Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tick, tock.

My alarm clock broke yesterday.

I bought that alarm clock when I moved to Minneapolis in 2001.  It was the height of style at the time—Target’s first foray into bringing famous designers in-house—and I thought it was the coolest thing on Earth.  I had the matching Michael Graves phone and answering machine, too.  Logged a lot of hours on that phone, as it turned out, homesick as hell.  The phone and the answering machine (remember those?  Lord) are gone, but the alarm clock was—wait for it—still ticking.  Until yesterday.

It got me thinking about what’s happened in my life since 2001.  I’ve moved five times since then.  I’ve owned two houses, one by myself and one with my husband, who I also acquired in the last ten years.  I’ve lived alone, alone with a dog, with my parents, with roommates, with my husband, with my husband and two dogs, and finally now with my very own family. 

I’ve had four jobs.  One broke my bank account; one broke my spirit; one broke my brain; the one I have now rebuilt two out of the three.  (We’re still poor.)  I’ve started graduate school twice and continued it once.  I’ve had five cars, I think, though the only one that I truly mourn is the Volkswagen…oh, convertible of mine, I will have you again someday…

I have 452 Facebook friends.  Just eyeballing it, it appears that half of those are people I met in the last ten years.  That other half is full of people that I haven’t seen in the last ten years, and in some cases more.  That’s a long time.

Ten years ago, I just had me.  Now, I have me, and my husband and a daughter, for God’s sake.  (In fact, I suspect the demise of my alarm clock may have had something to do with said daughter, but I digress.)  I have other kids, too, from the newspaper and the marching band and alumni-kids truly all over the world.  And now they’re getting married and having kids, too. 

So what have I learned in ten years?  Sometimes I think not much.  Sometimes I think a lot.  I learned how to use a circular saw.  I learned how to knit.  I learned to take life just a little less seriously.  I learned how to love so much that it hurts, and I learned how to love just a little bit more until it feels good again.  I learned about joy, when I introduced myself to my dearest baby girl, and I learned about grief, when I lost my dearest grandmother.  I learned about falling down and getting back up and falling down and getting back up and telling the world to go to hell and then asking it not to.  I learned, I learned, I learned. 

It has been a long and short ten years.  I don’t know if the next alarm clock will last ten more, but I hope that it does.  I hope I do, too, and ten years beyond that and beyond that and beyond that more and more.  Life is too short.  I want to have much, much more of it than I will.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My dirty little secret

I'm just going to come out with it, right here, right now.

I am PROFOUNDLY HORRIBLE at housework.

I know everyone says their house is messy.  Blah, blah, blah.  We don't live in a Hoarders house with rampant rodents or holes in the wall or anything, but I absolutely do not vacuum enough--and by enough I mean "more than once a month".  You know what's completely objectionable about this?
1) We have two dogs.
2)  I have these.  Both of them.

Roomba 560 and Dyson DC07.  Both designed for pet hair.  Meaning that it's not like I'm cleaning the carpet with my grandma's Electrolux.  So one would think that at least the floors would be clean, right?  No.  Nope. Not at all.  Hello, balls of hair floating by.  Hello, touch no surfaces in the house if you're wearing black.  

The kitchen and the bathroom.  The kitchen and the bathroom both have vinyl flooring.  So in combination with the two machines above, I have this steam cleaner.  Add water, plug in, mop, throw cleaning pad in washer.  Beautiful!  Easy!  Never happens!

Dishes get done.  The toilet gets cleaned--though I will say that the discovery of those bleach toilet tablet things you put in the tank probably was a significant one.  The bathtub?  Weeelllll...yeah, I clean it.  But not as often as you clean yours.

Laundry?  BAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  I like to think of my laundry schedule as a zero equation:  when I have zero clean underwear, it's time to do laundry.  I'm also responsible for Caroline's laundry.  Let's just say it's a good thing her grandmother likes to shop.  And Dan?  He does his own.  (But that's because he's all weird about how his t-shirts are folded--and he used to be equally weird about folding his boxers.  Who the hell folds their boxers?  He got over that, but he's still weird about the t-shirts, so he just does his own.)  

