Giving furniture new life

In an effort to update my blog more often, I'm going to write about random things I do around here. My big kick lately has been giving furniture a new color -- i LOVE color. Anyone who saw my house in Charleston knows that I'm not afraid to brighten it up. We've muted the tones a little out here in Washington, but still are not afraid of bold color. I am putting up a few pics of items I've recently given a makeover. I keep forgetting to take before pictures, which is a bummer, but I'll get better!

First off, we have these rockers. I looked all over for some cheap rockers, but believe it or not, you can't get them for less than $100 a pop. My neighbor sold me her old ones (2 rockers and a table) for under $100, which I thought was a steal. Not garage sale cheap, mind you, but better than anything I'd seen. Only problem was they were a little beat up and your plain old ugly white. Not nearly cute enough for my front porch! So, a little bit of sanding and a couple of cans of spray paint later, wa-lah! (Is there an official spelling of wa-lah? I feel like it's probably some fancy french word I'm not smart enough to know. Fill me in. Maybe it's voila! I read that word a lot but never knew how to pronounce it. . .okay, off on a tangent, that's for another blog). So, a little gray primer spray paint, then my final color, and here are my rockers. Actually, I had originally picked a more "mauve" color from the store, thinking it matched my trim and laterns. It didn't. Everyone kept saying you couldn't even tell there was a difference, but I'm a little anal (i've come to accept this about myself), so I had to go back and buy the "georgia brick" paint and re-spray. A couple of cushions later, we had a nice little porch.

Now there was the issue of a side table. The aforementioned table I bought with the chairs was too big and box to fit nicely between my rockers. I will get to that piece later. So I found this gem for $4 at a garage sale. I loved the lines of it, but again, it was a boring brown wood. Very smooth surface, clearly an indoor piece. I could have spray painted again, but I wasn't sure if I'd like that thick, finished look. I decided to try my hand at "weathering" furniture for the first time. It was cheap and small, so I figured even if it was terrible, it wasn't that big of a deal. I went at the piece with a hammer and screws first. Very fun. Then I mixed some paint (I just bought one of the small sample jars in the color I wanted) with waters and brushed on. No real pattern, just get it covered. When that dried, I sanded the whole piece down. That really helped with the shabby chic look. After that I added another coat of paint (not watered down this time). Again, I tried to be sloppy. Finally, I finished it off with a coat of polyurethane to give it a shine. I'm pretty happy overall. Admittedly, it's a bit more shabby than chic, but since it's just a porch piece, I think it works!

Back to the table that came with the rockers. I didn't want to get rid of it, and I figured our back yard could use some color. Kept it easy, and simply used a bright blue spray paint with no primer. I didn't really care how great it looked, since it was in the back and wouldn't be scrutinized. We have these two lime green plastic adirondacks that needed a friend, so I threw her in there. My bright backyard makes me happy.

This last piece was the first thing I took on in our new house, and I have to admit -- I'm pretty darn tootin' proud of it. I found this nasty old black workbench in our new basement. REALLY should have take a before picture! It was a little beat up, but again, I liked that shape, so I figured I'd give it a whirl. I bought some primer and paint and went at it. First I sanded the whole piece down to try and take off the rough edges and huge scrapes. Then I just threw on a few coats of primer, and finished with a few coats of my white. I removed the old handles, and found the cute blue hardware at Lowe's. I found some cute baskets that fit perfectly in the shelves, and my piece was complete. I love this thing, and literally use it everyday. The baskets give us extra clothes storage, and I used the drawer for all of my random things that might normally accumulate on top of my dresser.

So that's it for now. That's how I took four old pieces of furniture and gave them new life. If you have any questions, let me know. I really know nothing about any of this, but just try things and see what happens. It's really fun! If you don't want to mess up something in your own house, just go grab a piece at a garage sale and see what happens. And I will definitely take "before" pictures from here on out (I just get so excited to get started it escapes me)!


It's a girl!

Another part of our ultra-cool ultrasound was finding out we were having a girl. It was a surreal moment – one second the tech was just looking around not saying much, the next she casually says, “Blah, blah, blah, little girl.” I honestly don’t know what she said first, but I was all of the sudden I felt shock, awe, amazement, doubt, and joy. I almost cried a little. Not because we were having a little girl (as my husband misconstrued), but because of the enormity of it all. There was a little girl in my belly. Wow. I had a baby girl. Just knowing the baby was a she (and the feeling would have been the same had it been a he), somehow bonded me to her – rooted my love deeply and fiercely. I say that before I go on, so that no one misunderstands my current fears and hesitations about her gender. One of the more common questions when I tell people we’re having a girl is, “Are you excited?” And I always feel like a terrible mother (which I’m sure is only a preview of feelings to come) when I hesitate. Because it’s not that I’m NOT excited – it’s just that I’m also terrified. Girls seem somehow more fragile, which to me translate easier to mess up. If I lose my patience and act like a jerk, a boy will forget about it by the next day (at least that’s how it works with my husband). I could scar my little girl for life. And then I also have this sense of guilt, because I’m not so good at “girly” things. Like I’m shortchanging her from the very beginning. Like every parent, I want my baby to have EVERYTHING, including all the experiences that culture tells us girls should have with their mother. And when I’m honest, none of those are in my bag of tricks. I realize that it’s 2010 and the stereotypical idea of what girls should do is no longer in place, but I still feel that guilt. I want her to remember cooking with her mom, and doing cool craft projects and having dress-up parties. I mean, I didn’t even own a purse until I was 22. I guess I’m just scared that I’ll disappoint her. Which I’m sure is a feeling all parents have about their children. And I know that what she really needs is to be loved – to be encouraged and supported and taught about the love of her Father. And I can do all those things. And I have to believe that He wouldn’t have given me this gift if He didn’t think I was up for it. That we were up for it. Because Chris and I are a pretty good team. I know he pick up slack in places where I’m lacking, and vice versa. And I know she’ll have the best daddy a girl could want, which goes a long way in my confidence that she’ll turn out okay in the end.


