Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fabulous Frugal Friday Finds! (Well, Kinda)

(An assortment of Value Village goodies waiting to be poofed, prettied, and then placed in their new home.)

It's late, and I have to get up at the crack of dawn and head off to the School House after being gone for almost eight weeks with my broken ankle, BUT I wanted to post something because I'm behind on my blogging!

The picture above shows some goodies I picked over two months ago (just before the EMTs had to pick me up off the floor at Casa St. Michael).  They've been waiting for me in my garage, but during my "recovery" period (remember the "sit and sit and sit some more"?), I forgot about them.  During one particular antsy day last week, I hobbled out to the garage and drug them into the house.  I NEEDED to do something creative!  (The absolute best stress-buster I know!) 

The custom framed and matted picture is an old advertisement (copyright February 19, 1906) for Columbia Coffee and Syrup Company.  I had grabbed it up because my laundry room and its adjoining powder room are decorated in a coffee theme (I know it sounds kind of goofy, but I love it, and it works for me -- more about that later!).  I figured this would look great in one of those spots.  (Plus I loved the soft, antique-y looking colors in the print.)  I think it was marked around $3, but then pictures were half-price that day, so I paid about $1.50 for it.  

(I filled an old jar with a cinnamon potpourri mixture that has miniature cinnamon gingerbread-shaped men and little hearts mixed in with the leaves, tiny pine cones and other yummy-smelling stuff.  I then attached an old heart-shaped cookie cutter and one of those little gingerbread guys to the outside of the jar and popped it into the wire jar holder.)

There's a picture/plate holder in the pic that I grabbed up for about $ .70 and an old wire jar holder with a wooden handle on it (probably not an antique, just one of those old-looking country thingies) that was about the same price.  The old framed peach preserves recipe picture was $ .80 (and then marked half of that!).  A small framed square just out of view holds a small vintage cross-stitching of some blue flowers (I can never pass up an old cross-stitching).  And last but not least, I found a darling little silver frame (for half of the $1.09 marked on the glass) that will look great with . . . well, I'll tell you later!  In fact, I'll show you later in the week what I ended up doing with each of these treasures!  Suffice it to say, that I had a wonderfully de-stressing day playing with my new treasures!

If you think this is a great haul, you should see the treasures I scored last Friday afternoon!  I warned St. Michael on the way to see the Ortho Guy that if my cast came off and I was "released," I was going to go home, jump in my car, and not go home until evening time!  And that's just about what I did!  Fabulous!  Fabulous!  Fabulous!  I "treasured" to my heart's content all afternoon at the fabric store, two garage sales, and one resale shop . . . ahhhhh!  It's so good to be on my feet again!  Speaking of which, I need to shut it down, go to bed, and sleep fast!  Monday is a'comin'!

Have a wonderful week, my nesting sistas!

St Michael's Wife

Monday, April 20, 2009

Papa-God, Dave Ramsey, and My "New" Couch

Well, if you read my blog last week, you already know about the Great Couch Caper, or perhaps more appropriately, the Sad Sofa Sage -- OR as one sista-friend called it, my "God Field Trip." And, yes, I guess I need to explain that one.

As I may have mentioned in another posting, I've been sitting in Casa St. Michael for the past seven-going-on-eight weeks now with a broken ankle. Yep, just sitting. Sitting, sitting, and more sitting. On one hand, that's a lot of time to get rested up, plot out some strategies for getting organized and clearing out clutter once I'm back on my feet (both of them!), and even making some plans for a few future decorating projects. Okay. That took up the first afternoon.  (The planning part, that is.)

On the other hand, that's a lot of time for someone like me to get into trouble. (Trust me, that's something that I can still do even on one leg -- or with both legs propped up and just plain ol' sittin' around on my rear end!) You see, the more I had to sit here, the more I began to find fault with everything around me (let me hasten to say, excluding St. Michael!).

Let's be honest here, we all know our houses look tons better when they're shiney-clean and picked up, fluffed and feathered, but since I couldn't do any of that, it just became easier to sit back and nit-pick -- especially the more I watched HGTV, flipped through my decorating magazines, and discovered and pored over all of the incredibly creative, inspiring home-oriented blogs out there on the 'net. Now, there is not a thing wrong with any of those activities -- I can hear your collective sighs of relief! -- unless you're already in a mind funk like I was, and then, well, it's not pretty.

