Latest Projects: Burlap & Lace Wreath and Distressed Bedroom Furniture

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Craft supplies are expensive. That’s not the point of this post. Just a point I want to iterate…and then reiterate. Craft supplies are expensive. Okay, now on to the point…

Adriana and I spent the day out shopping yesterday for Christmas craft and gift supplies. I got her her own Christmas little tree to decorate in hopes that it’ll dissuade her from touching the big one too much. We’ll see.

I was too eager to wait for the weekend to start anything so I made a burlap wreath last night…

My Burlap & Lace Wreath

My Burlap & Lace Wreath

I decided to add them to my Etsy shop too so if you’re interested you can order here.

Another project I’ve been wanting to accomplish at the new house was our bedroom furniture. We bought a nice cherry suite years ago and it was beautiful when our room was full of amber and red colors but when I changed the decor to a more natural palette and added teal to the mix, the cherry furniture just seemed to clash. I had an idea of what I wanted to do and set out to get chalk paint. I was at several stores searching for Annie Sloan paint before finally giving up. Both Home Depot and Michael’s now carry a brand of chalk paint called Americana Decor so I decided to give that a try instead.

After prepping a pot roast and tucking her into the oven to cook all day, I set in and started with the nightstand. I didn’t take an actual before picture so you’ll just have to go with what I could find lol.

I think it turned out pretty good.

And here’s the big dresser.

So much brighter!

Like I said, it wasn’t bad before but was just too dark and red for the bedroom now. I was going to sand and stain the top a color like the floor but The Hub liked the whole thing the same color so that’s what I did…

I love it!

Nightstand details

Nightstand details

The color I used for this project was ‘Whisper’. After applying the first coat I spot checked for areas that needed a second coat. I wanted to let some of the original darkness come through to aid in the weathered look so I didn’t do a full second coat overall. Once the second coated areas were dry, I applied the clear wax and then went over and gently sanded some areas (like corners and edges) with a fine-grit sand paper. From there I added a bit of dark wax to some of the distressed areas and then just sealed them all over again with clear wax.

I couldn’t be happier with the way the pieces turned out. And as far as the paint, I have no complaints. It was great to work with, dried quickly and seems pretty tough once waxed. If you’ve never used chalk paint before, just be warned that it dries very quickly so you want to keep moving and move steadily (especially when painting a larger surface) so it doesn’t start to dry on you and leave streaks or unevenness where you left off). Of course if you’re applying more than one coat then you can always blend it back in with your additional coat(s).  I am always leery when painting a piece without sanding and priming first but only time will tell. Although another good thing about this distressed look is that even if it gets a little more beat up than my intended distressing, it probably will only continue to make the piece look good. Win/win! ;)

I have a wooden jewelry armoire that I am planning to paint a more vibrant color soon too so stay tuned for that!

:)

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Privilege or Principle

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Since the decision came down in Ferguson the news has been on fire…much like the city itself after rioters ransacked it and set it ablaze. Naturally everyone has an opinion though it all boils down to one thing: Other than a handful of actual witnesses, no one truly knows what happened that day. What we can, and must reside our faith in is that a grand jury reviewed all of the evidence and witness testimony and ultimately decided that Officer Wilson was not guilty. Like it or not, this is how our country operates.

Regardless of what happened that day, a whole new racial storm has erupted and is sending everyone in a tizzy. Again, everyone has an opinion and of course, I’m not segregated from those that do. But what I am most upset by are those of the parents trying to find ways to explain this to their children and more specifically, the parents who are taking the “white privilege” approach. For those that don’t already understand this term, it basically means that, as a white person, you should be aware that you are afforded an “easier life” than others simply because you are white.

This is where my brain gets boggled.

First of all, and I think any parent would agree, children don’t know racism until it’s taught to them. They don’t know they are any different than anyone else they see or play with. Hell, it takes them a couple years to even realize when they are looking at themselves in a mirror! So you think that shaming them for their color in some way is going to bring forth compassion for others OF color?! This is the same problem that parents of color bring forth by telling their children that they are different from white children. This is only breeding segregation and hatred and, ultimately, more racism. So my child is white. Does that mean I should “shame” her so she feels less valuable because she is technically (according to some schmuck, anyway) already “privileged”? Then she can grow up and not be an achiever of much but can at least take some sort of consolation knowing that she is “more privileged” than a black person? Bullshit. Simply put, that’s bullshit.

