Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Beautiful Life

wabi sabi
Roger W. Hicks

A few years ago I came across the phrase Wabi Sabi.  It resonated with me.  Looking up the definition of it in preparation for this post I noticed that it’s meaning that I originally came across has been lost to me.  I was happy to come across this page on the net.
Sabi by itself means "the bloom of time." It connotes natural progression -- tarnish, hoariness, rust -- the extinguished gloss of that which once sparkled. It is the understanding that beauty is fleeting. The word's meaning has changed over time, from its ancient definition "to be desolate" to the more neutral "to grow old." By the thirteenth century, sabi's meaning had evolved into taking pleasure in things that were old and faded.
I’ve always appreciated the patina of old things.  I’m sure that has come about from growing up around my mom who collected antique furniture.  When she couldn’t find or afford something that was to her taste she would find a reproduction of it instead.  Her style is a white washed Louis XIV kind of thing.  I’m still not sure what my own is-a cross between wandering gypsy meets steampunk who aspires to sleek modern.
The Magnolia Pearl

Whatever my style is I’m learning to get over not having perfection in my life.  Perhaps I’ve gone too far over the other side in my relaxed relationship with housekeeping.  I do put my time in, but I’m not driven to have everything done in order to enjoy other activities.
It’s impossible to do all the things we ‘should’.  It’s taken me a long time to find some middle ground between being a Martha and a Mary.  There are many things that I want to be better at and housekeeping isn’t one of them.  I have the basics down and now I want to move on from dreaming about honing other skills to actually doing them so I can be more proficient at them.  It’s the same drive I had when my children were younger and it was important for me to keep them on a schedule and our home functional.
There is a part of me that feels guilty about this.  I have to remind myself that right now I do have the time and opportunity to pursue these dreams of mine.  As much as I would like to revisit those times when my children were younger, I know in my heart that I have reached that point in my life where change is inevitable and that I need to change along with it.  So when I look in the mirror and study my wrinkles magnified at 50 times normal, and see the wear and tear that my teenagers put our  home through I tell myself “Wabi Sabi”.  It is the beautiful life.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother’s Day

On Being A Mom
To my oldest son I was Mommy until one day when he was five it changed to Mom. My daughter called me Mama. Now it is Mom. I don't remember when she stopped calling me Mama. My youngest son has always called me Mom.
I don't miss being Mommy, but it sure hurt the day my son quit calling me that. I do miss being called Mama. It hurt when my youngest only called me Mom. Right now I'm just thankful that I am one.
My daughter says that she doesn't want to be one. Right now I don't want her to be one either. Someday I hope she will be blessed with children. Someone has to be around to mess up her stuff, slam her doors and have mood swings to the moon and back.
Evie, Josh and Christopher
Evie, Josh and Christopher 2008
Day to day is routine. It's the big things that make me grasp for my kids and find my love for them spilling over.
I can distinctly remember when they were all babies doing things and telling myself that I would never forget those moments. I can't for the life of me remember those particular moments, I simply remember the strong desire never to forget them. I regret not keeping a journal so I could look those things up. The journal of my heart remembers them-even if it is just a warm feeling.
Sometimes I find myself dating a time period when the kids were younger by what gaming system we owned at the time. Singular-we had more control back then. We are now in the plural era of gaming systems and gadgets.
My Mom
She’s always just been Mom to me.  I knew a few people growing up who called their parents by their first name.  I found it strange and a bit disturbing.  I found her to be amazing-and I still do.  She is one of those women who can chat on the phone, cook dinner and cut your hair at the same time.  Back then our kitchen phone line was stretched long to enable her to keep busy while talking.  She loves having a cordless phone now.  I can’t imagine what she could have done with an earpiece.  My mom was and still is to some extent, a busy blur.  If I needed something, or had a question I learned quick enough just to stand still and she was sure to zip by at some point.Mom

