Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving, I do have A LOT to be thankful for.

Despite my last post, which might make me seem really depressed, perhaps non-functional. (Which at times I think applies.) I actually still have that “other me” that is still going strong and really happy about stuff. I’ve gotten a lot done lately. And I have so, so, so much I am grateful for these days, and it’s piled on even more recently. (Warning Long Post Ahead.)

So with being excited about Christmas, I got to wanting to decorate. But I figured I’d sign up for some Thanksgiving decor first. I’ve recently bought a large roll of brown paper which I plan to use for wrapping paper. (Part of my minimalism kick. I think it’s a perfect meeting for practicality, form and function. You can do some seriously cute wrapping with brown paper, and you can use it for ever single occasion. And then you don’t have to store TONS of paper any more. Just one roll. And you get to be creative more often. I feel it’s a win.) So I used this brown paper to add a little Thanksgiving love to our home. (I plan to store it in a file folder when I’m done for next year.)

In the family room I printed out some leafs shapes and traced and cut them out and strung them up on our Fireplace. It’s cute, but marginally underwhelming. I’ll probably figure out something more to add to it next time.

I really like the living room mantel. It turned out great. I used this printable to print the letters and then added some brown paper behind to beef it up a little. And the flower is a few coffee filters fluffed up and sewed together. It’s all hung up with clothes pins I already had.
In the eating area I added these to our wreath for the moment.

And on our chalkboard doors I wrote out the definition of “Thankful" and “Appreciate."

I’m always awed when I look up word definitions of words I use, and feel like I know really well. Because usually it changes how I feel about the words.

I’ve deeply struggled with the idea of being “thankful” since that last pregnancy.
The whole “1,000 Gifts” phenomenon so regularly presented to me as a solution to my pain.
I felt so terribly sick that I honestly had zero access to my brain any more. I only had access to sensations in my body. So the idea that being thankful would help me through this only made me feel deep failure. I couldn’t think and if I tried to my brain just said “Oww. This is horrible."
So I started hating the words associated with “Thankfulness.”
I stopped thinking of what the words meant, and started just reeling away from in guilt and irritation.

So then when I decided to decorate with these words I figured, hey I better know what I’m plastering all over my house. Especially since I felt incompatible with them.

When I searched the word “Thankful" into Google the first thing that it pulled up was,
“Pleased and relieved.”
{jaw drop}
Um yep -- “relieved" sure as heck applies currently. I didn’t know that was a part of the definition.
I can be pleased and relieved!
(Even if I’m looking forward to being more relieved later on when my body is further removed from the experience.)

And even when I was pregnant -- and not pleased, glad, or relieved…. I could be (was) aware (and attempting to be appreciative) of a benefit.

Sometimes you can’t really appreciate something in the middle of it. Sometimes hindsight’s gotta kick in for that one. It’s nice when it doesn’t take that long -- but sometimes you just cannot fully know all the implications in the middle of it.

Anyway, seeing these definitions gave me some soul soothing relief because it took the idea of being thankful from this idea I had that it was a great big idealistic emotion of exploding ethereal joy, and brought it down to a level I actually can, and do, achieve.

Which makes me more grateful because it feels like grace.

In more house decor news. I got so tired of my stairs I finally did something about it. These are our temporary stairs until we get around to fixing our haunted looking entry way. 

Initially it made sense to me to paint the construction treads black -- in effort to make them look like stairs. Only once I did it didn’t ever look right to me. And then it turns out that our gross-drywall sheds oldness flakes (like dandruff for walls) which shows up terribly on the black. They NEVER looked clean. Maybe 30 mins of it after scrubbing them down. (The walls won’t do that once we get them all prettied up.)

But what I really didn’t like was how bold the stairs looked. It was like a shouted invitation to check out how scary the walls next them are. “HEY LOOK OVER THIS WAY!!!” “ALL YOUR ATTENTION OVER HERE!"
It finally dawned on me that I didn’t need to go buy any paint to fix this! I had tons of left over wall color paint for this area. (I bought more because I thought I was going to paint the tall walls with it, which I am not. So I was annoyed to have paid for paint I didn’t think I’d use.) So as soon as that idea all came together I was in paint cloths. I pained every other step (so you can still go up them), for two days. And then I touched up the white risers the next day because they were looking really bad in person.

So much fresher!

I don’t feel like this is the kind of thing that shows in pictures the way it feels in real life.
But in real life this makes me feel very good.
The entry way is still gross. But the stairs kinda just mellow away and that gives your eyes a chance to look towards the less scary walls.
It also draws less attention to the fact that the drywall is just a raw edge at the end of the stairs. (Who even knows why?)
And any of the “wall dandruff” (wow that sounds gross) won’t be so visible anymore.

I’m really happy I did this semi-time consuming little task, because I want to hang some Christmas garland on the banister and this will feel a lot better to me now. Time well spent in my book. Even if it’s temporary and still kinda weird. Better is good!

In other news. (I did this a few weeks ago now, but didn’t have the chance to show you.) I did the fabric, spray adhesive, roller blinds trick in the girls room. And I LOVE IT!
It’s hard to get good pictures of it because the light messes with things by the very nature of the placement of these. But in person this is adorable.
(I’ve yet to take the curtain brackets off the wall. oops.)
The roller still rolls. To get it up, you kinda gotta help push up just a little instead of how it used to just super fast suck itself up. But that’s fine.
It’s really cute in person. It’s kinda like a wallpaper-fix without the wallpaper. And in a smaller portion, so your eyes don’t get too full of pattern. And the fact that we roll them down at night, and up during the day makes them feel interesting all the time to me.

