Thursday, June 30, 2011

What Did She Bring Home This Time?

I was pretty excited to go to my favorite thrift store yesterday morning soon after they opened.  It didn't take me long to fill up the cart for a grand-total of 25 dollars.  Here's my favorite find of the day. 

And just how did this bike make it into my possession?  Well, my friends at the thrift store tell me that this bike hit the display floor early this week. A man attempted to switch the 10 dollar price tag to a 25 cent tag at the checkout.  He was caught and the bike was put in the back for a couple of days lest he come back and attempt the same trick.  It went back on the floor just in time for me to buy it instead!

I haven't spent any time cleaning it up, but this little 18 inch gem was made in the 1960s.  I think it was the spoke covers that really sold me!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This Ain't Working

Two or is it three?  weeks into summer, and we still have not exactly found our rhythm.  And unlike summers in the past, there is no camp or trip to Nana and Poppa's to look forward to. (shhhh, I haven't broken the bummer news on that last one yet.) Going into summer, I had just one or two expectations, (or so I thought), of being relaxed with the kids and just hanging out around the pool, combating my workaholicism.  I even talked with a friend about helping one another plan fun things to do. 

So far, it has been anything but relaxed.  I have found myself totally on edge, snapping at everyone, frustrated with myself, and downright angry with the kids.  I am appalled by my own behavior, alternating between making excuses and making lists for myself.  "How's the workaholic thing going, Vanessa?"  I would say kinda lousy.

Finally, in a sit-down with Robb (punctuated by at least 4 interruptions), it starts to clear up for me.  I'm a work-at-home mom and I just added three people into my life and routine.  And then I wondered why it wasn't working. Duh. I failed to adjust my expectations.  Summer means kids, pool and garden need my attention now too.  It's no wonder I was angry and on edge. I've been trying to do too much. 

I've been reading Geri Scazzero's book "I Quit."  Geri is Peter Scazzero's wife and co-writer of the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book that Robb and I read last summer and then studied as a church together at Vintage this year.  I'd like to have coffee with Geri.  Actually, I would have liked to have coffee with Geri when I was 25.  That would have been really helpful.  Last night I was reading her chapter on Anger, Sadness and Fear.  It seems so elemental, but she wrote, "Through anger, God may help us discover what we really want, get us to pay attention to  even deeper emotions, help us identify unmet expectations and sometimes, see the folly of our sin." 

I was annoyed with myself for being angry. It didn't match with what I wanted to be this summer. I felt defeated by my emotions as I saw myself pushing Robb and the kids away by my brusque attitude.  I could feel myself slipping further and further into a negative quicksand that I couldn't seem to escape. 

Now what?  Well, I'm blogging.  That's healthy.  I'm having coffee with a first time to get out of the house alone can't remember exactly.   I've asked Robb to make dinner a couple of nights a week and help with menus to help shoulder the load of feeding my three charming Bottomless Pits three times a day.  And I've made a schedule for the days that helps me keep track of what I need to accomplish daily. And we realized how much we have missed our family morning prayers since school ended, so we're trying to have them in the evening now.  Probably the biggest difference, though, is recognizing unrealistic expectations.

So I'm curious about other work-at-home moms and dads.  How are you managing your summer work-load? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Things I Make - The Decoupage Bike

When I do a show, I hear at least 25 people say, "I'm going to do that. I have stuff saved in a box to do that."  Another 20 people ask, "Do you teach classes?"  I would, I suppose, but I would have to actually DO it. And I just have stuff saved somewhere to teach a class. I'm going to do that sometime.... for now, I'm just going to show you how to do things on my blog.

This morning, I'm going to show how I made my decoupage bike.  Which is in Eureka Springs right now.  But I'm going to get it and bring it home to Fayetteville this week.  Sometime. You know, in all my free time.  That I always think I'm going to have in the summer. When in reality, I have three times as much to do and less time to do it in. Because I sleep in til 7:30.  Because I CAN!

So the bike....

