Monthly Archives: December 2012

Repurposed Vintage Christmas Tablecloth

As a new bride, I craved vintage.

Not the Avocado Green and Harvest Gold that was in every rental, that wasn’t old enough to be cool yet.

I started buying red-handled kitchen utensils, vintage tins and doilies when I could find them cheap and I had a few extra dollars in my pocket.

There was nothing in my life to feed my desire for tacky décor, except an occasional well-used Country Living magazine at the laundry mat that I would devour page by page with my poverty stricken eyes. There was no internet, blogging or Facebook.  There certainly wasn’t any Pinterest.  I rarely ran into anyone who had my same taste for the chippy and faded items from the past.

I just loved, loved, loved me some vintage. 

I saved my husband’s pocket change until I had enough to justify pushing the stroller a few blocks to the thrift store.  This was back in the day when $1 or $2 could buy several items.  Remembering those prices makes my heart pound. When my husband had a dollar for a can of pop, he would use two quarters and leave the two quarters in his pocket for me.  It was the only time in our marriage where I supported him drinking something that wasn’t good for him.

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I was thrilled to find this beautiful tablecloth in about 1989 and used it for years on my kitchen dinette table.  My centerpiece was usually a vintage glass pedestal bowl with fresh pine branches and red glass Christmas balls.  I loved  creating Christmas magic in my home without spending a lot of money.

The linen was only retired to the closet when we bought a real oak dining room table that was too big.  It hung around for years, because I couldn’t part with it.  It gathered more yellow stains.  After a few years of dreaming about it, I got brave.

I pulled out my trusty Ginghers, not the pair my husband used to cut carpeting,  the pair he bought to replace the pair he used to cut carpeting, and began dissecting before I lost my courage.

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Two panels were cut from the length of the tablecloth, using the printed pattern in the center  as a guide.  When I want to “get ‘er dun” I’m not all picky about perfect measurements. For the bottom, I simply folded the seam up to the bottom of the red border, ironed, and sewed. The valance 12 inches from top to bottom. I left 1/2 inch along the top to make a little ruffle and about 1 inch casing for the tension rod to fit through. 

If you don’t sew, you need to know about Stitch Witchery. It’s iron-on fusible webbing you can use to hem things. It may make the fabric a bit stiff, so you want to use it with heavier items. I didn’t use it here, but I’ve used it even when hemming clothes.

A memory of Christmas Past became a memory of Christmas Present.  I look forward to hanging my valance for all the Christmases Yet to Come.

Wise Men Still Seek Him

Setting up the nativity sets at Christmas always bothers me, just a little. Most come with three Wise Men, two little sheep and one shepherd leaning on a staff. (didja’ sing that to yourself?)

I want lotsa’ shepherds and lotsa’ sheep because they were part of that special party in the barn.

Luke 2
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

The Wise Men weren’t there yet. They don’t arrive until the Lord Jesus is a toddler.  We really don’t know if there were three of them, if they were traveling by camel or donkey or walking. 

We  know they were following The Star.

We know they were willing to leave their homes and seek after the One sent from Heaven.

We don’t  know if they truly believed in the Savior and Messiah as they set out on their journey, or if they came to faith along the way as they read Old Testament prophecies and marveled over the words of the Lord. 

We know when they saw Him, the Christ child, they worshipped.

Matthew 2
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

This year, instead of staging all the Wise Men far away from the manger as if they were still traveling, I  staged my own encouragement.

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This is in my refinished foyer from the beginning of December.

Notice the Wise Men on the bottom shelf are are crouching towards am empty spot?

Wise Men Still Seek Him

I just needed to frame the message these men preach with their diligence in seeking after the Savior.

Lamentations 3:25
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.

Luke 11:10
For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds.

Psalm 22:26
Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever!

May we all be like the Wise Men in 2013 ~

Seek Him…

Find Him…

Praise and Worship Him

The Real Grinch Who Steals CHRISTmas

(Originally blogged December 6, 2010)

I woke up to a new week.