20-week ultrasound

I have to say that the 20-week ultrasound was by far the coolest part of our pregnancy so far. It sounds so cliché to say “It changed everything,” but it really did change everything. Well, maybe it didn’t actually CHANGE everything (or anything), but for Chris and I something shifted. It took us about a year to get pregnant, and even though the tests all said positive and we’d even seen an 8-week sonogram and heard the heartbeat, there was still some part of me that didn’t quite believe it. I wasn’t feeling any movement, so I didn’t have that to reassure me. Every appointment I would be relieved when they said I was still pregnant. Once I saw her in the ultrasound, it was real. The “idea” of having a baby vanished, and the reality that WE ARE HAVING A BABY finally sunk in. She was moving around a lot during the sonogram, opening and closing her mouth and moving her little bitty baby hands. I think we finally realized that we had created someBODY, not just something. Well, God created her, but we were blessed enough to have a role in that story – and we are responsible for ensuring she is taken care of and loved and everything in between. Chris said before he saw her on the ultrasound he never really pictured an actual baby in his arms, but then there she was – our baby, wiggling around and chilling out. He’s much more protective of her now – I try to jiggle her sometimes so he might be able to see or feel her moving, but he doesn’t like that J Stop bothering her, he tells me. He already has the worried Dad mode turned on high . . . as long as he leaves the husband mode turned on too, I think it’s pretty cute. Here’s our little girl – God’s miracle, our blessing!

Yeah, yeah, I know this picture isn't nearly as exciting for everyone else as it is for us, but come on, admit it; she’s pretty stinkin’ cute already!

Flax-golden tales

I’m going to do some serious back-blogging to try and catch up this blog to where we are now. Like most people, the eminent arrival of a child spurred me into the blogosphere – determined to capture for all eternity the emotional rollercoaster of creating a life. Also hoping to have something to show the little nugget later, as a reminder of how much we love her, when she becomes filled with teen angst and is sure we are out to get her. My foray was short lived; I posted one day and then nothing. But I am now unwavering in my effort to get the blog up to speed and then to write at least ONCE A WEEK, so hold me to that. Sadly, I’m already guessing I might not live up to my own grandiose expectations. This blog won’t be just about the baby, but anything that strikes my fancy (or more likely, drives me nuts). Hopefully, it will allow me to share our life with the people we care about, friends and family that are too far away to meet for coffee or go out to dinner. And even share little details with those we see more often, but tend to get too bogged down in “life” with to really open up to. I love that part of “new” media – it gives us a chance to maintain connections with great people we have met in our life, but no longer share a geographic link. And we can post one blog for ALL those friends to read, instead of stressing about finding time to call, write, or text every one individually. And we can read their blogs, facebook updates, and twitter posts and learn more about them…sometimes in intriguing and complex ways that never would have been communicated in a conversation. I don’t think of myself as a writer, but a storyteller. I like to tell stories, meaning I might exaggerate, embellish, or leave out certain information. You have been forewarned. I also like to entertain, so might at times cater more toward your enjoyment than the nitty-gritty truth. But the essentials will be accurate, and if you want clarification, just ask! This is our story: Chris, Ali, Gypsy, Smoke and Baby Girl K (keep that in mind, it’s told mostly through my eyes).

So, without further adieu, I will use my favorite Shel Silverstein poem to get started:

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!


I just want to hold the bag

Okay, I heard this story on the radio, and I absolutely loved it. I've told it a few times, but I figured I'd write it down in case it inspired anyone else. At the very least, it will make you smile.

So, the radio lady is just talking about her little daughter who is three, almost four, and how they are just starting to have to talk about the idea of truth. Up until now, the little girl pretty much just always told the truth, because she didn't realize there was another option (reminds me of The Invention of Lying, if you've seen that). Anyway, that's where they are in the little girl's development.

So one evening she asks her dad if she can have some marshmellows. He tells her no, not right now, but you can have some after dinner. "Okay," she says. Then a second later she says, "I just want to hold the bag." He kind of laughs and says alright. (Big mistake daddy!) But it is funny to picture this little girl just asking to hold the bag of marshmellows since she can't eat them.

A couple of minutes later he hears a crinkle-crinkle from the kitchen and heads in to check it out. She is actually in the pantry with the bag in her hand (isn't it funny how we know to hide when we are doing something wrong?). He asks her if she ate a marshmallow and she shakes her head no. Then he gets down to her level and asks her to open her mouth. She melts instantly, all tears and sobbing, totally breaking down in her guilt. So they have a nice little chat about telling the truth and all that jazz.

But the radio lady says that she just keeps thinking about how the little girl said, "I just want to hold the bag." And how often we do that to God. For some reason, I was just really struck by that comparison.

He tries to point us in the right direction and head us off from making mistakes, clearly saying NO to something we shouldn't have. And we say, okay God, I understand. Umm, but I just want to hold the bag, okay? I'm not actually going to EAT the marshmallows (engage in the sin, abuse a blessing), I just want to be able to hold on to it. How ridiculous are we???? We are totally just like the 3-year old child, unable to only hold onto the bag, but instinctively grabbing a bite.

I guess for me it was just a wake-up call to have an awareness of areas in my life I might be holding on to, and realize that they are inevitably going to lead to me making a bad decision. If God says no, He has a good reason, and I can be sure it is for my benefit. I just need to be willing to let go of the bag, and trust that I'll get the good stuff later.

Gypsy wants to play