My child is no more or less privileged than any Black, Hispanic, Indian or Asian she will ever go to school or work with. She has exactly the same number of hours in each day as every great person  in history did. She has the exact ability to make life decisions each and every day just like everyone else. There are an abundance of celebrities and leaders and great, powerful minds (many also of color by the way) who came from nothing, from suffering, from poverty and, yes, even from slavery. My daughter is no different.

My grandparents weren’t slave owners from the south. They came here from Europe in the aftermath of World War II where they knew hardship. Their families experienced concentration camps and torture and slavery and poverty. Real poverty.  Collecting cigarette butts discarded by soldiers so papa could roll a secondhand cigarette from the left behind tobacco. Stealing shoes from the dead soldiers because they had none on their frozen feet. No government checks each month or insurance or food stamps to help get by. Poverty. Unending and uncaring, poverty. People were branded and shaved and tortured and experimented on like rats in a science lab. Killed and thrown in piles and discarded like garbage. And then they came here and became law-abiding citizens and still endured hardships and prejudices because they were different. Because they couldn’t talk the language well or couldn’t earn the same amount of money that other Americans did.

So yes, my “white” child is no different than any black child she will ever encounter whose families experienced oppression or difficulties in life. The black children in her school, regardless of their home life or history, will have the same potential for learning she does. (Though to be honest, they will probably have have even better scholarship opportunities than she will just solely based on their color…I mean, I doubt they will be handing out college scholarships to her simply because she’s “white”). But i’ll be damned if I let that define her or limit her somehow from being able to make something positive or successful for herself in life. I won’t “white shame” her into thinking she’s already over-privileged and doesn’t deserve every bit of the chance any other person would. The only thing that will accomplish is forcing her to think she is already higher-up than someone of color and create more ignorance and less drive for her to achieve great things in life. And at the same time i’ll be damned if I let her be branded into some group of slave-driving ancestors that she never belonged to simply because she’s “white”. Even if she had and in consideration for all the children out there who did, for the love of God, what would that have to do with HER?! With them? With here and now? With who SHE is? With who THEY are? Let it be a history lesson. Not a present day problem. White or black, we have got to stop making color a handicap.

She will be a woman too so as that “minority” does that mean I should tell her that she just won’t be able to do certain things in life because of her gender? What self-esteem could she have if she is brought up to feel ashamed of being white and a woman. Sure, she may encounter more hurdles as a woman but that won’t stop her from becoming whatever she wants to be if she’s willing to work hard for it. Black, white, yellow, purple; Male, female or freaking mermaid, you can do whatever you set your mind to. This is what parents need to tell their children. Black parents. White parents. Every parent.

Quit forcing our children to focus on their differences. We are ALL different. Can’t anyone see this is the problem? It’s time for parents to step up to the plate and stop forcing indifference and limitations on our children’s potential. They will encounter enough hurdles in life without us adding to them. If you want to prepare them for the world so they can be successful, start by giving them a fair chance, not a hindrance, not a complex, not a color. We choose what we pass down to our children from our pasts which are ALL riddled with difficulties. My grandparents taught us about their difficulties and used it to empower us and teach us that we can come from nothing and be and do whatever we want. That is what parents – black and white – need to be teaching their children. Not to be “victims” their whole life and let it hinder their abilities!!

The simple truth is that the people in Ferguson – black, white, yellow, whatever – are throwing a full-blown temper tantrum. If you’re searching for how to explain this situation to your child, tell them that. Because that is something they can understand. Teach them to behave and be respectful and to stand up for their beliefs appropriately without endangering others or neglecting to follow the laws. Because it’s not a color issue for children until you teach them that. It’s not a matter of privilege with children until you teach them that. Teach them principles; not privileges. We can all achieve greatness regardless of our environments, social status, upbringing, color or gender. If we teach our children from love, to love then all they will grow to know is love. If we teach our children hate and difference, we are only contributing to the problem. We are all one and, like it or not, we are on the same boat here. So if we don’t start paddling together we are just going to continue to get nowhere until we sink.

ferguson-riots Ferguson-burning-flag

As parents we have just got to stop contributing to the problem.

