Well, shit.

by statia on November 29, 2015

Hey, does anyone actually have this shit still in their feed? Does RSS even exist anymore, or in the two years since I’ve blogged (and the other 3-4 years where I checked out because children and work were definitely NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN)?

So if anyone actually still ever checks this bullshit and we’re not friends on facebook, I figured I’d give a very quick update to my whereabouts. (sorry, if I’ve never really had a conversation with you, a message saying how you know me, if you were to friend me on facebook, is kind of necessary for me to friend you. It’s a comfort thing, you know how it is).

The kids are now eight and six. And one will be NINE in March. Which is so not far away. I know this, because I remember when I was pregnant with him. It feels like yesterday (my ribs still hurt, or that’s phantom pain… Maybe I should go to the doctor).  But I’m trying to make this brief, so I’ll be quick with it, because while I miss dumping my thoughts here, this is a defunct blog, and I’m already BREAKING FUCKING RULES, HERE.

Mini is almost nine. He is doing well. He no longer has support at school, currently, but he will come fifth grade. He currently has an ADHD diganosis, with probably mild Autism, like his father. He’s so smart and is doing well in school. He is in third grade, and we all love his teacher to the point of wanting to make her an honorary family member. After a rough year last year for him, it’s all good.  Like most other nine year-olds, he loves all things Minecraft, Yugi-Oh and Pokémon. They are all the bane of my existence.  He will also definitely surpass his mother in the sarcasm arena. Maybe. If I let him. But suffice to say, his sarcasm is ON POINT (current pop culture reference for extra points!)!

Little Miss is 6 (AND A HALF, GOD MOM), going on 18, naturally. Because she is a girl and a Taurus. She is in first grade and loves her teacher. I love that she goes to the same place all day for 7 hours with her brother. I mean, I love that both of them go. I don’t want to sound like I don’t dislike both of them equally or anything. She also loves her first grade teacher, proclaiming on the first day “Mom, I love her, she NEVER YELLS.” Looking at me, like I could take a page out of this woman’s book.  If that girl only knew.  She also loves everything her brother does, because she idolizes him. She also loves drawing and anything crafty. She hates being outside.

They are both kind and loving kids. Also very funny.

Let’s see: Other banal updates:

Mia is still with us. She’s going blind now, but slowly, so that’s a plus. She’s 10 and overall, in perfect health otherwise. She’s become my little shadow since Gromit passed. I still miss him like crazy, every day. And his ashes and paw print (and picture) sit next to my bed, always and forever.

We still have two Siamese cats. Perry and Chloe. Chloe is my little buddy. Mia and Chloe have a pact. That they must be near me at all times, in case one gets petted and the other one doesn’t. Women are bitches!

We still love the house we moved into a couple of years ago, despite having had to replace everything in it. But it’s an older house. We are currently waiting to start our next project, which is adding a dormer and a bathroom upstairs, so that we can finally stop hitting our heads on the sloped ceiling. So right now, our bedroom is temporarily located in the basement. It’s never a dull moment in the Manger household, that’s for sure.

Me? I’m doing OK. A year and a half ago, I decided that the extra baby weight I had been carrying around for five years, was finally way too long. I know mothers who just decide to keep it forever, or some mothers who don’t want it, but just can’t find the time or energy to work it off. That’s not a judge, because if you’re a mom, you know that even your own secret bathroom that no one knew about would be found by your toddler.  It’s inevitable.

Anyway, I had been working out, mom style. But I just got fed up and decided to get serious. I switched it all up and dropped 25lbs over the last year… and gained some muscle.

IMG_4401 GAINZ BRAH! gainz Handling my shit.

 

I can’t say that I’m not proud of that shit. Because I am. It was a lot of hard work, and sacrifice. It was worth it. Over the last year, I’ve discovered exactly how shitty my untreated reflux is. I have a hernia now. And that’s just that. So I have to actually eat better, because all of the shitty foods (aka, the foods you really want to eat, instead of salad) make me feel nauseated if I eat too much of it. I’m not saying that to be an asshole, because I love cake like I love air. But cake wants me to take smaller bites and eat less, in order for others to also enjoy the cake (FINE, TAKE SOME CAKE). So my body was really just finding a way for me to listen so that I would share.  The good thing is, there’s an alternative way for me to get rid of extra energy.  And now that the kids are in school, the time is there. Because did you think I would be a normal housewife? Fuck that.