Dusting?  Um.  Well, sure, when Dan's parents visit for Caroline's birthday.  Oh, and if I host Thanksgiving.  Or if someone new is coming to visit...which brings me to another point.  I have always wanted to have people come over for dinner and drinks.  I love to cook, I love to entertain.  But I would be completely embarrassed to have someone over to this mess on most days.  I'm sure it's not as bad as it seems.  Our housesitter characterized our house as "cute and crafty--and in need of vacuuming".  Heh.  That seems not so bad.  But it feels...dirty to me.

And this is all just not acceptable.  I have always known this about myself.  When I lived alone (or with a paying roommate), I kept the house pretty clean.  But for some reason, I don't get it done anymore.  I really think I'm lazy.  I mean that sincerely.  I work fulltime, but so what?  So does everyone else.  I'm taking courses, but so what?  That means I don't have 15 minutes to clean every day?  Really?  There's just no excuse.

Lest you think "Where is your husband in all this?", let me assure you that he's doing his fair share.  I'm pretty sure he vacuums more often than I do.  The bathroom and dishes are usually mine, but he definitely helps out.  And like I said, he does his own laundry. This is about doing what I should be doing, not doing more than I should.

So starting this week, the week that I sort-of go back to work for the school year, I am trying to make myself, and the dog hair tumbleweeds under the TV stand,  a promise:  I will clean 15 minutes a day, every day.  I will make sure the dishes are in the dishwasher and off the counter every night before bed.  That Fly Lady stuff is probably a good idea--I will set the timer (which is in reality Caroline's time-out timer, which I think is TOTALLY appropriate) and clean until it tells me to stop.  

Oh.  And I'm going to see if Caroline's tall enough to push the Dyson.  She might as well form good habits early, right?  

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Shut it down. Shut. It. Down.

I have crafty stuff that I could take pictures of, but I'm feeling philosophical.

We aren't looking for a new house.  In fact, we both agree that we're just now getting this one to where we want it.  We bought this house 5 years ago in January, and we've slowly but steadily fixed it up and tried to make it exactly what we need without going into debtors' prison.  And though I still think that I might want to start a class action lawsuit against HGTV for fraud--they make remodeling look've been able to accomplish a lot.

Our house isn't big.  It certainly isn't new.  And it certainly doesn't have bells and whistles and a fancy driveway. I haven't had overhead lights in my kitchen for coming up on 3 years now.   A breaker blew, we replaced it, we replaced switches and outlets, and nope.  I cook using a floor lamp, because we're both afraid an electrician is going to come in and tell us we're hosed.  This house is 115 years old--that's 115 years of idiots like us cobbling together what we could.

But I enjoy real estate.  And of course I dream.  Witness my post about the Dream Farm.  We've always said we wanted a house in the country, something with some acreage.  And you know, 18 bedrooms and 20 bathrooms.  Your basic McMansion.  The New American Dream.  Nothing to fix, everyone with their own little wing.  PERFECT.  Then my life would be perfect.  PERFECT.  So we drove around, looked at some lots, dug into was going to be PERFECT.

And then I saw this.

Doesn't look like much, does it?  Broken siding, junked up rocky landscaping, brown screams "money pit", right?  But hey.  The price is right and it has lots of acreage.  Why not drive by?

I cried on the front porch.

No McMansion. Less square feet than the house we live in now.   No perfectly manicured yard.  In fact, I googled the address and found that one of the former owners was citing for public nuisance, because of all the junk left in the yard.  That's all gone now, because the house was foreclosed on and so I'm sure the bank moved it all.  But I cried, on the front porch.  Because I could see it.  This was a place that could be our home.  Not just this house, which we love dearly and will always have the front door we brought Caroline home through.  It will always be the first house we owned.  

This little house, in the middle of nowhere with its four sad outbuildings and broken glass in the driveway.  This little house with its eviction notice on the door.  This little house, where I cried on the front porch.