A busy, busy week.

A week filled with wonderful holiday activities we love and never-ending chores we don’t really love. The never ending doctor visits adds its normal light frustration and concern.
This morning, to borrow a phrase from blogger friend Nan, "Christmas threw up in my living room." It’s looked that way for days. I haven’t had a time slot long enough to finish decorating.

My laundry room grew a mountain over the weekend. If it continues at this rate, I may need a professional guide or crampons to conquer it.

My single sox must have eaten all the food in my cupboard before they ran away.

Monday looms like an unfriendly foe in my heart and mind.

But, really, it isn’t just the house and the demands on my life that made me not want to face the day or the week.

Four years ago today, my husband and I lost a child to miscarriage. I had this weird notion that someday I would "get over it." I thought maybe I wouldn’t have the bouts of weeping nobody can enter in. You never "get over it."

The loved ones’ absence, instead of presence, graces every moment, every day and ever celebration, an uninvited guest that refuses to give up their seat around the family table. Sorrow and loss is the real Grinch that wants to steal CHRISTmas and every other moment of joy. The real Grinch can steal something as small as a normal grocery shopping trip, when it ends in tears and a retreat out of the store.

The Lord understands the loss of a child. In Proverbs 30:15-16, He tells us that are four things that NEVER stop their devastation.

"There are three things that are never satisfied,

Four never say, “Enough!”:

The grave,

The barren womb,

The earth that is not satisfied with water—

And the fire never says, “Enough!”

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He compares the loss of a loved one and the emptiness of a womb to the horrific natural disasters of drought and fire. He knows the agony of loss and of suffering.

The treatment for all four is virtually the same. Drought and fire need to be saturated with water from the Heavens. The empty heart and empty womb need to be saturated with Living water from the Heavens.

It’s easy to see the morning as an impossibility to face. I choose to let these many things be the reason I face today and this week with faith and grace, not the excuse to ignore my world.

A quick Word study on "morning" gave me the Living water I need for the drought of my aching heart.

Psalm 5:3
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.

Psalm 59:16
But I will sing of Your power;
Y
es, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.

Psalm 119:147
I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.




This morning, I’m not letting the Grinch of sorrow and loss steal the joy of CHRIST from my life.

I’m seeking His Living Waters to quench the natural disasters of my heart.

 

Help Yourself Hospitality–Hot Drinks

I come from a big family.

My husband comes from a big family.

We had a big family.

When family isn’t around and we’re lonely,
we invite friends over to fill up the house.

In other words,
there can be many people in my house at any given time.

We love having people around,
and enjoy making them feel at home enough to

Help Themselves.

During the winter holidays,
hot drinks are made available on my kitchen counter,
ready for expected and unexpected company.

I like drop-in kinda’ company.
It’s a Midwest thing we love.
It says they like the real me enough to be
willing to throw things off the couch to sit down.

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I start with jars of mini-marshmallows and red-hots.

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I add festive tubs of hot chocolate and hot cider mixes.

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I add one pretty hot pot.

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Mixed all together on a metal tray,
and you have a

Help Yourself Hospitality Center for Hot Drinks.

We normally don’t drink hot chocolate and apple cider
or give my kids marshmallows to eat,
but at the holidays,
there are some rules that are meant to be broken.

Of course, the coffee pot is always on.

Regular coffee is brewed until supper, then we switch to decaff.

The evening meal is called supper if you are from farm country,
because lunch is called dinner,
and lunch is the meal you bring to the farmers in the fields
between dinner and supper.
Lunch can also be a snack between breakfast and lunch,
if ya’ got up really early to work in the fields.

So, if you followed that little rabbit trail,
the order of meals for Midwest farmers goes
breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunch, supper.
Got it?

(See, another trick in hospitality. 
If you invite someone for dinner,
you better know where they’re from.
We had a friend who didn’t know this
and invited someone to dinner.
She was surprised when they showed up at noon.)