Oh, Ferguson…

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Ferguson is rioting because one life mattered…So logically they are destroying the lives of families and storeowners (in their own town no less) as a way to show a stance for that? I can understand having something happen that totally enrages you. I know the feeling of wanting to beat something (or someone) senseless. Things like that happen every day…To ALL of us. It’s not a pass, however, to throw an adult tantrum and destroy things. Obey the law. Whether or not you think it’s fair, you are obligated to obey it and if you want to change it, vote and rally to get more votes to change it or, take it to court and contest it there. Parents, teach your children that this type of behavior is not acceptable. They can’t grow up thinking it’s okay to torch businesses and homes, beat other people up, steal, shoot each other, and disobey the laws. Teach compassion and self control. You can’t raise your children to believe that it’s okay to disrespect the law and expect them not to face consequences. No one gets a free pass just because they feel they have experienced an injustice. I don’t doubt that racism still exists in this country (from ALL colors) but the media and folks like Mr. Sharpton tend to exploit it and make it worse. They are only breeding more and more hatred. Wisen up!

If only people would realize this!

If only people would realize this!

DIY Headboard

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Nowadays everything is distressed. You buy new furniture to look old. It’s like that oxymoron with the kids and jeans that became main stream years ago. I love the look of weathered, time worn, distressed furniture. Shabby chic, rustic and antiquated all set a charming and often romantic mood to a room. It was one of the things I was looking forward to doing more when we bought our new house project.

One of the few features to the house that was reusable was some old fencing. The previous owner had it shamefully blocking a beautiful view of the back of the property and it was horribly overgrown with weeds. But I knew the moment we took it down what I wanted to do with it…

Voila! Our new headboard! :)

This was before I added the lights. It's cute enough like this but I had some lights in mind...

This was before I added the lights. It’s cute enough like this but I had some lights in mind…

We had to replace a missing board from another panel and added one to each side to box it in so the wiring would be nicely concealed in the back. After a trip to the local home improvement store to buy a couple wall sconces and some wiring so they could be mounted and inconspicuously plugged in behind the headboard, the lights are on (and more importantly, yes, they work)!

The lights on (and working) and, aside from a few accents and pillows, it's done! I originally was going to do some burlap pendants with a message spelled on them but decided this plaque said everything already :)

The lights on (and working) and, aside from a few accents and pillows, it’s done! I originally was going to do some burlap pendants with a message spelled on them but decided this plaque said everything already :)

We have been spending so much time renovating that I haven’t been able to spend any time repurposing. It’s been one thing after another and every time we start to one renovation project it leads to two more and more and more delays. Renovation work is not for the impatient or ill-tempered that’s for sure. It seems nothing goes smoothly. So today I needed this…If not for anything else but to merely maintain my sanity. This was one of the projects I was really excited about.

There’s still some other accents (and accent pillows) I’ll add later but for now it’s a new (and old) headboard that incorporates this house and also us. And what’s even better is it only costed what I have in the lights and wiring. (The sign was a gift from my mama several years ago). I originally planned on spelling out a nice message on a burlap pendant banner across it but for now I think this plaque says it all. :)

There was also some cute white picket fencing that I salvaged and plan on using in our guest room…but that’s a project that’ll have to wait a bit longer. I at least got my fix to hold me over as we continue renovations on the rest of the house.

But stay tuned! ;)

2015 Calendars

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Okay guys, so the holidays are going to be here before you know it and with all the work around this place well, it’s adding up. So….

I’m selling 2015 calendars!

They are 8×11, spiral-bound, wall calendars featuring 12 months (starting January, 2015) with a collage of beautiful photos (taken by yours truly!) on each month.

