Saturday, June 27, 2009

Texas Two-Stepping (No Boots or Belt Buckles Required!)

In Monday's post I promised to share some exciting news (at least, exciting to me!) "later in the week," so before this week officially slips away, I figure I'd better get it out there.  But first, a warning:  Some of you are going to read my "news" and think, That's it?  Well, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.  Who needs that?  With all due respect, ya'll aren't the sistas this news is for.  This news is for our sistas whose heartbeats will quicken a little when they read my words and then gasp, That's for me!  Woo-hoo!  That's for me

Let me begin by asking you to read my very first St. Michael's Wife posting because it will give you an idea of where I'm coming from. 

FLASHBACK:  Wednesday, April 8, 2009                                                                                      
I'm an enigma.  A woman who loves beautifully decorated room 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 gets 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!

FLASHFORWARD to REAL TIME:  Saturday, June 27, 2009


Somehow, in the midst of the Great Couch Caper (a.k.a "The Great Sofa Saga"), stalking bargains at Value Village, and easing back into the public classroom while still recovering from my Big Break (no, it wasn't on America's Got Talent; think bones, women), I kinda forgot why I started this blog to begin with.  Yes, of course, I love sharing my Queen-of-Cheap decorating schemes (and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reading about yours), but I really do feel a call to reach out to women who, like me, have trouble sharing their own beautiful projects with the real-live-in-the-flesh folks who live around them (as opposed to their Cyber Sistas) because once their projects are completed, there's often no clear path to safely get anyone in and out of the house to actually view the project.  If we've finally found the perfect tablecloth at Marshall's for our breakfast room, it might be beautifully spread over the table and artfully enhanced with our fifty-cent candlesticks from a neighbor's yard sale and our $1.71 Value Village chargers (that were originally $12.99 at Pier One), but no one outside our immediate family can actually see this new slice of beauty for the dishes overflowing from the kitchen sink, the dust-bunnies chasing each other around our baseboards, and the sewing machine still sitting on the surrounded-by-fabric scraps TV tray in the den.  (Did I tell you that the perfect tablecloth was initially too long but once cut down to size yielded enough extra material to make a pillow?) 

It's at this point that some of you are thinking, Well, duh, just clean it up, silly.  What's the big deal?  I guess it were just the dishes, and just the dust-bunnies, and just our leftover sewing scraps, maybe we would.  But there are our over-flowing closets, the drawers that sometimes can't open because of the junk crammed into them (and for too many of us, ALL of our drawers have somehow evolved into "junk drawers"), the laundry that multiplied in the dark (like those darn dust-bunnies), the mysterious unidentified gunk that got smushed into the dining room rug sometime last week but that we just rediscovered last night, the Bible study lesson that needs to be prepared and the handouts that need to be finished up and copied for Sunday morning, T-ball schedules, and . . . well, we are overwhelmed.  (And that's not even considering the dreaded bathrooms.  I, myself, used to joke that my favorite part about going to any women's retreat was having a clean bathroom for the weekend.)

Some of this house-stuff is normal life for most people -- they do clean up as they go, and it doesn't slow them down for a minute.  (Oh, they might be overwhelmed once in a while, but those times are the exceptions, not the norm.)  But there is an entire segment of the population whose bookshelves are filled with titles like The Side-Tracked Home Executive, The Messies Manual, Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, and Sink Reflections . . . we've bought index cards and file folders and printed out pages of systems from our computers, and yet, WE STILL DON'T GET IT!  We still suffer from what The FlyLady calls CHAOS ("Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome"  I call it "Oh, #@%$! Syndrome" because that's what I say when I see someone unexpectedly approaching my front door.  Jaja words, I know.  Sorry.).

The worst part of our condition is the constant feeling of defeat, guilt, and shame.  Why can't we keep our houses like everyone else seems to?  Our other sistas make it look so easy, so natural, that we can't help but wonder What's wrong with us?  

It would be one thing if we didn't care, but we really do care; we want to be better at keeping our houses -- because whether we want to admit it or not, how we keep our houses has a definite effect on the spirit of our homes -- we just don't seem to be able to, or at least we haven't managed to do so successfully on a regular basis yet. 