First I collected images from 1950s travel magazines of bikes. I trimmed them a bit, but waited to really trim them until I knew where I was going to place them on the actual bike.

Then, for some contrast and interest, I pulled maps from a torn 1900s geography book. This was great to work with because the pages were quite thick, but they were also fragile because they were so old.  The paper gets tissue thin when you add the glue, so you have to really think about how you are  going to use the paper before you glob it up.

The bike, I should mention, was a 10 dollar score at Potter's House Thrift. I was at the back of the store (ok, I was leaving the bathroom!  I had a lot of coffee with Kathy  that morning) and saw it on my way to the front where I was going for a cart.  A man was walking toward me when I literally grabbed the handle bars without breaking stride. I just knew by the shape of it that it was what I wanted, and glancing down to see the 10 dollar price tag just confirmed my hopes.  The man coming my direction let out a "OH MAN!  as the bike went past him.  "Original pedals!"  He declared.  He would have swooped my bike up if I had not grabbed it that second.  My friend Grace would not rest until she discovered it was not a Schwinn, as I assumed, but rather a Manton and Smith Golden Eagle Pacer.  

I always really struggle to know if I'm going to alter a vintage item.  There are two chairs in my garage right now that I'm wrestling with this very second.  There are two things I just never want to do...wreck a truly fine antique or use bad grammar on a tv interview (so far in the two tv interviews I have done, I managed to use correct grammar. Life goal accomplished.)  All that to say, I do a lot of research before radically alter something old.

This bike, however, had been unevenly oversprayed somehow with what looked like polyurethane and would have had to be stripped completely to restore it.  It would have been equal work to take it back as it would to take it foreward, so I dug in.

This would probably be a good outdoor project, since the glue and paper fall all over the place, but it was pouring rain when I worked on this and also, it looked pretty in my studio.  So that's where I did it.

I used a brush to paint on Modge Podge, smoothed out the paper as I went, adding small strips to cover all the metal.  When the glue dried, I covered it with three coats of Modge Podge, waiting for about 15 minutes between each coat.  I let this harden completely before spraying the whole thing with Krylon triple thick glaze to seal it. (Don't worry, I sprayed it outside. It had stopped raining by then.)

Because the original striped seat was also oversprayed with the nasty yellowed polyurethane or ???  I spray painted the seat as well.  I started with a tangerine orange but switched to bubblegum pink, both colors in the antique maps.

The bike should be fully functional and could be hosed off if needed.  Should a person decoupage a bike? Why would they want to?  That falls in the realm of true artistic opinion. I did it because I wanted to. The bike could be used as is or it could be hung as a sculptural piece. Obviously, using it will result in wear and tear. I'm fine with it either way.  I just want it to be loved. ******** Follow up notes: This will fade in sunlight and you must get the spray sealer all the way UNDER the fenders to prevent water from seeping into the paper on the top of the fenders. And lastly, this bike has been sold!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Things I Love

If you visit my actual blog, not just read it in a blog reader or on facebook or whatever, you may have noticed the little widget (I love that widget is an official word) on my sidebar.  I have one that shows stuff in my own Etsy shop up in the tabs across the top, but I really love the one on the side because it shows off the things I have noticed in my travels through Etsy-land and marked as favorites.

The reason this is so cool is that when my birthday or some other gift-giving holiday rolls around, my sweet husband scrolls through this magic assortment and buys me presents!  Which is why I am really careful about what I mark as a favorite;  some people just "Heart" things willy-nilly, but my favorites are almost more curated than my own shop.   

At the top of my list is this necklace that Robb bought for me for Christmas.  It's pretty obvious why I would be drawn to china. And up-cycling (that's when you use something old to make something new but's not up-cycling if you are just making more junk to say that you used junk...that's why is in business).   Broken china jewelry isn't rare, but I think that The Broken Plate has a great take on this kind of jewelry.  It has a modern feel that isn't too granny.  It's all about the china and how great it is;  it's not, "Oh, I'm so cool...I used a plate in my jewelry."  It's a subtle difference, but a good one. I'm sure there are lots of copy-cats wrapping up broken shards into jewelry, but this artist has a consistently beautiful product.