A beautiful collage will greet you month after month. Each photograph was taken by me and is one of my favorites! :)

A beautiful collage will greet you month after month. Each photograph (taken by yours truly) is one of my favorites! :)

 

Get a jump on your shopping. These would make a great gift. And while you’re at it, get one for yourself too! ;)

You can order them through my Etsy shop here.

I sincerely appreciate it and, for anyone ordering, I hope you enjoy!!

Our Battles

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The whole process from applying for and ultimately buying this house to then renovating both of our homes (one to live in and one to rent out) has been nothing short of stressful. We have faced some insane challenges and continue to pour our blood, sweat and tears into it (along with a great many choice words). There are nights that we are asleep before our head even hits the pillow and mornings we can barely pry our ass out of bed without feeling like we’ll break. I pray for patience and positivity daily.

Today, I had four men in my home installing windows and a front door  (one of the very few tasks we are not doing ourselves). Each of them pleasant but each also facing their own burdens. One was trying to find a solution for his bullied son. One was waiting for the workday to end so he could visit his dad in a nursing home where he’s being cared for after barely surviving a risky surgery. Another was involved in a motorcycle accident last week and isn’t even cleared for physical therapy yet but, because insurance takes a while and bills don’t wait, had to return to work. And then there was the crew leader, whose hair was visibly thinner after his final round of chemo on Tuesday; subsequent to having one of his lungs removed. Having virtually no immune system after the treatment, he was also dealing with bronchitis in his remaining lung. How diverse all the problems were!

I know each of you are probably facing something in your life too – whether big or small…A stressful situation. A bump in the road. A decision you’re having a hard time making. A death of a loved one. Your job. Your house. Your car. Your family. Your addiction. Your bills. Your health…

Every morning I wake up and look out at the sky, breathe and try to prepare myself for whatever the day may bring. Every night I look to the sky, breathe and give thanks for whatever blessings may be found. Today I am thankful for our much-needed, new windows, for white paint and (despite a few new cuts and blisters) that more progress was made and we are all bathed and going to bed in freshly laundered sheets. But more importantly, I am also thankful for perspective and awareness. It is both unsettling and uplifting to know that everyone of us is fighting a battle, but no matter how unique it is or how discouraging it may feel, we aren’t alone. Even though the world seems to be falling apart, we are still “together” on some level. For all of our differences, this is our common ground.

So tonight I am praying again to face the stresses of tomorrow with patience and to be able to end the day with gratitude. I am also praying for those four men I met earlier today and each of their battles. And also for you and yours. May a lightness find its way to whatever is weighing heavily within you.

-Steph

Start and end the day with an attitude of gratitude

Start and end the day with an attitude of gratitude

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Flying the Nest

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A few weeks ago we watched as our robin family returned to the little hawthorn tree in our front yard to build their nest again this year. Mama worked all day building her nest in that tree right outside our bedroom window and created a perfect home for her growing family.

Homemaker - literally

Homemaker – literally

 

All comfy cozy in her new digs

All comfy cozy in her new digs

It wasn’t long before we could see three little beaks bobbing up and down whenever mama and daddy returned home with worms.

Baby birds sure do eat a lot

Baby birds sure do eat a lot

Day by day we watched them grow bigger. It doesn’t take long for babies to grow in the animal kingdom. We dubbed them Mozis, Beezus, and Bishou.

1, 2, 3 little beaks

1, 2, 3 little beaks

Mama & Daddy go back and forth taking turns with meals for the little ones

Mama & Daddy go back and forth taking turns with meals for the little ones

The following week our little baby birds who, just days before were only covered in pin feathers, had their redbreasts and feathers and were venturing out onto nearby limbs. Well, one more than the others anyway. Mozis, who I am guessing was the oldest, was the lookout for mama and sat out on the ledge of the nest while she was away.

Mozis always visible and usually perched on the outside of the nest, Beezus somewhere in between and Bishou nowhere to be seen

Mozis always visible and usually perched on the outside of the nest, Beezus somewhere in between and Bishou nowhere to be seen

Mozis & Beezus growing more curious of the world outside

Mozis & Beezus growing more curious of the world outside

It seemed they each had their own little personalities. Beezus was visible, but only from the neck up. And you would never know Bishou was in there if you didn’t see them at dinner time because it stayed as low in the nest as possible.