There are few things I know of that she won’t tackle on her own.  I’ve known her to re-do a few things contractors did because the work was not up to snuff.  She always cooks.  She doesn’t like spending money on eating out.  I love her crazy money ways.  She is very thrifty, and is only thrifty so she can splurge on other items.  Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but it always seems to work out in the end.  She will make do with an item and even spend considerable time and effort to make it right only to get rid of it in a flash when she finds that special something that she was trying to recreate.  She shops by unit price and if that means buying eight bottles of Halston to get the better deal-then so be it.  When she told me about it I had to ask her how long did she think her stash was going to last?  She’s in her 70’s and I was trying to be delicate.  She informed me that it makes a great room deodorizer.  Now I’m not quite sure what the unit price of a room deodorizer is, but I suspect that she wouldn’t pay the same unit price for one.  It works for her and her home smells divine.  I hope she is still around to buy another eight bottles when she runs through this current stash.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tying Up Loose Ends

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I think this is going to be one of my weeks of rounding up almost finished projects around my home and completing them.  It’s time to make some forward progress before school lets out. 
I only have a few cabinet doors to finish to complete that portion of my kitchen.  I will then be able to start (at some point) the rest of my tiling job.  I’d really like to throw in the four cabinets from my laundry area and get them pushed through as well.  I have been avoiding thinking about that area.  I didn’t want to disrupt getting laundry done along with preparing meals.  I really need to add those into the mix just so I can have some continuity.
With the changes that have gone on in my kitchen I wanted to change out some of the lighting.  I have some ideas for what I want, and have been trying to coordinate the old light that I already had taken down once before.  I’m really loving this light.light I’m already 1/2 done with my old light fixture that I would like to coordinate with this one.  I just need to have hubby rewire it and hang it for me.  My part is to finish the drum shade I would like to put around it.  I found a couple of great tutorials to follow, with my own modifications.  Here is my light that I am hoping to get hung up this weekend complete with shade.

My hope is that I can get an effect close to this light that I love the look of, but was disappointed with the reviews given it.
I’m telling myself if I can push through the cabinets and this light fixture I’m ordering the first one next payday!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gardening-The Big Box

May 2011
I just haven’t gotten the gardening bug this year.  I don’t know if it’s because of the mild winter, or that we busted our bums getting stuff done last year.  I think it’s because Target closed their plant section.  I made weekly trips buying plants and garden d├ęcor.  I rarely make it there anymore.  No incentive.Our local high school and garden club have a fund raiser every year selling plants that the kids in the agriculture group grow.  It’s a good deal and the plants are healthy and do well.  We chose not to bother with it this year.  I’m just hoping the perennials do well.  I just need to get out there and get a handle on the weeds and grass growing in my garden beds.
We bought this house from an avid gardener.  I inherited 68 pots of plants in the backyard alone.  Beautiful plants like Hibiscus.  I know there were  68 in the backyard because every time there was a hurricane we moved them into the garage.  I think they may have done better left alone, but we were worried about the wind carrying them through someone’s window.  Over the years I have gotten rid of all of them.  The pots were made of plastic that deteriorated easily.  I had mixed feelings about getting rid of them, but it was a daily chore getting them watered.
Hurricane Ivan changed our landscape permanently.  I’m thankful the damage wasn’t more severe, but the aftermath was a few years into the making.  We lost a large oak tree that shaded a good portion of our yard and deck.  There was a beautiful garden bed that butted off the the t box (we have a golf course in our backyard).  They had put it there to help manage the drainage issues in that area.  After Ivan all the plants slumped forward in the bed.  I tried unsuccessfully several times to make it right.  The golf course also changed things up a bit for us as well.  They decided to cut down the hill the t box was on to make the course more difficult.  They ended up burying a good portion of two flower beds in the process.
may10 2010
Prepping the old bed 2010
may10 475
The slope we had to deal with
I had this great idea to re do the garden beds into raised garden beds.  There are three distinct beds in our backyard and all three were made up of various materials.  I didn’t mind that part at all, but I figured if we were going to put the time and effort into it we may as well have some continuity along the way.  As with all our DIY efforts the last box was constructed the best.  Trial and error and dealing with slopes and such.
Flowers 001
Pre stain and dirt-I had to test some flowers though.
We basically used pressure treated wood.  In the process of building the larger box (it ended up 26’x8’-we actually cut the length down from the original bed) we decided to make it tiered.  I also wanted better access to it from our side-so we put in some stairs in the middle.  I’m not fond of sitting on the ground down here so my husband added wood along all the edges for seating.  I was extremely happy with the final results we achieved, although the six truck loads of topsoil and I believe one load of compost and manure was back breaking work.  We had some mishaps.  We had strengthened the  boards we used for the sitting area thinking that it looked like a great place to walk on if you were a kid.  I’m thankful we did that because not a week later the golf course hooked it with their mower.  Not too much damage, but it isn’t as square as it was before.
May2 2010 013
It took some backtracking to layer in some concrete pads to
stabilize the bird bath.  May 2010