You see, I began to compare. And then I began to let my contentment slip away. As I let my contentment slip away, I left the door wide open for discontentment to sidle right on in. (Duh! Y'think!) And, let me tell you if you don't already know, Discontentment is a blind ol' bitty for sure! NOTHING looked right anymore in my house! I just knew that all of my notebooks and textbooks from school (teachers who are out with broken bones still have to do lesson plans for their guest teachers) wouldn't look nearly so bad strewn all over a new couch. (And for those of you who don't know me, when I say "new," I simply mean new and different to me; Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey would be proud to know that I never pay brand-new-retail prices for anything because almost everything in Casa St. Michael was in someone else's house first.)

I became convinced that the crossword puzzles from three of last week's newspapers, my datebook, the not-yet-responded-to mail, and all the magazines-to-be-recycled would probably look downright charming on any chair other than St. Michael's current recliner (which, doesn't look like a recliner at all unless he's stretched out in it, which I mention only to let you know that I really have no excuse to bad-mouth it). And surely, a chair much smaller in scale would look better over by the window than the big ol' overstuffed most-recently-purchased-from-Craigslist chair that currently fills that space so abundantly. Of course, I also knew that if I got all "new" furniture, I'd have to do away with the current rug that anchors the coffee table in the center of the room and find one more suitable in color and style . . .

I began to plot. (Never a good thing for me.) And then I began to search Craigslist for sometimes hours at a time. (I even hit up the "Outlet/Clearance!" spots on J. C. Penney's website looking at rugs.) I became a woman obsessed! Surely if I found something that was such a bargain that I just couldn't afford to not buy it, then I could get it. (I was just going to start with a new couch, mind you.)

By now, you are sure I was suffering from some sort of mental breakdown, right? I mean, I am the primary bread-winner in our family, as St. Michael is old [smile, Honey!] and semi-retired , and having not worked in lo' these many weeks and having pretty early on gone through all of what few "sick days I had" and having not even yet received my about-half-my-regular-salary short-term disability check AND being right in the middle of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course -- GASP! -- I think I'd have to agree with you!

(Dave Ramsey, Christian Financial Guru, who actually looks a lot like St. Michael!)

What in the world was wrong with me?!

Well, according to the Bible study lesson I prepared to teach (and then did teach) last weekend, I'd lost my focus. Yeah, imagine spending hours, and then days, in the plotting-mindset-mode and then picking up your new Bible study material from church and having the first lesson's title read, "CONTENTMENT." Whoa.

And I did. (Whoa, I mean.) Yup, I stopped dead in my tracks. And then I had to have a little come-to-Jesus meeting with that part of me that Joanna Weaver (Having a Mary Spirit) calls "Flesh Woman" and her gal pal I'll call "MissContent." (Actually makes more sense to me in some ways than discontent, y'know?) Yup, had to send them packin'. No room for them here at Casa St. Michael, seeing as we are already pretty full with this big ol' overstuffed, sink-into-comfy chair by the window, St. Michael's fits-him-like-a-glove recliner, and the looks-like-new Century sofa that first blessed someone else's home but now blesses mine.

I began to pay closer attention to the words in so many of the God-sent sista-blogs I've found: Use what you have (Like Merchant Ships) . . . It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful (Nesting Place) . . . doing my best each day to grow closer to God (Reinvented) and so many others. And I went and soaked up the words of my brother, Paul: Finally, [sister], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praise worthy -- think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

And I've reminded myself that I will be back on my feet soon (maybe even Friday!) and then I can begin in earnest to get organized, clear out the clutter, and clean! And things will look different! (Heck, even I look better after a little clean up!)

Meanwhile, about that sofa? Well, come June, I'm going to attempt to make slipcovers out of painters' drop cloths! (For the recliner, too!) Yesterday I snagged 40 yards of 100% natural cotton, washable, 1-1/4"-wide brush fringe off E-bay for $10.49 (amazing!) to trim them out with. And I bought one piece of vintage floral barkcloth as my inspiration piece for the cottage tone I want the family room to take ($12.99 for a 45" x 3 yd piece, also from E-bay).

Then I think I will probably have to find time to paint something on a board or maybe directly onto a wall . . . He has made everything beautiful in its time . . . (Ecclesiastes 3:11a)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

To Be? Not!