So, maybe we are looking for a house.  Or maybe we're looking for a home.  The PERFECT one.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A more than reasonable facsimile

Occasionally, for the public good, I find that it's important to share significant information that I have come across.  And in this case, I think you will agree that this information is nearly essential to living a happier, more fulfilled life.

When we go to New York, one of the places we have to hit is Brownie's drive in in Wilson.  They serve Perry's ice cream, which is one of those regional brands that ought to be worldwide but then again oughtn't, so that it's sort of a secret.  Every year they have a new flavor that makes me want to wallow in a tub filled with their ice-creamy goodness, and this year they most definitely did not disappoint.

Behold:  Perry's Red Velvet ice cream.  Red velvet flavored ice cream, with cream cheese flavored swirl.  

Now, I know what you're thinking.  "Okay, okay, enough with the trendy red velvet crap, yeah, it's probably good, but it's 10 times better in your head because you think you're being hip."  

I say to you:  Shut it.

I've been to Florence, okay?  I've had freaking gelato that made me want to provide Mario behind the counter with whatever services he might have needed at the time.  I've had Blizzards and Flurries and Gotta Have Its and A&W root beer floats.  I've had Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry's and the flavor of the year at the UW dairy school.  I'm from WISCONSIN.  I don't just like ice cream--I UNDERSTAND ice cream.

And that was the BEST ICE CREAM I HAVE EVER HAD.  Period.  End of story.

But carrying ice cream home from New York is just not practical.  Though I did explore the option of dry ice, I decided it was just best left in Wilson, at Brownies and all the other great drive-ins, and in my sweet memory of my short-lived but passionate affair with Perry's Red Velvet and a plastic spoon.

So imagine my joy when I saw this.

Enough joy, as it turned out, for me to drive 30 minutes to the nearest store that I knew would have it in stock.  (Please ignore Duff on the container.  We'll discuss bad cooking/reality shows later, and how I hate all these cakebaking series that are all over.)  

Since then, I've been made aware that Ben & Jerry also make a red velvet ice cream.  I'm sure it's lovely.  But I can't offer any comment on it, and really, I think my red velvet ice cream search is going to be over before it begins.  It's like when you really, really, really want a diet Coke and all you can get is diet Pepsi.  Sure, if I'm dying of thirst, it'll work, and I won't die from it, but would I rather have actual soda instead of flat brown water?  Yes yes I would.

And you know, for $3.89 and the price of gas, it wasn't bad.  It's not Perry's.  Sweet Jesus and the patron saint of ice cream, that's for sure.  But it's pretty darn good.  And so I give it the Reasonable Facsimile Stamp of Approval for coming close enough to do in a pinch. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Home is the sailor...

...home from the sea, or at least Lake Ontario.  We had a beautiful vacation and a great visit with family.  I also found my dream farm:
but that's a story for another day.

The one big goal I had on our trip was to visit a big flea market.  Major fail.  The only one we found--the one that's supposed to be the biggest one in WNY, ZOMGAMAZEBALLS--was only one building, just an antique mall.  To be fair, the flea market was supposed to be on Sunday, but it was a Saturday!  Who doesn't have a flea market open on Fourth of July Saturday?!  Oh well.  Maybe next time.

So instead I had to content myself with some Goodwill shopping.
Found these little beauties for $2 each at Goodwill in Lockport.  I didn't know I was looking for sconces, but as soon as I saw them I knew that they needed to live in my dining room. 

I gave them the ol' weathered white treatment, but this time with a twist.  After giving them a little sanding, I mixed metallic silver acrylic paint with the regular white acrylic.  The ratio here was about 5:1 in favor of white.  I didn't want silver sconces, but I thought adding just that little bit of greyish silver sparkle would set off the grey in the dining room.  I put one sloppy coat on, intending to put on a second, but the first coat worked out perfectly.  The sparkle gives them a soft sheen that catches the light in the dining room beautifully, and no sanding required to weather at the end.  Win!