My favorite shot of Mozis and Beezus (and Bishou in there but hidden as usual)

My favorite shot of Mozis and Beezus (and Bishou in there but hidden as usual)

And then, on a morning after a terrible storm that had me worried the tree wouldn’t even survive the winds let alone the nest, Mama returned with one final family meal at their home and then it was time. She flew off and left her three musketeers to it. Surprisingly I thought it would be Mozis who flew first since it was the bravest. But it was Beezus that surprised me and took flight first, heading straight across to the neighbor’s front yard.

I never would have guessed the middle one would be the first to fly...

I never would have guessed the middle one would be the first to fly…

And then there were two.

Mozis fluttered up to a higher branch and seemed to watch for Beezus to land safely and get to where it wanted to be and then all of a sudden little Bishou emerged and fluttered down into the yard.

This one chose to stick to the ground

Bishou (finally visible outside of feeding time) chose to stick close to the ground

Flying must have been a little scary for it because it stuck to walking around the neighborhood until it found a good spot to hide.

Bishou making a mad dash across the street and seemingly more like a roadrunner than a robin

Bishou making a mad dash across the street and seemingly more like a roadrunner than a robin

And then there was one. Mozis perched on the highest branch of our little tree. Siblings safe from their landing and mom and dad nearby keeping track of them all.

Mozis on the highest branch watching to make sure the others got somewhere safely

Mozis on the highest branch watching to make sure the others got somewhere safely

One flew over, one flew down and Mozis flew directly up. Up to the very top of our neighbor’s roof.

Mozis, the first born and the last to fly the nest

Mozis, the first born and the last to fly the nest

Mozis may have left the tree last but his flight was by far the most impressive

Mozis may have left the tree last but his flight was by far the most impressive

And then there were none.

Our little nest is empty and our feathered family friends have grown up and are moving to roosts of their own. Mama made a great home for them while they were in it but alas, they outgrew their cozy abode. Funny considering we are doing the exact same thing…

We put an offer in on a foreclosed home a couple months ago and, after tons of paperwork and a long drawn out process with many hands to pass through, we will finally be closing next week! It’s going to take a lot of work just making it livable and ultimately making it ours but I can’t wait to take it on and see what we are able to do with it… (Though I’m sure I’ll be wanting to scream once I’m knee deep in renovations. lol)

I hope our new home is as cozy to us as this one has been and that it provides all that we are hoping for our family until it’s time for our little tulip leave the nest. I’m just thankful that although she eats like a baby bird and is growing up quickly, that at least she doesn’t grow as fast as our three little birds did! So at least we’ll have a while. :)

 

And then there were none. Our little robin family has grown and moved on to larger living quarters. Mama built a sturdy home with a strong foundation that stood up to some pretty gnarly storms that the poor little hawthorne tree barely survived. I hope whoever lives in this house when we move to our new homestead can appreciate our little robin family when they return next year. <3

And then there were none. Our little robin family has grown and moved on to larger living quarters. Mama built a sturdy home with a strong foundation that stood up to some pretty gnarly storms (a couple that the poor little hawthorn tree barely survived itself). I hope whoever lives in this house when we move to our new homestead can appreciate the nest we built here…and our little robin family when they return next year to do it all over again. <3

 

Radio Silence

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I swear Casey Kasem’s voice is tattooed into my memory. Every weekend listening to the music countdown and hearing that iconic voice introduce each song, read requests and dedications and a listener’s story (that usually left me in tears). It’s funny how things like that stick with you. I probably still have countless cassette tapes in storage that have that legendary voice and the top hits of that week on them. What a prehistoric seeming thing to do nowadays when any radio station or playlist you want is just a button away. Do they even make cassettes or tape-players anymore? Either way, music was my life starting at a very young age and DJ’s were a big part of that life for me. I remember all the words to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby” not because I’m a lyrical genius but because of the weekend one of the local DJ’s locked himself in the radio station and played that song over and over for the ENTIRE weekend. It may have gotten annoying after the 48th time hearing it but i’ll never forget it. I made many requests and dedications of my own growing up (though admittedly none for “Ice, Ice, Baby” after that one weekend) and I had some pretty awesome DJ’s to call upon.