If you like this post you may also enjoy:
New Trellis and Steps
Big Box Update
Comments are appreciated and welcomed!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Time On My Hands

I am currently taking an art journal class online and a great art technique class that is also online.  After a discussion with my husband about having too much time on my hands it was suggested that maybe I should take a class...or something.  Ahem.  I'm not one for getting out of the house much.  I am a dedicated homebody.  Online appeals to me, especially anything to do with art.

Kathryn and my new grandson Finley
I have found myself a little at loose ends for a couple (four) years now.  I'm a new grandma to boot, and sadly he lives on the other side of the country.  I'm thankful for a daughter- in-law who faithfully posts pictures and videos on Facebook.

I haven't been faithful to God much lately either.  I've been going to weekly bible studies to jump start me back on track.
I'm tired of being restless with no focus.

I had a part time job for three years.  I worked as a courier for a local hospital system.  I really loved the job for the most part.  I had the best boss I have ever had and great co-workers.  It was classified as PRN-hospital lingo for as needed.  I filled in for four other couriers when they took time off.  I thought at the time it would be a great first job back into the workforce.  I loved the feeling of playing hooky.  When I was working I was playing hooky from home and when I was home I was playing hooky from my job.  As things have been going everywhere else with this economy there was some downsizing also going on there.  My boss lost her position as a manager, as well as one of the full time couriers.  It became a stressful environment to work in, especially since I didn't know what was going on most of the time.  My old boss still works there and I know she is happy to be out of management.  I really need to go back and visit with everyone.  I thought it would be best to quit and focus on finding a full time job.  It just didn't happen.  I felt lucky to go on a couple of interviews.

That was a year ago.  After failing to find any job I once again put the focus back on my family.

He's growing up quick!
I'm hoping by taking this new class, focusing on God and starting this blog I can find my balance again.  I had a preacher tell me once that the older you get the faster time flies.  I'm finding that this is a true statement.  With one out of the house, one in high school and my youngest in middle school I have a feeling that grand baby of mine is going to be grown up before I see him again.  It's time for me to not have so much time on my hands.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Current Obsession

My current obsession is my new Silhouette Cameo.  I had seen the Cricut while perusing my local craft stores.  I never got into buying die cut machines.  I fell away from scrapbooking when my mom was sick.  My kids got into my stash and continually kept ruining things when I was out of town.  It's hard to get back into a hobby when your stuff has been pillaged.  I loved the idea of it all, but I just didn't want to buy into all the cartridges and continued added expense of it.  I kept seeing other blogs feature this machine and offer giveaways for it.  I was intrigued when I saw the demos of it cutting fabric, vinyl, and transfer paper.  So I did what I normally do when I want to check something out.  I found it on Amazon and read the reviews.  There is a great review on there from a non scrapbooker.  I showed hubby and he said it look like a great tool.  The magic word *tool*. 
We are wannabe tool hoarders.  We have our fair share, but we lack in all the really cool tools.  So I went for it and it has been one of the best purchases I have ever made.  I downloaded the software before my *tool* was even shipped.  I would say overall the design software is fairly user friendly.  I did take a class on Jessica Sprague to help me fully understand what this thing can do.  It was the second one in the series for the Silhouette.  Many useful tips on how to design on your own.  I probably should take the first class and see what I missed out on, but I'm too busy right thinking of things I need to make with it.  My daughter is afraid I'm going to cover everything in cute vinyl sayings....as if!

