A Sudden Burst of Energy

My husband and I are serial remodelers. I know some of you can relate. Both of us are wired as unstructured, artistic/creative types and although it’s fun — we struggle with completing projects. It’s probably because we have 100 projects started and only enough time and $$ to finish, oh, say . . . one.

However, since moving my upholstery studio back home over a year ago, the plan has been to finish out the garage so that I can move all my tools, massive work table and supplies out of my house. It may be a year overdue, but I’m happy to report that last week it happened! What’s more, it happened in exactly one day. Scott took the week off from work, our kids were surprisingly self occupied and it just . . . happened. Sort of. First Scott felt the large window needed to be moved up to match the height of the other windows, so that ate up a day. Then he spent another day’s worth of time framing the walls with 2×4’s.

Scott used a gift card to buy the 2×4’s for framing. He scrounged some salvage wood from his ample supply to frame the windows.
The insulation came from another salvaged stockpile. We’ve had bags of insulation in the garage loft waiting to be used for years.
Not only does the salvaged insulation get used in the walls, but now the garage loft is that much more cleared out.
The plywood was purchased new, but buying exactly what we needed made this project go quickly.
New wall mounted lights were another long-stored supply from Scott’s free collection. The guy is a salvage magnet!

Now that was a good day’s work! I can’t promise I’ll be more prolific with upholstery projects. I’m still at somewhat of a crossroads with my work future. But, when inspiration does strike, it’s nice to know I can commute 10 steps to an organized, dedicated space. It’s probably one of the biggest projects to be crossed off the list and that feels good. Really good.

Tablescape 101

When it comes to design, I struggle with detail. Large furniture choices and placement — no problem. Knick knack, display shelves, tablescapes — forget it. I like things a bit more sparse I guess. But over one’s life, one collects a fair amount of items that either have sentimental meaning or add a splash of personality here and there. For us, we have so many windows in our house that a solid wall to hang artwork is nearly nonexistent. We have a buffet and an antique burled wood table in the dining room and living room that have been assigned tables cape duty.
Shells and rocks collected by my guys are every-changing in their display.
There’s really no rhyme or reason to the things on this buffet!
Every once in awhile, I am seized by an overwhelming need to bring home something quirky from a flea market or junk show. Last year at Farm Chicks, I brought home this little gem that I named Lachlan in honor of my neighboring vendor that I bought him from.
There was just something about this ratty little guy that I found compelling.
It was almost like he was SO bad he was cool. My mom doesn’t agree.

Now as much as I try to be deliberate about the things displayed here, it is admittedly haphazard and always changing. But this morning as I was working on the computer right next to the buffet I noticed something. It was something I didn’t put there.

Can’t robots and dinosaurs just get along?
I wonder who’s winning.
It might be a pretty close match.

I think the reason these guys prompted me to write this post is that I know there are only a few more years of sweet surprises like this left. As much as my house is a constant swirling disaster left in the wake of busy, messy boys . . . every once in awhile I take pause and appreciated this time in my life. I am loving this age of my guys so much — much, much more than I ever thought I would.

Now, just wait and see. I’ll snap out of my happy stupor as soon as I get a call from a frustrated teacher or protective parent or trail of mud winding its way through the house. But for now while the house is quiet and I have the luxury of time to myself, I am grateful for little reminders on a tabletop.

Anticipating Summer

image found at fleaingfrance.tumblr
As I write this post, there is a fine and steady drizzle that makes the leaves and grass blades twitch outside my window. The lake has a thick glob of fog over it like a sort of gigantic whipped topping. The house is quiet and I am desperately trying to avoid cleaning up the kitchen for the 4th time in 24 hours.

As much as it’s tempting to feel a little gloomy on a day like this, I almost feel more of a sense of renewal. This rain is cleansing the palate for the entree to come in a sense. That’s how most of us in the Pacific NorthWest feel about this time of year. In fact, I was daring myself yesterday to not use the heat in the house from May 1 until next fall.

We were dabbling a bit in the yard yesterday which prompted me to ask my husband if he thought it was possible to have one section of our landscape that could be complete enough by summer to use as an extension of the house. In the summertime I eat nearly every meal outside — because I can! (usually — last summer was an exception…) But there’s something a bit disappointing with trying to enjoy lunch in a beat up $8.99 fold up camping chair from the drug store.