It’s easy to take DJ’s for granted – cutting them off to skip to another channel or avoiding them altogether with an iPod playlist. But before the iPod revolution, back when it seemed like it took forever for the album to hit the shelves and you were up at 3:00 am, heartbroken and just needing to hear that song, who did you turn to? When you wanted to surprise someone with a flashback song from spring break during their drive home, who were you gonna call? When you and your girlfriends were laying around with magazines and face-mask, painting toenails or, when you were having a party, who could you count on to give you the perfect music to go along? It was your favorite DJ.

In a way DJ’s were timeless creatures. Forever preserved in the realm of radio. You don’t think of them as everyday people when you were listening to them growing up because you never saw them…They were just “that voice”. That voice that knew just what song to play for you no matter what your mood. The perfect love song. The perfect hate song. The perfect cleaning house song. And the perfect third date song. Songs of loss for all those grieving. Songs of praise and songs of leaving. The DJ’s I grew up listening to and those I listen to today all have special place in my heart. It’s as if they’re all long-time friends. They were there during so many of our special occasions. Back before Pandora hit the scene, DJ’s have been playing all your favorites and injecting their infectious personalities into your life; Taking your requests; Letting you rant (on-air); Helping you prank someone. You spend your weekend trips listening to them; Your morning and afternoon commutes are better when they’re riding along. You laugh and sometimes cry with them and you may even argue with them but no matter what, they’re there for your entertainment. There’s hundreds in every town across America and most will never make it to the “big leagues” of Casey Kasem or his protégées like Ryan Seacrest but they are all famous in their own right. Our secret collaborators – bringing us the songs that we link to so many different times in our life.

So next time you’re channel surfing take a minute to appreciate the voices before that music. The ones that know how to perfectly time their intro before the first words of the song start. The ones that have to listen to your favorite new song 20 times a day even if they don’t like it themselves. The ones who open up and make you laugh and do all they can to make your day better; Who give you pieces of them that become a familiar comfort. And the ones that have ever had to play the entire version of tracks like “Purple Rain” or “Stairway to Heaven” simply because they respected music enough to know not to cut off the song. They’re not just there for traffic and weather.

Thanks to all the voices out there that have brought me good music for the soundtrack to my life and RIP to the man who taught us how to count to 40 – backwards.

RIP Casey Kasem

RIP Casey Kasem

 

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Daddy Gratitude

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Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there – the ones who love the kids of their own and the ones with a big enough heart to love the kids of another. Anyone can be a father but it takes a special person to be a dad.

I have been blessed to have several serve as father figures in my life (and a mother who sometimes had to be both parents) and I am eternally grateful – To God who gave me life and continues to bless that life; To Opa who gave everything to make sure I didn’t feel like I was missing anything growing up, teaching me that practice makes perfect and to never give up. Oh and also for teaching me how to filet a fish perfectly…which came in handy yesterday :) He is missed every single day. To my stepdad who stepped in and took over a job that my real father couldn’t do and always tried to treat me like one of his own brats growing up. From father-daughter dances, to slalom skiing and Disney vacations. And my other stepdad who is a terrific man, father, PaPa and just one of the kindest men I know.

My daughter is lucky to have so many great men in her life too – her grandpas and uncles and most of all, her daddy. I am blessed that my daughter has the best daddy in the world who works hard for his family and always finds ways to spoil his girls. From our kitchen dance-offs to tea parties or just a nap together on the recliner, he has embraced it all and genuinely loves being a daddy. And we sure love him.

Happy Father’s Day!

Children look up to you;  Make sure you give them something to look up for.  -Stephanie Rader, The Write Side of Life

Children look up to you;
Make sure you give them something to look up for.
-Stephanie Rader, The Write Side of Life