Awkward before photo
One of the things that pushed me over the edge of buying one is my front door surround.  Last summer I had painstakingly hand cut out stencils for the little windows.  I then painstakingly painted my designs.  I say painstakingly because I chose to go the intricate route.  I'm not sure it was worth the effort I put into it.  During a spurt of cabinet priming I decided I may as well paint my front door white.  Why not get a little more done before I washed out my paintbrush?  Why bother taping off my windows when I'm an expert at cutting in?  That lasted about a minute until I slopped some primer on my intricate stenciling job.  I thought to myself no big deal-I can do it over again.  Too many paint fumes I guess.  When I got around to finally scraping off my windows (don't ask) I remarked to my husband how *nice* it was to see outside those tiny little windows.  He agreed (we've been married long enough for that). 
Then Cameo came on the scene.  After much thought I decided to go with black vinyl.  I'm happy with the results, and it was so much easier with this machine.  ~Dramatic~ after photos:
Top of the front door from the outside
Side windows

My cool personalized computer vinyl


Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Kitchen Part 2

After fixing my walls and finally getting them painted we hit a stopping point.  We had a family issue that was involved so the kitchen sat partially painted for about a year.  When I say partially painted I mean the kitchen was painted and it stopped at the connecting points to the living room. 

The Living Room as it looked during our house hunting
The living room has (present tense) a coordinating border to match the former kitchen wallpaper.  The border is not (thank you Jesus) glued directly to the drywall.  It does have the properties of the backing paper not wanting to release from the wall.  In another *testing* area I found that some spackle used along the edge of the border sanded down smooth along with the Zinnser Shieldz used over all of it was and is my best option for dealing with that future problem.

My next project was to paint the cabinets.  I would decide to do them and then change my mind.  I would then see another glorious after photo on a blog and want to tackle them again.  I finally decided on using the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit.  I was so happy with the performance of the Zinsser Shieldz, which is also made by Restoleum, that I thought I couldn't miss.  Well I did miss.  It just did not work for me.  At first I thought it was the deglazing product they provided so I bought another brand.  I worked with it for a day, but it just did not work out for me. 

Another picture from our house hunting trip

What I finally found that worked for me were these products.  Krud Kutter is the best product out there in my opinion for cutting grease.  I can only find it in the paint section of my big box stores.  I used that stuff straight and rinsed it off.  I then followed that with a cleaning with vinegar.  I read about Sherwin Williams PrepRite ProBlock bonding primer online.  People were using it to paint laminate countertops, laminate cabinets and more.  I thought it ought to work out great on wood cabinets.  It does-it went beyond my expectations.  I haven't had any issues with it not sticking to my glossy finished cabinets.  I then used Glidden which is my paint of choice.  I also used a sampler can of brown paint and a can of glaze.  It's the right proportions-a no brainer which is right up my alley.  I still have a few cabinets and drawer fronts to go.  I did my kitchen in stages so we could still kinda function like a family.  I kinda got sidetracked tiling a backsplash in 1/2 of my kitchen, but that's another post!  The dramatic 1/2 done after :
My mom would *cringe* if she knew I published 1/2 done!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Kitchen

My ongoing DIY list is long.  The biggest item to be finished is my kitchen.  So many things relied on another thing to get done first.  My kitchen is open to my living room.  The previous owner had done a nice job tying in the kitchen, living room, and dining room.  I was okay with it for a long time.  I was having too much fun playing outside and dodging hurricanes to take much notice.  My mom also had a bout with breast cancer and I spent a lot of time heading up to Tennessee to help her out.
Close up of the busy, busy wallpaper
I had been cleaning up the kitchen and once again the wallpaper started peeling up on me.  I was getting tired out getting out the Elmer's glue to tack it back down.  Most of it was secure, except for a few seams that kept popping up on me.  All I knew is that I did NOT want to strip wallpaper.  I don't have any readily available before pictures that are great.