Now this is the cool part.  God has graciously been placing other women like me in my life, which is wonderful all by itself, but the exciting part for me is that one of those women -- someone who loves the Lord and overflows with spiritual gifts and insight -- recently asked me what I would think of starting a kind of support group as a ministry to women like us.  I explained that it was an idea that had already been bouncing around in my brain for a while, and I told her about my blog and how I had gotten somewhat side-tracked from its original intent (many of us "enigma women" are borderline -- if not full-blown -- ADD and are easily drawn off-task).  We talked for quite a while, and at church the next morning picked up right where we'd left off.  We both admitted that after our initial gab-fest the night before, we'd each gone home and lain in bed thinking of how God might orchestrate such a ministry.   We're still planning, but I'd like to share a few ideas with you.

As God would have it, Lora and I were both drawn to the book of Nehemiah for inspiration, but I'll save those specifics for another post.  Meanwhile, what I can say is that this would be a group of women of all ages and stages that comes together not to marinate in our misery but to encourage and challenge one another and to share ideas that can help us better manage our homes -- as our brother Paul would say, to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24).  

We're thinking about calling our group The Texas Two-Step.  I know -- that's pretty off the wall, huh?  But, most of us who need this group know what it means to spend so much of our time "dancing as fast as [we] can," always trying to catch up but never quite managing it.  Well, think about this, to Texas two-step, one slows down, focuses on her partner's lead, avoids looking down (choosing, instead, to look up), and aims for smooth forward motion.  (Sounds good, so far!)  And greenhorns -- those new to the dance -- are encouraged to aim for simplicity, focusing on easy, basic steps, all the while, again, looking up and moving forward.  

How does St. Michael's Wife figure into this?  St. Michael's Wife will become St. Michael's Wife and the Texas Two-Step and will serve as a resource for the group -- a clearinghouse of sorts for ideas and encouragement, as well as a place where fellow Two-Steppers can leave their own comments, encouragement, and ideas.  (I promise to have the blog re-vamped and gussied up a bit before we officially start toward the end of the summer/beginning of fall!  The comment thingie will be working for sure!  At all times!)  Of course, cute decorating will still be here because, at least for us Emotional Cleaners (see the May 6, 2009 post, "If You're Not OCD, You just might be an EC!"), beautiful rooms fall under "encouragement" and "inspiration"!  (So there'll still be something for you "normal" sistas, too!  In fact, ya'll might be able to jump in and help the rest of us out!)  

So, sistas, that's my news!  A new ministry in the making!  Stay tuned for more info as the summer months roll by . . .  and feel free to let me know YOUR thoughts and ideas -- I always love to hear from you!  (For the time being, my comments-thingie is at the beginning of each post.  Weird, I know, but that's the only way I could get it to work right now.)

Until later, grins and clutches from St. Michael's Wife 
  



   

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Welcome!

Whew!  Okay, I know my lasting posting was like blooger-on-crack!  
I went crazy and wrote -- I now realize! -- way too much 
and posted way too many pics at one time!  (Pics that weren't even really that great!) 

But I was just soooooo glad to be blogging again!  (Hey, notice all the "!"s, so what does that tell you?)  From now on -- inspired by YOUR beautifully much-more-artistic-than-anything-I've-done-so-far photo postings -- I'm going to attempt some balance and discretion. (Admittedly, two words that have NEVAH before been used to describe me or my works!)  

I was going to share a couple of outdoor projects this morning, and then I discovered that Kimba over at A Soft Place to Land (http://asoftplacetoland-kimba.blogspot.com/2009/06/garden-party-round-up.html) had already thrown a garden party earlier this week to share all of those fabulous outdoor projects going on throughout Blogland, and I missed it!  Darn it!  So just pretend that I'm showing up fashionably late, and enjoy my new attempt at restraint (in the pic and word department, that is!).  And remember, I'm STILL learning!

Welcome to Casa St. Michael . . . 