Next, to do something with these little candlestick holders.  I found two purplish beeswax candles at Goodwill for $0.50 that I intended to use, but after Shiny Paint Job I decided that they still looked pretty blah.  Of course, we're familiar with my Mason jar fetish, so obviously, these demanded some jar action as well, right?  Time for a trip to Michaels...

And (as Caroline would say), "Preeeeee-senting...JARS!"  Votive size canning jars.  Perfect.  (Sorry about the flash glare.  I need a new camera.) 

I did get another sweet deal at Goodwill that will be the subject of some future attention.  But for now, I gotta get back to real life and start studying for my classes this quarter.  Ack.  Furthering my education had better not interfere with my blog reading and/or craft creating and/or my recent addiction to Angry Birds (dude, I got a Nook Color and all I can say is, so worth the money and not just for the stupid game). 

Happy July.  Where does the time go?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Favorite Things 3

Far be it from me to say that on occasion, crafts get out of control. Cause I certainly make (or half-make, sometimes) all sorts of crap that I think is the most gorgeous thing ever.

But sometimes, you just gotta get out of the way and enjoy the beautiful things that just happen.

(Can I just add, these are like the smelliest lilacs EVER? The entire house smells amazing from just one bunch. Even Dan mentioned it. Hooray flowers!)

My parents celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary yesterday.  Pretty cool. 

Going on vacation to visit Dan's parents this weekend. We'll be in NY for two weeks. We have a couple of flea market trips planned, and of course Lake Ontario will be there for much picture-snapping. Maybe it's summer there...cause it's 45 and foggy here again.  Not that I'm complaining.  I'll take this over 90 and humid anytime.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Instant gratification

I was working on a gift for someone when Caroline came over to the table and said, "Mommy, will you paint me a wood with letters?"

Could you say no to that face?

Me neither. 

And so, a wood, with letters.

One hour, start to finish.  Caroline's reaction?  "Wooooowwwwww."  Mommy: +1.

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's a dog eat dog world...

...and today I'm wearing MilkBone underwear.

Today is my first day off for the summer. As per usual, I have an entire list--well, okay, several lists, and lists of the lists, and no, I'm not making that up--of things that I wanted to get done today.

Task 1: Hang shelves.
These are not complex shelves. These are 1x8s, cut into 4' lengths. Two of them. Screw the brackets into the wall, put the shelf on the brackets. Repeat.

Enter plaster walls.

If you have a house that doesn't have plaster walls, 1) I hate you and 2) you have no idea why this is such a bad thing. Drywall, you drive the screw in, it stays, you hang your stuff, you move on with life. Plaster, not so much. If you're lucky, you will get through the plaster with your drill and hit a piece of lath behind, into which you can drive your screw. Alternately, you could use those little plastic sheath things that I ran to Menards to get. They still didn't help. You know why? Because PLASTER WALLS SUCK. That's why. I appreciate that 120 years ago they were the bomb but you know what? My shelves are 21st century, baby.

So from 9:30 this morning to 2:00 this afternoon (with a lunch break included that possibly included one of the best margaritas I've ever had--not bad, this summer vacation thing), I have toiled at shelf-hanging. And what do I have to show for it, you ask?

I'm not even going to tell you what items 2, 3 and 4 were on today's list. Instead, I'm going to lay on the couch, watch a bad true-crime show, eat some Sun Chips and think about all the laundry I need to do.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happily Ever After (or how the ficus met the lampshade)

Once upon a time, there was a ficus.
It was a rather unremarkable ficus, the kind that you find in the dentist's reception room.  For some reason, I thought that it would be PERFECT in my living room.  And there it sat, in a corner, for about a year.  Did I mention that at one point I thought it needed lights, so I wrapped a string of Christmas twinkle lights attached to fake pine needles around the trunk?  No?  Okay, good.  Cause that would have been embarrassing.

Also once upon a time, there was a lampshade.
He was a very sad lampshade, because he lived at Target on the clearance shelf all by himself.  He had been marked down to $4.99 but still, nobody wanted him.  That is, of course, until I spied him in all his navy blue wonderfulness and snagged him.  Did I have a lamp that was within a foot of having the right scale for this beauty?  Nope.  But I didn't care.  