The dining area from a house hunting trip

I knew this because I had already gone round one in the master bathroom.  Our fixtures were-some still are-the ceramic type that are embedded in the drywall.  The toilet tissue holder fell out one day and smashed into several pieces.  It left a gaping hole in the drywall.  The master bathroom had a wallpaper that I was not fond of at all.  Alternating six inch wide stripes of hunter green and white.  I could see where there was one wallpaper on top of another.  I bit the bullet and got out my stripping tools.  It was a disaster.  The first layer was adhered directly to the drywall.  No paint.  No primer.  Needless to say there was substantial damage to the walls.

Back to the kitchen.  I decided on a whim to pull out the refrigerator and *test* an area there.  There was of course a first layer of wallpaper adhered directly to the drywall with no paint and no primer.  However it came off easily.  I thought sweet-this is do able.  Before I knew it I was in the middle of stripping off the wallpaper with no idea or plans on where to go from there.  As I started working my way around I hit some tough spots.  Ever so often when my husband came home from work I would look at him pleading for help.  He became very effective of ignoring me and my looks. 

Thankfully there was better information on the web than when I was doing my bathroom and I found a great product that helped me in the areas where the drywall paper tore off.  Zinsser Shieldz is actually a wallpaper primer, but it is a great product to use to help repair drywall damage.  After filling and smoothing the drywall, prime the areas where the patches are with the Zinsser Shieldz.  It toughens up the patches AND seals it so your paint job goes on smooth.  Beware of it slumping on you.  Thin coats are best, and keep your eye on it.  Everywhere it is blue was that lovely double layer of wallpaper.

I have two more bathrooms where the special *double wallpaper adhered directly to the drywall* technique was used.  I really need to revisit the job I did in the master bathroom as well, but I need to get the rest of my kitchen done first.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Welcome To My Ongoing *Bucket List*

Kathryn and Joshua
Hi!  My name is Natalie.  I've been a stay at home mom since 1991.  My oldest son has left the nest and started a family of his own. 
I have one daughter in high school, and my youngest son is in middle school.  When people ask me what I do my knee jerk reaction is to tell them that I do nothing.  The truth is that although I don't bring home a paycheck I do bring a dollar value with the projects I get done around my home.  I don't DIY all the time.  I putter around from project to project.

For those of you who DIY some may understand my method.  Some things take time.  Some things take more money.  Some things get put on the back burner until whatever is holding it up loosens it's grip. 

My mom on the other hand is one of those DIYers who doesn't stop until the job is done.  She will work through the night.  I have known her to work through 100 degree weather.  Now that she is in her 70's she has slowed down some.  I think it's due to the fact that she has run out of projects.  She is one of my inspirations in life.  It's why I like to say that my DIY list is my bucket list!

Roger, Evie and Christopher
My husband puts up with me and all my ideas.  Most of the time he is on board...as long as the Cubs or the Steelers aren't playing.  Beyond that he likes to take it easy.  Usually in pace with our budget.

Unfortunately I have the tendency in those lag times to lose focus and find other activities that pull me away.

I'm originally a Wyoming girl.  Now I have the blessing of living in Lower Alabama.  Although I do miss my mountains, I do not miss the wind or snow.  The heat and humidity do get to me-especially if I want to work outside.  The big down side for my is that I've lost my internal clock for inside jobs and outside jobs.  Winter used to mean heading inside for baking, knitting, sewing and all of those great winter time activities to be enjoyed with a hot cup of tea in front of a good movie or fire.  Now I find myself in the summer weather heading inside for AC relief and cold iced tea.  After 8 years of living down here I still haven't adjusted all the way.

I haven't really decided a focus for this blog.  I enjoy a variety of things.  I'm just going by the seat of my pants and see where I end up.