The other plus about this seller is that she is wildly successful.  I love seeing sellers that are really making their craft work for them and setting a great example for the rest of us how to do it.  Juliet Ames is doing just fine without my plug for her.  I love the fact that the same person that made my necklace made one that Rachel Ray is wearing.   Find out more about her here:

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Sometimes, I just need things to change. And change takes so much time.  So I do what any sane, rational person does....I cut off all my hair to get the change-ball rolling.  I look in the mirror and think, "I cannot seem to do anything about anything, but I can cut off my hair!"  And then next thing I know, bam, wam, POWIE!  I have a new blog set-up, a new banner for my etsy store, and I am thin and organized.  Ok, maybe not the last two, but a girl can dream.

I have been in a funk for a while now with my blog. I haven't really known where it was going anymore.  When I started blogging over six years ago, it was because I needed an outlet to comment on the adventure of starting Vintage.  Now, Vintage is  5 years old and Facebook is the place for pictures of my kids on their first day of school.  But the thought of closing down my blog felt like murdering a friend.  And I still really like blogging....much more than I like tweeting.  So I decided to just tweet about my blog. And blog about the things I still really finding beautiful things in real life and in the cyber world of Etsy, making things, sharing my heart and soul, and occasionally making fun of weird stuff that amuses me. 

Incidentally, the one thing that has been constant in all this time?  The house in Michigan still hasn't sold.  Proof positive that the more things change, the more they stay the same....

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

It's the Last Day of School

This school year has flown by...I don't think I ever felt like I got on top of it.  And I think I spent the entire month of May writing a check for five dollars for this or that field trip.  The kids love to inform me of what is coming soon.  "Hey mom, in two years, we'll be in three different schools!"  Yikes.  Color me scattered.

Last year, the summer was planned to the enth degree with trips all over the country, camps and more.  But we bonked on filling out the camp forms this year, so we are only on the waiting list. And neither of our cars is really road worthy for a cross-country trek.  So I don't know what we are going to be doing this summer.

So I am going to dream a little. I am dreaming of saying yes to the kids as often as I possibly can.  Yes to the library and going to garage sales and having friends over and going to friend's houses.  And I am putting together a little list of things I can teach them if I just take the time....practical things like how to wash their own clothes, but also things we just always seem too busy for:  teaching Mattie to sew on her groovy vintage sewing machine.  Showing Vin new techniques on the digital camera.  Reading the Little House on the Prairie books with Charleigh.  

One of the big negatives about being a workaholic is that I operate in two speeds:  Super-fast go mode and basically dead.  I rarely function in a low-gear, steadily productive, energy saving, balanced way.  I don't even know what that looks like or if people really do work like that at all.  I've spent the last few weeks since recognizing my workaholic problem in the part of my crazy cycle where I don't do anything.  I'm too worn out.  I've been running full-tilt since February.  I'm exhausted.  I need rest.  I am conscious of trying to rest.  But soon, I will be tempted to ramp up again.  I can feel my curiosity returning, which usually leads to taking on projects.  With nothing particularly stressful happening during the summer, I can usually keep it under control, but with the season change in the fall, I will launch into another cycle of crazy.  I'd like to avoid that cycle if possible.  I'd like to try to plan for it and keep myself from going to that place that is so destructive to myself, my family and my relationships.

So I am dreaming of an industrious summer this year.  One in which I use each day to accomplish real goals. But also a summer when I shut down early each night and sit on the patio with my husband and recognize how good we have it. A summer that I don't regret. A summer when I don't run away from my kids and hide behind work.  I find the thought kind of challenging, but I know that sleeping in til 7:30 every day will really help!

Friday, June 03, 2011

I KNEW he looked familiar.

Thanks to the wonder of Netflix, I was watching Family Ties, when I finally figured out who Vin reminds me of. 
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