And so, after many squints and some tilted heads, it dawned on me:  the ficus and the lampshade were meant to be together.  I unwound the Christmas lights from the trunk, I sawed one of its three trunks down to the ground (did you know those things are made of real wood?  I sure didn't!), and I ran a couple of coats of leftover white paint across the pot to dress up the bride.  

Then it was time for the wedding.

First, I used heavy duty adhesive glue to attach the cord to the back of one of the trunks.  I ran the adhesive all the way down the back, then used twist ties to hold it in place while the glue set up. 

(Truth be told, I should have used a brown cord but Menards was out of 8' brown lamp cords and it was my 15th trip there in about 3 days and I was BURNED OUT.  I just wanted to get home and like, glue something.)

Next step was to create a platform for the lamp socket, and to hold the trunks in place.  Dan helped out with that one.  We took a scrap piece left over from some bed slats and drilled holes in it to hold the trunks.  A little assistance from the hammer and the rubber mallet and the trunks were definitely solid.  We drilled a hole for the cord and wired up the socket. 

(Need a quick wiring tutorial?  WikiHow explains how to create a lamp out of anything.)

And that was it!  Here's how it turned out:

 Right?!  It's certainly better than when it was a fake tree. 

My favorite part, though, has to be the pullchain.  The bird was leftover from the lantern I turned into the light fixture in the living room.  He just looks right, hangin' out in the not-tree.

So there you have it.  Ficus and lampshade:  a match made in heaven.  Isn't it bizarre and great?
Organize and Decorate Everything

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The rapture really IS upon us...

...and these pictures prove it.

I'm sorry, whose living room is this again?  With no toys strewn about, with the dogs sleeping calmly on the couch?  With the rug vacuumed and all the walls and trim repainted?  It can't be mine.  Because if it's mine, then the armageddon has already begun.

Actually, D & C have been gone for a week visiting family, so I've been on a tear.  I replaced moldings, I added trim, I painted the entire living room, I caulked, I built two tables...

Wait, what?

Yep.  I built two tables.  Not the white ones in the middle--those are Target Room Essentials that are fake IKEA Lacks that you buy when it's too far to go to IKEA all the time even though you probably would if you lived anywhere near it.  No, the ones I built are these:

Easy as pie, really, thanks to the brilliant Ana White.  If you've never explored her site, you should stop reading this right away and go be amazed by what this talented lady has created.  Inspiring, seriously.  Then come back.

Okay, back?  Good. 

This side view shows you exactly what's going on here.  The table is basically shaped like a C.  You can see it has a center brace, but what you can't see is really the cool part:  it's on casters that are hidden by the bottom trim.  While the ability to roll is nice, what's truly sweet about these tables is the size.

They fit perfectly under the couch and over the couch armrest.  Whuuuuttt?!  You mean you could eat your dinner on that thing?  You mean when we're watching TV and checking our Facebooks at the same time, we can use that to hold the laptop?  Why yes, Eaton family, it's true: we can continue our bad habit of eating in the living room without having to haul out the TV trays!  We can stay constantly connected to our news feeds, even when the cell batteries are charging!  Huzzah!

I do like the modern design of the piece, and the function was obviously something that was perfect for our family, but I wanted to make them fit in with the cottage style of the living room and dining room.  So I primed them and foam brushed them with Cavalry from Pittsburgh, a super-dark blue.  A thin coat, then some edge sanding, and weathering is complete.  I love that the grain of the wood still shows through. 

I added a basket on the bottom of each to hold magazines and whatnot, and voila.  New end tables, for about $20 each.  Sweet!

And now if I get taken up to heaven, I'll have something else to talk to Jesus about:  carpentry!  (Sacrilege?  I'm not sure...)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cage Match

The chandelier made me so happy that I decided to go on a lighting spree in the living room, as well. I saw a pendant light made from a birdcage and immediately my little mason-jar-obsessed mind was all over it...