Anyhoo…

My good ol’ Norwegian relatives drink a lot of black coffee.

Nothing is added to the coffee,
no milk and no sugar,
we drink it black,
because they dunk their cookies in it.
That’s where the sugar comes from.

My Mom calls cookies and coffee,
"A Norwegian Breakfast."

I love being Norwegian.

The generations that have lived through the Depression make
their coffee so weak, you can see the bottom of the cup through the coffee.

My brothers call this "Lutheran Church Basement Coffee."

Norwegians who know the Depression is over
make their coffee strong.

My brothers says it will grow hair on their chest.

Depending on who made the coffee in the morning,
I either add a little hot water to dilute
or  drink a few extra cups to wake up.

In the mornings,
I feel no pressure to get up and rush out to the kitchen,
because I have established the ability for my guests to

Help Yourself.

I don’t have to wake up,
until I smell the coffee.

Help Yourself Hospitality–Breakfast

A lot of women get up and make delicious breakfasts for their company.

I get up.

Years of living with cancer has changed my view on life
and my definition of hospitality.
I’ve learned to accept my limitations.

If my guests haven’t stayed overnight in my home before,
I casually let them know that if I haven’t slept well,
I won’t be up early.
(Sometimes, I need to sleep until 8 or 9am)

They’re shown where everything is in the kitchen,
the bathroom and the linen closet,
so if I can’t meet their needs,
they can

Help Themselves.

Mornings come too quickly.

Especially during the holidays.

Especially if you’ve been up talking with relatives,
drinking decaf,
watching holiday movies,
wrapping presents,
or reading a good book.

It’s hard to be up-and-at-’em early in the morning,
with a house full of early-rising old,
I mean experienced, people.

I like to have things out and ready, so if I’m not out in the kitchen,
my guests feel comfortable

Helping Themselves.

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I start with one jar of regular rolled oats, for those healthy on-a-diet kinda’ guests.

Add one jar of Trader Joe’s low-fat vanilla and almond granola.

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Add one tub of instant oatmeal packets of various flavors.

I try to find ones that are low in sugar,
but it can be a challenge.

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Take jars from your craft room, wash, and fill in with healthy mix-ins for the cereals.

(L to R) I have dried cranberries, dried apricots, raisins and slivered almonds.

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Display on a tray with a doily and you’re almost ready for breakfast.

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These three jars are always on my counter filled with cold cereal.

I was tired of having so many opened boxes in the pantry,
spilling and getting stale,
so this was a pleasing solution for all of us.

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This is another standard on my kitchen counter.

In our early years of marriage,
someone wisely advised it’s cheaper to eat healthy,
than to pay for a doctor.

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The bread basket is another company staple.

I fill it with good breads, bagels and English muffins,
so my company has a lot of options for

Helping Themselves

in the morning.

Cancer has taken much from me,
but I won’t allow it to take hospitality.

I’m healthier and stronger today
and have learned to PACE not PUSH.

But, there are three meals in a day,
I know I can’t give them each100%,
so I choose where to put my energy.

I help myself
by allowing my guests to

Help Themselves to Breakfast.

What Do YOU Hang On Your Christmas Tree?

A Christmas tree has many cherished functions during the holiday season.

The lights add a shimmering glow to the room,
matching the expectation of the celebration ahead.
Presents chosen with love
are nestled beneath the pine scented boughs.
Ornaments rich with memories hang from the branches,
marking Christmases past, but leaving room for future memories.

The scent, the sights, the feel of a Christmas tree are deeply
etched into our hearts and minds.

My kids added one more cherished function for our Christmas tree.

They simply continue to amaze me.

Remind me not to ask the kids to
"quickly pick up the living room"
ever
during the season of the tree.

Remind me not to ask when I’m not in the room and don’t specify
how
to pick up the living room.