To be honest, I had let my front door area go for a while (too busy with my slipcovers and other inside projects), but then I went to pick up a Freecycle offering the other morning and was greeted by the most adorable front porch celebrating our upcoming July 4th holiday. (Sorry, I didn't have my camera with me!  But it was REALLY, REALLY cute!)   The Freecycler, Robin, has even wrapped my little porch pick-up in paper with stars!  Well, that inspired me to come right home and get busy on making the front of Casa St. Michael a little more festively welcoming!  Thanks, Robin for the grins and the inspiration!


An old "Welcome Friends" sign, complete with a pink heart and country-blue squiggles, looks great repurposed as a sign to let visitors know they've arrived at Casa St. Michael!


I found a "fall" doormat marked down to $1.97 at Tuesday Morning, spray painted it black, and then used a stencil brush to hand-letter our family initial in white onto it.  Works for us!


And since all my wreaths from years past were looking a little pitiful, I decided to spray paint this little window box thingie -- a $3 garage sale find -- black to match our other accents here at the casa and hang it up where I'd normally put a wreath.  I also thought it would be fun to plant some REAL LIVE flowers (courtesy of Wal-mart) in some extra coffee cups in place of my usual pretend ones (although in this Texas heat, the pretend ones may make an appearance soon enough).  Old Glory and some Scrabble letters pull it all together for the upcoming INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION!



Monday, June 22, 2009

I'm BACK! And Ya'll Are the Absolute BEST!


And I'm apologizing ahead of time for all of the craziness with the variety of fonts throughout this post -- I don't know why my computer is acting like this, but, hey, I'm just happy to be writing!

[Pics at the end!]

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The absolute most fabulous thing about Blogland is the awesome women we meet! I am so blessed! (Read on through my rambling to hear the specifics of your wonderfulness!)

For anyone just finding your way here, I have not blogged in what seems like ages, partly due to end-of-year school stuff. (One of the best things about teaching is that we get to start fresh every year! I love that! And this year was such a strange year with Hurricane Ike swooping in on so many of my babies right at the beginning of the first semester and then my breaking my ankle and being out for two and a half months the second semester . . . what a blessing that in August it will all be "new" again!) 

Then my sweet little mama arrived from NC the day school was out, and after kissing great-grandbabies and meeting Baby Granddaughter's new beau, we were off to Home Depot for painters' dropcloths and then on to Hancock's for zippers and thread, so that the Queen Mother could jump right into fashioning some wonderful slipcovers for my couch.  


Of course, I couldn't let her work while I sat around watching HGTV and eating bon-bons, so while she pinned and cut and sewed (and sometimes ripped and re-sewed), I reframed pictures, painted more odds and ends red, etc. Then no sooner were the extra threads sucked up in the vacuum than my little mama was off -- back on the plane and home to Daddy. Again, the couch looks fabulous, but it took all of Little Mama's time to get that big ol' couch covered . . . by the second day of sewing she let me know that there was no way she was going to get to the recliner. (And did I mention that while I am busy changing everything to red, our recliner's original fabric is covered with ORANGE swirly designs?) Not to worry, I assured the Queen Mother; while I am not a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, I AM mechanically minded, so I told her I was sure I could figure it out.  (I wasn't really that sure, though -- inside I kept thinking, "Oh, CRAP!")

OMIGOSH!  

It took me about fifteen hours, but I DID get that chair done! (And I did tell you that it is a RECLINER, right? Not just a regular ol' chair, a RECLINER!) Yep, I started the morning after Little Mama left, and I worked until that night. (I was afraid if I stopped I'd never finish it!) I have to admit, I'm kinda proud of it! (I mean, who else carries a picture of their chair on their cell phone. But, don't laugh, it has come in VERY handy. Why, just today, I ran into a friend out running errands and was able to show it to her! She was VERY impressed!) 

After I got the chair done, well, I seemed to just fall into a kind of funk, I think. (Probably just tired -- my 73-year-old little mama can work me into the ground! I want to be her when I grow up!) I just couldn't seem to put one sentence together. Plus, try as I might, I couldn't get my comments-thingie to work, and it was making me crazy!  

Now, this is the cool part . . .

