Thursday, October 25, 2012

Meet Josephine, the dresser

Meet Josephine, the dresser.  Josephine is shy, probably because she was neglected (of course I forgot to take "before" photos) and left to age in peace.  But her beautiful knobby legs, detailed hardware and dovetailed workmanship was not to be ignored.  She just needed a little extra love and paint to brighten her life.

Josephine was painted with Annie Sloan Antique White chalk paint, distressed lightly, and waxed for a beautiful sheen.  The top was stripped, sanded, stained, and sealed with multiple coats of dark wax.  Since she was missing a knob, clear pulls were replaced on the top drawer and the rest of the original hardware was painted, distressed, and waxed.

Josephine will be waiting for you at her new home:  Robin's Egg 326 Nashua St., 101A, Milford, NH.

Have a beautiful day,


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I have a home for my furniture!!!

I am so excited to be moving out of my garage to a respectable business -- Robin's Egg, in Milford, NH.  It will be so nice to have a little corner of the universe where you can come and check out my latest creations.  Yahoo!  Bye, bye Craigslist.  I won't miss you.  :(

Robin's Egg is over 9,000 square feet and is "an eclectic melting pot of vintage, rustic, primitive, shabby chic, country, farmhouse, french, artistic, travel inspired and uniquely infused designs to help you create the perfect combination in your own home!".  I plan on moving in next week, but thought I would give you a little tour of the new home for The Reclaimed Life.

LOVE the wire basket lights
The sweetest little vignette
Loving me some old windows
I kind of fancy a globe bowl
Fantastic rustic table
I have a thing for old, chippy beds
Need a sign? 
Beautiful crib turned bench
Loving chunky mint green!

Also, check out Robin's Egg Facebook page where the new items are featured everyday!  There are special seasonal weekends announced on FB as well.

Hope to see you soon!


Monday, October 15, 2012

DIY Vintage Looking Frames

I'm almost embarrassed to write this post because it is just too simple.  Yet there are a lot of you out there who never thought of this method and have been searching for just the right person to share this tid-bit of wisdom.  Okay, well, maybe it's not that dramatic or earth shattering, but here it is anyway.

If you are looking to "age" your paint, to give it that time-worn, vintage"y" look, just add stain.

Now, you don't need gel stain.  Actually, it's probably better that you just stick with the good ole' liquid stain.  Also, you can experiment with colors, but I like to work with the darker browns.  Also, I am doing this tutorial on frames because it is a small project and would be better to "mess up" on than your beautifully painted armoire.  Once you have mastered this application, feel free to use it on your larger pieces.

Before we begin, STAIN DRIES FAST.  You have to work in small sections and work quick.  Now, if you are not Speedy Gonzales and prefer to have more time, then use a glaze.  You will achieve the same results with glaze, as it gives you more "open" time to work before it dries.

To begin:  Put on your gloves, take your rags, wet them and wring them out, then dip one into the stain.  Rub your wet, stained rag down one side of your painted frame.  Make sure to get into all the little cracks, as the stain will bring out the character of the piece.  Almost immediately, take a clean wet rag (or use a clean portion of the one you just had in your hand), and wipe the stain away.  You should be left with enough stain to achieve the antiqued-look.  You can add more stain, if you like, but give it a few minutes to dry.  Continue along the rest of the frame until finished. 
You can see the inside frame has been stained.

Loving on "aged" turquoise
See?!?  Super, easy, simple way to antique any painted piece.  Just make sure to test this method in a small, hidden area of a larger piece of furniture before going to town.

Now, if I can get around to taking photos of my gallery wall where I used all these frames . . . .

Have fun,

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

A coffee angel and the price of chemo

There were a few rough days last week.

Wednesday was my scheduled yearly mammogram.  I haven't had many of these "yearly" visits yet, as I'm in my young 40's, but I understand the routine.  Stand up to the machine, get your boobs squished like a flat pancake while the sweetest person talks your ear off.  I find it funny, in an interesting way, that the nicest people are hired for these jobs.  Which makes sense:  intrusive exam = lovely grandmotherly type.

Anyway, Thursday comes and I get a call.  "We would like you to come back for more pictures of your right breast.  We have openings today."  Gulp.

Now, I know this is not uncommon.  Of course it makes sense that they may not have all the right angles to see all they want to see.  But I did not think of these common thoughts.  I went into full panic mode.

How could my kids grow up without me?

I won't see Haley get married?

I need to be here for Jack.

You see, if you don't already know, my son has leukemia.  And it would just be so cruel to lay another thing on this family.   We can't have two of us with cancer.  I'm playing the "fair" card here, and that just wouldn't be fair.  I call my husband at work and tell him I need to go in and the silence on the other end says volumes.

So, I go in to get another five smushes (is this a real word) on my right breast.  I go to the waiting room to wait for the results, only to find out they now want an ultrasound.  PANIC.  But I keep it in check.

In the end, they were just cysts.  No immediate worries of cancer.  But I left there a puddle of smush (there, I used it again).  Relieved, but beaten up.