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My Amazing Grace decided each branch worked like a shelf.

They picked up the living room very quickly.

I walked in, rolled my eyes,
grunted in a motherly fashion,
and demanded someone take a picture
while I went down to do yet another load of laundry.

Not sure what happened when I was in the basement,

Christmas Decorating 050

but the pictures on the camera
told a story their lips didn’t.

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But, it musta’ been funny.

See what a Mom misses when she’s always working?

Many years ago, some dear friends of ours shared their
convictions on why they don’t have a Christmas tree.

It was a pleasant conversation,
but all I remember is something about
German soldiers hanging guts on a tree.

Maybe I wasn’t listening very well.

We made our decision to have a tree
based on American  tradition,
not our faith.

We understand the tree really doesn’t have anything to do
with the Lord Jesus.

But we found a way to let our
love for the American traditions
and our love for the Lord Jesus
live together in our home.

Our dear friends don’t know what they’re missing.

Not only are they missing that wonderful pine scent,
their kids can’t clean up the living room in less than 5 minutes.

**********

(Reblogged from Christmas 2011.  The kids haven’t done anything exciting this year.)

I Served Cold Cereal for Our Company Holiday Party

 

A strange American holiday tradition is Chex Mix.

It’s not enough that we eat cold cereal for breakfast, 160 bowls  or 101 pounds per year per person, according to Cerealizing America.

We coat it with butter, Season-All salt and Worcestershire Sauce (how DO you say that anyway?) and it’s a snack.

We mix it with butter and melted marshmallows, squish it in a pan with our bare, buttered hands,  and it’s a desert.

Crumble it up and throw it on a casserole and it’s dinner. 

String it on yarn and it’s an edible craft.

We Americans love us some cold cereal.

We also love us some Chex Mix. 

It’s a salty tradition that balances out all the sugar we devour during the holidays.  And it’s healthy, right? Right?

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We go big or go home, as Jon,  my teenage son, would say. It’s easier to dump everything into lotsa bowls, then just crank the batches through the microwave. 

Since you just need 10 cups of stuff, I don’t always follow the recipe.  I love adding Bugles and Goldfish Crackers.  This year I added tiny Triscuits and little rye crackers. I use mixed nuts, cashews, or dry roasted peanuts, depending on sales.

We make enough for drop-by company or impromptu movie nights and store it in Ziplocs in fridge or freezer.

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This recipe came in a little cellophane wrapper in a box of Chex cereal, and is almost as old as my marriage.  We’re all still happily together. The online recipe is a bit different, although they claim it’s the original.

Plastic Chex Bowl 40th Anniversary with Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

I saved box-tops and sent for this treasure in 1990, a microwave safe bowl designed in honor of Peanuts’ 40th Anniversary.  I used it every year until I burned a hole right through the bottom. I found this beautiful memory  in Tracy’s Etsy shop, Upscale Yard Sale.

When my sister-in-law, Nita, gave me the turquoise Pyrex bowl in the first picture above,  a new tradition was born.

This year I needed a new tradition for serving my salty cold cereal for a holiday work party hosted in my home. I’ve used mini take-out boxes in the past, but I wanted something reusable.

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I guess I’ve been buying these things for awhile. The flatter ones are Sandbakkel molds, a Norwegian cookie I should make, but never have, and some are mini Jello molds.

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Those of you that like rusty, chippy things are drooling with jealousy now.

Those of you that don’t like rusty, chippy things are saying, “EEWWW!  Why didn’t she just throw that garbage out?”

Rabbit Trail Alert — I’m thinking those little flowers on the upper left would look great nailed onto something, or added to knitting needle stems or….what would YOU do with them?

jon 018

I was gunna’ be all impressive and use my Geometry skillz to perfectly cut holes on each side of the tin cups.  But, I discovered a lined index card with a black line worked just fine.