Well, a "new" sofa is not to be at Casa St. Michael, and let me say right off the bat that it's not because St. Michael wasn't willing.   I had convinced him that I'd be able to move out the necessary items to welcome in the couch.

Monday evening, after letting traffic die down, St. Michael loaded me and my crutches into his beloved silver pick-up truck (I'm still crippled, remember), and we headed across town -- way across town -- to check out the $30 sofa that had the potential to be the bargain of the year.  

To make a long story short, it wasn't.

In fact, I have to laugh at myself to keep from crying.  The sofa did not look anything like it did in the picture.  (Gee, has anyone else had that experience?)  It was not well-made at all, and the fabric was very cheap.  Even the in-person colors differed from the photo.  I knew right away that this was not a piece of furniture that was going home with me, even after the sweet owner, Marilu, offered to GIVE me the couch if St. Michael and I would just take it off her hands!  (That I came home without it speaks volumes about the sofa to those of you who know that I never turn down ANYTHING that's free!)  

BUT, I must say that as we were driving home, I began to feel all kinds of warm fuzzies going on in my tummy.  Warm fuzzies that were crowding out even my pangs of disappointment (after all, I already had our family room completely redecorated in my mind, so we ARE talking some let-down here).  I know it sounds corny, but I became overwhelmed thinking about the lengths that sweet, finest-bald-headed man-you've-ever-seen will go to to show me how much he loves me, even hauling me all over the Houston countryside to look at furniture he didn't want to begin with!   (He never ceases to amaze me, and I am a blessed-beyond-measure woman.) 

Maybe I will save my pennies to have a slipcover made for our current couch (which is really a fabulous couch, as far as bones go) or I'll keep looking to Craigslist for another bargain!  (LOL!  Hope springs eternal!)  For now, I will be content and rework or work with what I have.  

Saturday, April 11, 2009

To Be or Not To Be?

[NOTE:  The picture that went with this post was lost when I tried to make some changes to my blog layout, but it was a floral print sofa that looked either gorgeous or hideous, depending on your imagination!]

Okay, now before you voice an opinion or ask, "What the heck is THAT?", let me say that I, as much as anyone else, understand being downright frightened by some of the pics one can click on while investigating furniture on Craigslist -- pieces sellers have described in effusively glowing terms that might rival the description of a beloved relative one must -- sigh -- for some reason allow another family to adopt. I mean, who really believes that "unbelievably fabulous" is a phrase that should ever be used to describe a 1950s-60s-circa gold/orange/brown/olive plaid loveseat, complete with solid maple colonial-style-turned trim on each arm? (Don't get me wrong, I think shades of gold, green, brown, and orange can look great in a room, but only if they were put together sometime in this decade.)

To be honest, Baby Daughter's first response to this particular shot I downloaded from Craigslist, was much like mine was to the aforementioned past-its-prime-if-there-ever-was-one colonial couch.  "H-I-D-E-O-U-S-!" she gasped! She then proceeded to question my mental health. For the record, I don't think I'm crazy at all; rather, it is my humble opinion that I simply see possibilities where, obviously, she does not.

First of all, I am able to block out the blue wallpaper in the photo [an absolute must]. Then I envision this sofa parked comfortably on the wood floor of our family room . . . it's at home with a host of baskets in various tones, shapes, and sizes; a few wood hues; a whitewashed piece or two; some green and rusty-red pillows; a couple of predominantly white quilts, and some white battenberg lace here and there (all items I already have!) . . . Yup, I, for one, think this sofa could be the beginning of a sumptuously cozy, romantic room. And did I mention that this couch is thirty bucks? YES! THREE-OH dollars! (Those are the kinds of deals available to those who have visions of romantic country dancing in their heads while the rest of the world shops for brown leather and beige micro-fiber!)

Of course, I think I need to check out this potential bargain immediately, but St. Michael is not in agreement. He says we have too much stuff in our house right now. I've responded with my most convincing, "Well, we'll get rid of some of this stuff!" But he remains unconvinced. Still, let's suppose I could get rid of my current sofa and oversized chair, and even a ton or two of other miscellaneous past-treasures (easy come, easy go!), can anyone else out there see the potential in this floral extravaganza? Do YOU think it's worth checking out? And if it's in the perfect shape the owner says it's in, should I go for it (that is, of corse, IF I can convince St. Michael)? I'm eager to hear your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. Catch the vision, and bring it on, sistas!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ya'll Are Amazing!