This replaced a tulip-shaped pendant that we never used. There’s no overhead light in our living room, as in none wired, so we’ve been relying on the dining room and foyer fixtures, in conjunction with a couple of lamps and this pendant. The tulip was milk glass, and though it was pretty it didn’t give us much light. By virtue of being clear and being open all around, this has helped, though now that I see it in the room I’m pretty sure I want to hang a matching one in the other corner.

The birdcage came from Michaels, and the jar was laying around somewhere. The cage was really a hurricane candle lantern, so now I also have a hurricane cylinder I can use on something else. almost looks like a mason jar...

PS:  See that grey color on the walls?  The one I mentioned that sucks every particle of light out of the room?  That's going away this weekend.  And the whites on the molding and the beadboard will match, too, that I just noticed are totally dissimilar in this photo. Whee!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Favorite things

Too often I spend time looking at the dog hair accumulated on the couch or the dishes I haven’t done and I forget to enjoy the little corners of the house that I’ve created that make me happy.  So once in a while, I’m going to document some of those little nooks and crannies that have turned out just the way I planned.

First one is the typewriter.  This green beast was actually my grandmother’s, someone who I adore to this day and miss terribly.  My mom rescued it from her house before the auction, and I’m so glad she did.  It means a lot to me not just because of the association with Grandma but also because I have fond memories of banging away on typewriters when I was little, both at my own house and at the house of a family friend who encouraged me to write.  Words have always been the most important thing to me, whether written by me or someone else, and the sound of a typewriter clacking away is the sound I think of when I think of creativity.

When I put the typewriter out, it most obviously needed to be at work.  So I typed my favorite quote on a sheet of paper. 
There comes a special moment in everyone's life, a moment for which that person was born.  That special opportunity, when he seizes it, will fulfill his mission--a mission for which he is uniquely qualified.  In that moment, he finds greatness.  It is his finest hour.
--Winston Churchill

I’m fairly sure it was the first decorative thing I put out in our house, and I feel like that’s important.  I’ve left the same sheet in there and have never dusted it (that’s not the only thing in this house that probably hasn’t been dusted, now that I think about it...), and it’s starting to get yellowy and dirty around the edges and I love it.  I can almost pretend that it’s the ACTUAL SHEET that Churchill ACTUALLY TYPED--well, okay, he dictated it to his secretary, who was named Elizabeth, because all good English secretaries in WWII were named Elizabeth and also because Google told me that was her name--and it was in the secret war tunnels when the Blitz was on and he was smoking a cigar and you could hear the bombs landing and he was writing the big important speech that was going to WIN THE WAR. 

But I digress.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hey, nice jugs...

Nice can? I don’t know. I feel like there was a joke in there somewhere.

Anyway, the long-awaited mason jar chandelier. As my Mother’s Day present last weekend, Dan hung this sucker for me from the ceiling. He wired it into the existing electrical from the previous fixture, and then I threw the switch. And darned if the thing didn’t actually TURN ON.

Our house suffers from being rather dark, partly because of the trees all over in our yard that we love, and partly because I thought it was a great idea to paint the living room a dark grey that is really a lovely color but sucks every photon that hits it. (More on changing that up later.) So we were nearly blinded when we turned on the 256 watts of pure, clear, old school power. It’s changed the whole feel of the first floor, not just stylistically but functionally. You know how you never really notice something until it’s not there? Well, the absence of darkness is amazing.

About the chandelier: plans came from Kara Pasley Designs. The idea for the board comes from one of her commenters, whose fixture you can see here. I used a 1x4 and several layers of paint and scuffing to make it look somewhat distressed, though I didn’t go the whole nine yards on that. We still need to address the fixture cap (you might be able to see some wire nuts peeking out if you look closely), but otherwise, the hooks and eyes we used to hang it worked great. The jars are ones I had laying around, for the most part, though I did buy those little fat ones for $9.00. All told, we’re looking at approximately $50 and about 5 hours of work, on and off...which would have been more like 2 if I hadn’t had to rewire the sockets about 20 times due to me being d-u-m. It’s all a learning process, people...and boy do I learn a lot...