The tiny green wire garland was bought to make something for my daughter’s dollhouse a few years ago, but obviously, I never got around to it. I had to climb up into the scary attic and find it in the Christmas stuff, because I’m crazy like that when I have a project burning a hole in my pocket.

They need to change Murphy’s Law to Mindy’s Law.  Of course, I had to hit my head on a nail in the attic.  Why did they use nails six inches too long to pound the roof on?  It’s like a torture chamber up there.

Then, after drilling 50 holes with my trusty Makita drill, I realized little bits of metal were still clinging around the edges.  I didn’t want my company to eat metal, so I took a small paring knife and cleaned out each hole.  I was glad I remembered to wash them, because I bought them all at the thrift store and garage sales. 

Then, I discovered the green trim was shedding little bits of stuff after I cut the ends.  I had to de-fluff the green stuff by running it through my fingers and shaking the stuff on the floor for the kids to clean up.

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I used festive cupcake papers, ya’ know the kind I don’t usually spend the money on because I’m so cheap frugal, and turned them inside out to line the tins.

They really needed something added for a decoration, but I was out of time.

What would you add?

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They were served in an old, rusty cast iron muffin pan.  ‘Cuz, when you invite your husband’s boss and team over for a party, you really wanna’ serve them in rusty, vintage stuff.

It’s a tradition as American as Chex Mix.

X Marks the Spot

X marks a treasure.

As kids, we loved making fake treasure maps.  We’d burn the edges, and our fingers, to make the map look old.  We’d draw a few landmarks from the yard and then an X where the treasure would be.  Sometimes, we might even bury a treasure for each other. 

X marks a man.

In the days with more illiteracy, an X was accepted on documents, signifying the consent of an adult unable to sign their name.

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X marks the sun.  It was an amazing pic and make me thankful I always carry my camera in my purse.  With a flick of the lens caps and a click of an itchy trigger finger, my memory was captured forever.

This is what I really saw

as my heart burned within me and

Creation preached to my soul.

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X marks the Son, the Treasured Man.

 

Sledding Without Snow

My hubby is wary when I bring something unusual home from the thrift store or a garage sale.

Rightfully so.  Either he has to look at the thing for the rest of his life, fix it or make it into something. Remember all the gray fence boards he  helped me bring home last summer?  “Really?  You WANT all his old fence?"

Yep, really, I wanted it and used it.  Now he loves the area I created and named The Redneck Grill.  He just had his initial moments of doubt.

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He had those same doubts when I walked through the door with this.

In our neighborhood, it snows very little.  We can drive up the mountain and be around tons of snow, if we wanted to.  We rarely want to.  Scott and I were stormed in and shoveling out most of our lives while living in the upper Midwest.

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But this was a beauty I couldn’t pass up at Value Village. Don’t those wings just convince you this sled could make you fly?

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That’s why they named it the Flexible Flyer.  This model is the Airline Patrol for kids who dream of being a Pilot when they grow up.

“So, what are you going to do with it?” he asked with the caution of a man whose Honey-Do list that is always longer than the list of what a kid wants for Christmas.

I assured him I was going to use it to display food on the buffet line for the Christmas party we were hosting.  He was relieved.

An hour later I had a burst of genius. “Scott, there was a longer sled there, too, but I passed it up because I didn’t know what to do with it.  Now, I know what I want to do with it.  It would make a perfect coffee table!” 

A few hours later, we drove back to Value Village.

It.

was.

gone.

I was so disappointed.  Why can’t I be genius when I’m standing in front of an item, not after it’s sold to somebody whose light bulb went off in the store?

The gorgeous Flexible Flyer had to become a coffee table, and my old sled that usually decorates the front porch would go on the buffet table.

Various crates were tried underneath, they were too big. I wandered around the house, in the garage and the sheds looking for inspiration.  I crawled up in the attic, but only succeeded in hitting my head.

I had to break the news to hubby. I needed help.  He was The Help. After all, it was Saturday and he had the whole day off to be at my disposal.  At least that’s the way I looked at the situation.