I never cease to be amazed at the things I find in the world of blogdom!  So many smart, sassy (in the best of ways!), creative, beautiful sistas out there sharing the most wonderful things!  (In fact, that's why I started blogging -- I thought, Wow!  I wanna do that!)  I am continually inspired, and if my ankle weren't broken right now, I'm sure I would've redone my whole house by now and gotten it organized, too!  (Of course, the flip side of that is that if my ankle weren't broken, I'd be at work and I might never have discovered the joys of being part of the Fellowship of Followers, as well as, now, a bonafide blogger, myself!)

As you know, I love decorating and everything about it, but my heart's desire and most pressing need at home right now is to de-clutter and get organized.  However, as I mentioned, I'm a little handicapped right now, no pun intended, so the challenge has been to figure out what I could do from a sitting position, putting no weight on my right leg.  Trickier than I ever imagined it could be.  

Obviously, I can blog while sitting, but if you could see my house right now you'd know why I'm chomping at the bit to do more than just hit the computer keys.  I've been in this recovery mode for five weeks now, and things weren't exactly all in place to begin with the night I slipped off the bottom step of the stairs here at Casa St. Michael. (To give you an idea of what I mean, the night I took my tumble, I was packing up and putting away Christmas stuff . . . and it was March 3!  Yeah, I know! I know!  THAT'S why I began this journey, remember!)  

So what's a gal to do?  Well, like many of you, I have stacks and stacks of decorating magazine, and like you, there are some I'm not quite ready to let go of yet.  Still, as a woman on a mission to de-clutter, I took the advice I've read on several other blogs:  I started a "house -- or dream -- notebook."  I went through all of the magazines that had accumulated in one of my many family room "reading baskets" and carefully tore out the following pages:  1) Decorating ideas, large and small (from individual items to entire room layouts that make me drool each time I see them); 2) Cleaning tips -- new ideas and how-tos; 3) Strictly seasonal decorating ideas; 4) Projects -- trash-to-treasure (or junkque-to-jewels) ideas and step-by-step decor directions; and 5) Recipes (no, I don't cook much, but my daughter loves to get creative in the kitchen, and she'll fix anything for me!).  I filled a binder I already had ($0!) with dividers and plastic page protectors I already had ($0!) and then slid each and every idea-page into the appropriate section of the binder.  By the time I was done, St. Michael was able to recycle a thirteen-inch-high stack of magazines.  He was grinning like a fool (so excited is he about my new direction), and I was feeling as if I'd finally accomplished something tangible!  Woo-hoo!  

Tonight while I'm watching NCIS, I'm moving on to the next basket of magazines . . . this clutter-clearing crusader's work has just begun!  

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tugging and Adjusting

I'm an enigma.  A woman who loves beautifully decorated rooms of all sizes, shapes, and styles and who appreciates smoothly-running homes from which the scent of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies wafts and yet, is, herself, a total slob.  A downright disorganized mess.  (And did I mention that I might eat half the cookie dough before it ever get plopped onto the baking sheet?  Alas, I am nothing if not self-aware.)

Being self-aware is great, but it's only half the real deal.  The other half is deciding how to take what you know and do something constructive with it.  Otherwise, it's like walking out of a one of those tiny airplane bathrooms with your skirt tucked up into the waist of your panty-slip thingie, having someone point it out to you, and then simply shrugging, giggling, and walking right on up the aisle of the plane without even so much as one correcting tug!  (And for the record, I did NOT just shrug and giggle and walk on; I made some adjustments!)  That's what this blog is about.  I want desperately to make some adjustments in how I operate on the home front, and I've come to realize that I'm not alone.  There are other enigmas out there!  (Although, to take great poetic license with my brother, St. Paul's, words, I am sure I remain "chief among enigmas.")   

Yup, I'm learning that there are other women who struggle with the exact things I do as far as this day-to-day-life-at-home stuff goes and that they, too, wish they knew how and where to even begin to make some adjustments.   This blog is as much for them as it is for me.  Maybe by following my journey, they'll begin their own journeys, and after a little pulling and tugging, we'll all sashay down the aisle together as the fine, well-adjusted women we long to be!