A couple more pictures:
Eventually, when the dining room table is cleared off from all the minutiae associated with the 14 projects I have running right now, I'll take a picture of the whole room. For now, I'm off to finish one of those and try to get closer to clean.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Family Sign

Okay then! Now we're getting somewhere past the emotional blah blah blah, huh?

First project of last weekend: The Eaton sign. I love those signs that you see at the end of the long driveways that lead to someone's beach house. Sometimes they have clever little titles for their houses like the Dewdrop Inn or Simon's Folly or something, but I think I mostly prefer the plain, weathered ones. They make me think about all the memories that have been created for the families that live there.

These kinds of things are all over Etsy in shops like Signs of a Daydreamer and Signs by the Sea, but of course I didn't want to fork out $25+ for one. So I hit Michaels and came up with a reasonab--well, you know.

The wooden plaque cost me $2.49. It has 3 coats of different acrylic paints, the kind that come in the $0.50 bottles, and it's been sanded and weathered a bit. The lettering is done with a paint pen. I play around with fonts until I find something I like (gotta love, and then I use old fashioned carbon paper to transfer it to the wood. (I know some people prefer to cut it out and stencil but that drives me as though I were n u t s.) Trace over and voila. To fill in, I used the pen in a scribbly sort of manner, and then sanded over it lightly to blend it and weather it to the same level as the rest of the sign.

So, total cost: $5.00. It's gonna live next to our front door, as soon as my husband and I can figure out the best way to fasten it to our shingle siding.

Also, I need a new camera.

You have to start somewhere...

...and we might as well start in my neuroses.

Last weekend I decided a lot of things. First off, I decided that I am happiest when I'm in the midst of what we call "projects" in this house. Sometimes it's crafty, sometimes it's in the garden, sometimes it's cooking, but it's always related to creating. I need an outlet.

I also decided that I wanted to share some of this stuff with the world. Now, normally my perfectionist tendencies wouldn't allow such a public display--way too much opportunity for people to point out flaws. Or to point and laugh at their laptops and say, "What the living ?!*& is that supposed to be?!" But it occurred to me that that attitude is 1) self-centered, because it assumes that there's actually someone *reading* it; and 2) self-defeating, because why not share it, give and get ideas, have some community?

Decision number three: quit being jealous of other people's skills if I'm not going to put myself out there in the same way. My friend Nikki over at The Lovely Residence inadvertently broke me of that one. I used to read blogs and try to console myself that the men & women creating them were probably jerks, even if they did have cute houses and cute kids and clever writing skills. So when I found out that Nikki has this cute little blog (with a cute little kid on the way, damn her), I refused to read it at first, precisely because I know that Nikki's not actually a jerk. Baaah! Illusion ruined! So I had to analyze what, exactly, was going on at The Lovely Residence. And then, there it was. Nikki fixed up her backsplash with some cute-ass little decals, right? Yeah, well, I fixed mine up that way six months ago! So...yeah! Take that! And I have a camera! Yeah! Go!

Then I told my friend CG, my self-appointed life coach, about it. I knew she would sarcastically provoke me into actually creating a post. This is the kind of life coach she is.

Reasonable Facsimile started as an idea a long, long time ago for a cooking show, actually. A friend and I would go to a restaurant, try out amazing food, and then come home and create--wait for it--A REASONABLE FACSIMILE for less. Then, as I got more and more about design and decorating and remodeling our house, it became apparent that we needed more than just food fakery. Not just pretty things around the house, either, but a reasonable facsimile of the life that we're "supposed to have"--the one where I'm skinny, and my dogs don't shed, and my daughter puts her toys away every night and my husband loves to do dishes.

So, that's where Reasonable Facsimile is coming from. As I look at the beautiful blogs out there--and I mean beautiful--I wonder how these people do it. But then I look at my life, and I think, you know, even if it's not perfect, it's a reasonable facsimile.

Honest: next thing has pictures of something I made. Read on.