This really is the prefect solution for this room right now. The furniture right in front of the windows, plus young kids, it just makes so much more sense than curtains. (And I could always later curtains over this too. Which would be wild, but fun.)
Now I just have to figure out the wall decorations in here.

Moving on. THE TABLE!
It’s painted! I LOVE IT!
Before/ During the painting

It was at this stage where I was glad I did not opt for a wood refinishing for the top, in conjunction with painting the bottom (any color.) I know it would look different than this exactly, but I seriously did not approve of this look, on this table, for me.

Here’s a before (sorta) and a wet paint comparison.

I used Rustolem oil based paint in Black Satin.
You KNOW I used oil based on my table! If I was only allowed to use oil based paint on one piece of furniture, it would be my kitchen table. I see NO way for latex paint to be a good idea on a often used kitchen table. I kinda die a little inside when I see all these pins sharing the right way to paint a table and it’s all latex. It’s going to chip, peel,  and/or feel tacky. It gets sorta better if you put water based poly over it. But even then -- oil based is hands down, so much better. PLEASE, if you paint a kitchen table, use oil based. Yeah it’s smelly -- but it’s the only way it’s gonna be worth it for your table. You have to wipe it down like three times a day!

For my table, I wound up doing I think three or four coats of paint on the top. Why? I wanted to let the paint act as filler for some imperfections. I tried to sand out some water rings and general lacquer wear and tear out of the top. But I don’t think I was aggressive enough. After the first coat of paint it was clear as day where those imperfections were. But the more coats I put on, the more the paint did a self leveling kind of thing and made the top a lot better looking. I can still see the spots, but I’m ok with them. And I don’t think they will stand out to people who aren’t looking for them.

Anyway here’s the table dry and back in the room. 
Heart eyes emoji.
NO regrets on this project. My emotions for this table have gone from meh to serious affection.
Now I just have to get moving on the chairs. (I can’t wait to get even one coat of paint on one just so I can set them next to each other and see how it feels.)

I was going to start on the chairs. (I really hope to have them (most of them) done by Christmas. It’s the first year we will be having Christmas at our house. And my mom just has passed down our very special china to me, and we are going to use it then. So I’m excited to have the room looking fancy -- hopefully. The dishes are cut glass and amber colored -- they are gonna look so nice against the black table!

But after I got the table painted. I had another assignment. (Couldn’t start on the chairs quite yet.)
Blake (and a friend of his with some fancy machinery) created this lap steel guitar. It’s really cool. But since it’s unique there’s no way to buy it a case. And so when Blake would travel with it he would just wrap it in a blanket -- which is no good. I told Blake I could probably sew it a gig bag.
Blake was really excited about that. So I hustled to get it done before Thanksgiving.

I had no idea what I was doing. And I just kinda made it up as I went along. But it turned out really well. I wish it was a bit more polished looking on the top -- but for a novice’s experiement I’ll be proud of it.

I made that white foam bed for it, then traced the bottom onto hardboard that Blake cut out for me. And layered that, so it had stability on the bottom and safe cushioning around it.
Then I sewed black fleece to set into the inside. And used black duck cloth for the outside.
I added handles out of nylon straps.
The pocket kinda annoyed me because I forgot to put it on at the right time, so I had to take some of it apart to get it on.

The zipper was the hard part of this thing. Getting it right and through the sewing machine wasn’t easy. That’s the part I wish looked smoother -- but oh well -- it works.
I had no way to get the top panel sewed onto the bottom box part with the sewing machine. So I hand stitched that straight line together.
Blake is thrilled with it. So that makes me happy. And it’s kinda fun having something so unexpected under my belt.

And one more exciting improvement happened this week.
I was poking around craigslist, as I like to do regularly. I just peek around at anything. And I saw this stainless steel electric range. As you may remember, when we bought the house we upgraded the fridge and dishwasher (basically because we had to -- they were soooo gross and smelly) but left the stove as is because it worked. And my long term goal is to get a gas line back there and get a gas stove. I didn’t want to spend money on an electric stove.
BUT….after two years this creamish/whiteish stove had just gotten way to ugly to me. I was just getting irritated looking at it. If it had been white I would have been fine, but it was a nondescript off-white that I really hadn’t see before.
I had a goal of getting a white-white one for the time being -- because I NEVER see stainless steel stoves in our location on craigslist. And I imagined if I did they would still be expensive.

WELL…this weekend I saw one! The first one I’d every seen. I wasn’t really looking for one. But I saw it and jumped to email them. It was still available! 
They were selling it with an overhead microwave (didn’t want to separate) for $275. 
I said “Yes please.”
We picked it up. We sold the microwave for $50. And then we sold our stove for $150 no problem.
So in my view of things, this stove cost me $75.

And it’s $75 well spent. It is a major upgrade to our old one. It’s got tons of features our other one did not. The oven is convection. The way the oven racks are set up is way nicer. The burners are quick boil. And generally it’s just nicer to use all around.
And then of course there’s the beauty aspect.
It’s got a scratch on the front and a dent on the side (where you can’t see it.) But still -- glorious.

I kinda just treat craigslist like yankee swap. I just keep selling what I don’t want, to buy better fits for us. It’s super rewarding. It’s not always a fast process. (I’ve had my feelers out for two years for this stove.) But sometimes that makes it all the sweeter. I think I love this stove more because of the wait.

Ok I’ll end my long rambling.

I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving!

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