I DID hear from some of you that my comments-thingie wasn't working, and then -- I am still amazed and in awe about this -- Stacey at Poofing the Pillows even put out an Blogland APB for me! She wrote about me and then asked her readers to find ways to track me down and let me know that my comments-thingie was working and that I was being missed! Can you imagine such a thing! And several of you did exactly that! I could have cried I was so touched!  

Still, I couldn't seem to sit down and write. (Sometimes it's hard being a mental case.)

But I am excited that I finally got my comments thingie working, and so I am hoping to get my blogging groove back on this week with some new stuff and exciting news. (Be sure to check back later in the week.) Again, your comments mean more than you know! (Xs and Os -- and clutches to my ample bosom -- to Sue and Amelia and Suzanne and Spencer and Mona and Denise and Chris and Kim and Cindy and Annabella and Amber and Shelley and Diana . . . oh, please forgive me if I've left anyone out! You are all precious!)
So for now, check out a few snapshots and then later this week, I'll share my fun news!
 
Grins and blessings, Pamm


(This I got done before Little Mama arrived.)  
I saw this vintage-style cowboy fabric and HAD to do a Texas room!  I didn't want it to be too theme-y, though, or masculine, so after St. Michael made one of the longest cornice boards known to man, I covered the plywood with an old comforter my kids used to take to the beach when they were in high school.  (I'm cheap!)  Then I sewed my cowboy fabric together and covered the seams with silver-studded western style belts I got from Value Village (close ups next time, but it's really cute).  Then I hot-glued Battenberg lace table toppers I'd cut up to fit to the underside of the board and let them hang down.  Next, I placed red ticking (I'd bought with a 40% off coupon from Joann's) "panels" on short little curtain rods I had left from another old project and glued them to the underside, as well.  (I would never have had the guts to do this if it weren't for the NESTER!  Gotta love that woman!  She empowers us!)

This is the Pier One chest purchased on damaged/clearance several years ago as an anniversary gift to ourselves. It holds all my placemats, napkins, tablecloths, games, stationary, etc.    Our coffee table sits in the foreground of the pic.  (What could be more Texas-y than the seal of the Great State of Texas sitting beside a basket holding the Baptist Standard?)


This is the big ol' comfy chair we got off Craigslist a while back -- it was cheap and looked brand new!  Got the adorable flag pillow for .50 last weekend at a garage sale.  (You can't tell, but the stripes are red buttons shaped like stars and hearts.  I'd have bought the pillow just for the buttons alone!  I LOVE buttons!)

The other side of my Pier One chest:  A leather suitcase from a church garage sale ($3) and a big ol' basket from VV ($1.75).  The sock monkey was one of the last my great grandmother made. 

(I don't know why I can't get the computer now to stop underlining everything!  Arghhhh!)
The stairs are to the right of the suitcase-basket-stool/plantstand.  I have my grandson's favorite chair at "Papa and Jaja's" house sitting in the landing.  When a friend gave it to me, it was stained, but I painted it red last week and love it like this.  Just about everything else here came from VV or garage sales.



This adorable little cabinet sports an old metal "Macy's" tag on the inside of it.  I found it in the garage of our house when we moved in twenty-six years ago!  It was originally white, then antiqued blue, then green, and while Little Mama was here, I painted it red!  (Thanks to whoever suggested the Colonial Red spray paint.  Love it!)

My side table beside the couch is an old serving cart I got from a church garage sale for $3 and -- you guessed it -- painted red!

This is not a good picture of the Queen Mother's handiwork, but it's the best I have tonight.  (I'll take more later, but the softly ruffled skirt that's out of view, just makes it for me.) And the color is not good at all on my "window art."  Way too dark. The shutters are a beautiful, weathered shade of red, so I'll have to take another pic of it later, too.

And last, but not least!  My chair!  Now, I'm not down-playing my little mama's work at all (I could never have done the couch!), but I never had any doubts about what she could do.  ME, I had doubts about! (I kept imagining having to send Spencer at Bellamere Cottage an airplane ticket to Texas, so she could finish it for me -- she slipcovers everything!) So the fact that I actually got this done still astounds me!  

Okay, I know I overdid it on this post, but, what can I say?  I'm just excited to be back!