I decided I needed a Dunkin Donuts pumpkin coffee after that fiasco.  I mean, fearing you have cancer always deserves a hot pumpkin coffee, am I right?!?  When it's my turn in the drive thru line, I pull up to find out that the person in front of me paid for my coffee.  Just a random act of kindness.  Do you think they knew?  Do you think that on this very day, at that very minute, I needed a random act of kindness?  Well, the flood gates were opened and I was truly thankful.

Fast forward to Friday.  Jack goes into the Dana Farber Cancer Institute every third Friday, which is the beginning of his chemo cycle.  While he is getting a lumbar puncture (where chemo is injected directly into his spine), I head to the pharmacy to retrieve his medicines.

As is customary (and polite), you stand about 10 feet behind the person at the counter.  But I can clearly see the register and the amounts showing on the screen.  At first I think they must be codes for the medicines; 518.60, 320.40, 196.80, etc . . .   Then it totals up:  $10,100.80


They were never codes!  They were the cost of her medicines!  OMG!  She just ran her credit card through like she was buying a pack of gum.

It just seems criminal to me.  I don't know her story, or the story of the loved one she is getting the meds for, but is this the cost to staying alive?  Do the meds last a week, month?  How can anyone afford this?  I feel so thankful that we do have insurance and that it covers many of our cancer-related expenses.  And perhaps she can submit the receipt to someone, somewhere, and get back some of the costs.  But holy cow.

Holy cow.

Stay healthy people.  

P.S.  I wasn't offered the same customary, politeness when I was at the counter paying for my son's medicines.  The woman behind me came up to the counter, slammed her purse down within 6" of me, and started to leaf through her purse.  She had her pathetic looking husband holding her other bags while she barked at him, trying to find some hidden item buried in bottom.  After my initial shock that she lacked all boundry skills, I would turn and look at her, hoping she would get the what-the-hell-are-you-doing-up-my-ass-you-arrogant-uncivilized-human-being stare and sulk away.  But she didn't.  And, because I am exceptionally good at thinking exactly what to say after the fact, I just left there irrate.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

DIY Rustic Wooden Boxes

Oh my gosh, these little guys are sooooo easy to make and so versatile.  As my dear friend Alison would say, "I need this to be easy.  Not Debbie easy.  Easy."  Well, Alison, my little charmer, this is EASY.  Not Debbie easy.  Just easy. (Wow, you type "easy" that many times and it just doesn't look right anymore).

These boxes are great for anything.  You can store your pens, paper, and scissors in them for your office desk.  They make a great caddy for a picnic by holding the utensils and napkins.  Or they can be show stopping centerpieces.

My mother-in-law and I were in charge of table centerpieces for a recent family gathering.  I had tons of scrap wood sitting in my garage, just waiting to be created into something useful.  So I thought we could recycle jars as flower vases and I would create little wooden boxes to put them in.  So, over a month's time, we collected pickle jars, Snapple bottles, natural peanut butter jars . . . you get my drift.  I decided three jars to a box and built the box around the width and length of the jars.

I made eight centerpieces and let the guests take them home.
To make your box, you need one bottom, two long sides, and two short sides.  If you are making your box to fit specific size jars, you just need them to fit on the bottom piece.  Make sure you "dry fit" them on the bottom piece before you put the whole thing together.  And make sure your sides are tall enough that when you move the box around, they can't come tumbling out.

I used both glue and nails to assemble the boxes.  If you want sturdy boxes, I would recommend using both.  I had a nail gun, but you can nail in the old-fashioned way.  The nail heads would look really rustic and fit perfectly with this piece. 
As you can see, I attached a short side to the bottom first.  With my design, I have the bottom "hidden" by all the side pieces.  Meaning, you won't see the seams of the bottom piece unless you flip it over.  So make sure you add on the thickness measurement of the bottom when figuring out the side heights (so the aforementioned jars will not tumble out).  

After attaching both short sides, now you just attach your long sides (make sure you add the width measurements of both short sides onto the long side so the long side "covers" the short side seams).  I have the box flipped over for this assembly, as it's easiest.  I love my boxes rustic, so if every seam doesn't match up perfectly, so what?  You meant to do that, right?!?

Next, I like to beat the heck out of the box (sorry, no photos, but you can visualize).  I use a hammer, screwdrivers, nails, etc . . . I want the new wood to look like it's seen a better day.  One of my favorite techniques is to make worm holes:  tap a nail into the wood to create a small hole.  Continue to do this to form a cluster of holes.  Looks super cool when it's all finished.

After I beat the "you know what" out of the boxes, I gave it a light sanding to remove any splintery pieces.

To achieve the finished look, I stained each box a dark brown.  When that was dry, I dry brushed on white paint.  After I achieved the look I liked, I did a final light sanding.

Finally, I chose whatever handles I had in stock.  I made each box differently so they would have their own character.  I used flea market found knobs, rope handles, wooden knobs.  And I loved the way they turned out.

I kept one for myself.  And yes, I do realize that I have to do a tutorial on the finish.  It is super easy.  Not Debbie easy.  ;)

Have fun,

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