I do have a cute little bistro set on a section of brick walkway that comes close to the vision in my mind, but honestly, it’s not all that comfortable — and it only seats 2. No, I dream of an enchanting courtyard. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to this little dream. Here are some of my favorites.

via apartment therapy
via garden-of-magical-moondust.tumblr.com
via mariahinafrica.blogspot.com
via ohhappyday.com

Last summer I remember thinking it would’ve been nice to tackle projects in the springtime so that we could simply maintain and enjoy the yard in the summer. With May and June in sight, I think it’s possible to isolate one part of the yard at least. That’s the hope anyway. My husband DID say he thought it was possible too — which bodes well for my little dream. Bring on the sunshine!

Quirky Is Good

I’ve started a collection of sorts — pretty much by accident. A couple summers ago I picked up this painting at 2nd Saturdayz Market in Seattle on a whim. There was just something light hearted and happy and quirky about this guy that compelled me to bring him home.

I included him in the gallery composition that I’m slowly compiling in my entryway. He’s mixed in with old family photos, Owen’s Mona Lisa and other pieces of artwork. 
See? There he is down in the corner.

Well, this past weekend, I was again at 2nd Saturdayz. Lo and behold, I found this little gem.

So, of course, I HAD to bring her home. She looks like a Margaret, I think. I will add her to the ever growing mix in the entryway (as much as my mom disapproves) because I think they can’t help but make you smile. Whether you’re coming to or leaving my house, I hope everyone does so with a smile.

What about you? What collections do you have that are a bit on the quirky side? What in your home makes you smile?

The Lesson of the Paper Tooth

I’ve recently come across this quote a few times around the internet and it’s become a sort of pep talk for myself. It’s by Ira Glass, host and producer of radio’s syndicated This American Life.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” 
 Ira Glass



So I’ve BEEN fighting my way through this. Every day I go through the litany of self doubt: Am I any good at this at all? Should I be doing something else? Can I AFFORD to keep doing this?

But for whatever reason, I DON’T create every day. I stall. I waver. I second guess EVERYTHING. And I’m not satisfied. I’m not filled. I’m not . . . myself.

But I know someone who creates every day. He creates paintings, sculptures, drawings, stories, contraptions, comic strips, cards and 3D paper objects (to name a few). He creates because he’s compelled. He creates because it occurs to him. He creates because creativity is at the very heart of his wiring. He’s 8 and he’s my son.

Now some of you cynical types may be tempted to stop reading. “Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . another mommy bragging about their kid.” (Confession — I MAY be one of these cynical types . . . ) BUT I think I’m at that stage of parenting where my kids are teaching me as much as I’m teaching them. And thank God for that! My personal development didn’t end at 18. In fact it’s only recently that I’ve begun to embrace my gifting and wiring. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to believe that MAYBE I’m creative after all. But my creativity didn’t look or feel or have the intended effect that I thought it should.

I’ve taken the past 3 months off — intentionally. Financially it seemed irresponsible. But I think my soul needed the break. I don’t know that I’m any closer to an absolute decision of any kind, but I do know I feel refreshed. I know that I am discovering creativity in things I once considered mundane. I know now that I’m not really being truly creative when I alter my vision for a piece of furniture to fit within what I THINK the potential customer would want.

Last night, my husband handed me a little piece of folded and taped white paper. I asked him what it was. “It’s a tooth,” he said. Of course it was a tooth. Owen, my 8 year old, has a habit of letting his teeth fall out when they’re ready. He hates wiggling them. So yesterday, his seventh tooth fell out. And as a very natural expression and reflection on the day’s events, he created a paper tooth. It was a very Owen thing to do and one that made my heart leap from whatever that thing is in a mom’s heart that is connected to their child’s heart.

I think I will tuck this paper tooth away. I think I will take out this little paper tooth whenever I need to remind myself of who I am. I’ll take it out whenever I need to remember that my creativity has nothing to do with whether I can sell the product or how many people say nice things about it. It will remind me that the act of creating is what’s important.