees. The children had to visit the composted soil pile out back, shovel some into a wheel barrow, then take the dirt to the grove. They could choose a small sapling, dig it up, and then refill the empty hole with the composted soil. They were able to take the trees home. (Ours is still sitting on our porch, waiting to be transplanted.)

The kids had such a great time -- and so did I! I was surprised by how on task and motivated most of them were to learn, and how respectful and grateful they were to have been invited to the teacher's home.

When we first arrived, the teacher explained that there was evidence of a certain tribe of Native Americans on his land, and that tribe surely considered all of nature and the land to be a place of spiritual significance. He said he and his neighbors felt there was something spiritually special about that land, too. I truly felt that peace when I was there. It was a lovely day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Playing Tag

This is a great article about creating a tag line for your business, which I found through the always-great blog, Design Sponge. It got me thinking about having a tag line for my two Etsy shops.

Way back when I had my first craft business in 1992, my company name was All Good People (which is now my eBay user id) and my tagline was, "Handmade with love from vintage materials."

How about you? Does your creative endeavor have a tagline? Let me hear it! I'm looking for inspiration!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day Fun

My husband always has to work on Sundays. So, this year for Mother's Day my son and I got together with two friends and their children. Both women were also husband-less for the day; one's husband is serving in Iraq, and the other is single mom. We often spend our Sundays together and it's lovely.

This Sunday we decided to have a "Mom" day and instead of centering activities around the boys (all of us have sons) we chose Mom activities! First, we went to a most scenic spot in Colorado Springs and took turns taking photos of each other with our boys. One mom thoughtfully brought roses for us each to pose with!



It was an overcast day and there was quite a bit of glare, so many of the photos came out with the boys looking squinty! But, I still love the pictures. In the photo, I'm wearing my mother's orchid brooch.

Then, we ate at a favorite deli. I had strawberry shortcake -- what a treat!

Next, we drove to my favorite antique store in a nearby town and looked around; I bought a few trinkets such as swap items for that swap I'm participating in, and this little altered bird for myself:
It's double sided; isn't it sweet?

The bird's standing in front of (on the left) another antique find from a few days ago: a huge antique bowl with hand painted green, purple and yellow floral details and (on the right) the flowers my husband and son gifted me for Mother's Day.

After that, we stopped by the mall and each of us moms bought a pair of comfortable sandals. (Note: I took the sandals with me to the podiatrist and she was very approving of them.)

And then we ate again! It was a great Mother's Day! How was yours?