We debated back and forth on how to make the vision come true. The frame couldn’t take away from the beauty of the sled.  It had to be easy to build.  It had to be cheap. It had to be sturdy enough to put coffee cups on without spilling. I hate wasting good coffee.

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This is what we came up with.  Together.  Because neither of us is right all the time, but mostly I am.

Just kidding!

He’s just learned that when I have a project vision, I’m not asking him to change the vision, but help it come true. I’ve learned that my ideas aren’t always practical or possible, so we have to talk until we can breathe life into the vision.

I loved his little details of covering the screws with those little brown half-circle thingies and the stabilizing bar across the middle. I would have been satisfied with less, but he went the extra mile.

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The moment of celebration!

As we sat and admired the coffee table,  I realized it was good for me to make  ask him to do this.  He  loves working with wood and it’s a great stress reliever.  He has a lot of stress in his life.  I always worry about his heart health, but you know men and doctors.  The only men that go to check-ups willingly are the docs themselves.

Anyhoo –

He relaxed.

He laughed.

He enjoyed.

He’s pleased with the work of his hands and the ability to make my vision come true.

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The sled coffee table is a success in so many ways.

I think the more Honey-Do Projects I come up with, the longer my Honey will be around to do them.

During an IM exchange a few days later, he said,

“i really love building and creating:  sort of my art work
and…my dad was a great carpenter

can’t wait for the next project… bring it on”

Guess I’ll be taking more trips to the thrift store looking for unusual items.

 

Black is Back

To me, white furniture looks a little…….

naked.

If I can say that word on a  Christian blog.

Like a lady  in public in her pantaloons or bloomers, it just isn’t right.

This little beauty below was found in a eclectic shop that sells vintage and antique items. I described the space in my foyer to the owner.

“I live in a split level where you walk into the house and there’s  a 4ft x 6ft foyer.  On your  right the first staircase goes down, the next staircase on the right goes up.  Imagine six people walking in the door, trying to get off coats and shoes without knocking each other up or down the stairs.”

I’m not a huge fan of the split level, especially when it has a tiny foyer.

A large oak mirror with hooks was hanging, but it needed something underneath for organizing and display. Something very narrow.  Something that wouldn’t get knocked down the stairs with the two children “accidentally” touching each other while trying to kick their shoes at each other off.

It also needed to be painted black and distressed.  By distressing your furniture ahead of time, it keeps you from being stressed and distressed when the kids scratch and dent it.  ‘Cuz, ya’ know they will.  It’s their job to ruin your stuff.  To test your patience and all that jazz. 

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As my kids would say “Perf!”  That’s teenage for “perfect” they inform me, as if I wasn’t cool enough to translate.  But, it’s more than “perf”, it’s “tote perf.”

Yea, it’s groovy, too, for those of you older than me and missing your high school journey.

Back to the shelf. It was narrow enough.  And cute enough.  Just too white.

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Not for long!

 

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Done.  So glad my favorite color is in style.  Makes it so much easier.  So glad my favorite medium, spray paint, is in style.  I was spray paint when spray paint wasn’t cool.  But, the new wave of coolness has dared me to paint even wood furniture, something I wouldn’t have done before.

A little sanding afterwards to take away the shiny “I just got spray painted look” and give it the distressed look,  and it was a done deal. I’d like to eventually find baskets so each kid can have one for hats or mail or keys or whatever else they don’t want to put away and it would end up “decorating” my foyer, or staircase or kitchen counter.

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I always wanted a foyer that was welcoming. I don’t consider a pile of stinky shoes welcoming, but my children do. 

To me it says “MESS!” 

To them it says, “Hey, take off your shoes and stay awhile.”

So, whether or not they take off your shoes, I hope our guests feel welcome when they walk into my split level home with the little foyer.

I just hope nobody falls down the stairs while looking at the vintage Christmas nativity stuff I displayed…