I turned FORTY in August. That was part of the reason for my weight lifting ramp up. (It makes the weight come off a lot easier… just an FYI, middle aged ladies. That’s right, we’re fucking middle aged now). Forty. Forty sounds like you went binge drinking with friends and then had to stop in the middle to vomit in the bushes to make room for more alchohol. FOOOOOOOOORTY. Just say it like you’re vomiting. I’ll wait.

Go ahead.

Yeah, it sucks. There aren’t many ages you can do that with. So it’s confirmed that FORTY is the worst. Because you sound like that, but are you really binge drinking with friends on a Saturday night at FORTY? Nope. Probably not.

The Meester ended up surprising me with my hot internet wife. It was a nine month surprise. So her basically showing up in my driveway, from England, was the birth. It was such a fantastic gift, that you don’t really have to wonder why the Meester is still my main squeeze.

Anyway, to wrap up this long blog post that was supposed to be a few sentences to just say that I am onto another venture. Once the kids went back to school, the Meester gave me this look like “Soooo, are you ever going to go back to work?” My voice was squeaky when I said it: “You mean like corporate America?”

I could never go back to corporate America.  Thankfully, we are fortunate that the Meester can support us and I can be the weirdo I am. I now have the time and the ability to go back to being creative.  And because I missed the youtube boom, thanks to gestating and putting all of my energy into the Mini’s therapy, and other baby things that mattered more than working.  Sure there was DIY and I still do some DIY, but it was a way for me to maintain some sense of sanity amidst the brightly colored Fisher-Price nonsense that littered the floor space of my house. I still love it, but it’s not a career for me. I wanted to do something more artistic.

Remember this bullshit?  I’ve decided that this was pretty fun. So I took the idea and ran with it to youtube. I’m calling it Jaded Story Time. I don’t have lofty goals of being the next big thing. I am just having fun, and if I can manage to scrape some extra cash together to put into our vacation fund, it would be cool. If not, I’m the luckiest girl in the world, to have a husband who lets me be me. But seriously, if you could go over there and check it out, because this also a huge exercise in becoming more comfortable with myself.

So, this was longer than I anticipated, but that’s that. If you’re looking to catch up with me, there you go. Once in a while, I get a bee in my bonnet. Or a hare up my ass, or a pitch in my tent and I go all nostalgic. Looking back on the blog posts of others, from the good old days. But I also like to know what some of my favorite people are up to. And I know that goes both ways. So there you go. Subscribe over there and say hi, if you catch up with me over there. I also have instagram and tumblr and twitter too. Tumblr is pretty much vacant, but I occasionally post on the the other two.

 

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New Beginnings, maybe. If I remember

by statia on October 21, 2013

I think it’s time to hang up the hat on this blog. More than 11 years of my life is on here, and it kind of amazes me. But it’s just not me anymore.  I think of the span of time that this has covered. It’s both depressing and crazy.  I was in my 20′s when I started this space. Newly divorced. A young, working professional. I was hip. I was cool.

My 20′s seem like so long ago now.

My age has really seemed to hit me hard this year. I turned 38 in August. I’ve been feeling the effects of that late thirties feeling. Wondering where the the time went. I know full well where it went. But life has a tendency of smacking you hard when you least expect it.  I realize now that there are certain parts of my life that are past. Not only am I done having children, which I was ok with, and am OK with. It’s more likely now that I am getting too old maternally. I can no longer decide that I’m going to go away to college.  My hands don’t look as young as they used to.  I’m by no means old. But yet, I feel these effects and it’s depressing. People say that this is such a better time in your life. On some level, I agree. You’re more comfortable with who you are. I make no apologies for who I am, but I will try to make myself a better person. If for no other reason than personal enrichment. Certain things don’t really matter to me anymore. I don’t get myself fired up about the same things that I used to. I get fired up about things now, that didn’t matter in my youth. Proper etiquette, grammar, being an honest decent human being.  It’s not that I didn’t care about that stuff before, but having kids has made them more important to me.  Making sure that I’m leading by example.  And I don’t pretend to be a good person, I truly want to be a good person.  

And then there’s a part of me that never really felt like an adult. I feel like I’m 12 years-old inside. I one day woke up and was an adult. My childhood is now much more of a hazy memory than it isn’t.  And I’m not alone in this.  We’re all working towards the inevitable end.

So here’s to creating something new. A better way to articulate my life. But this chapter, for as long as I’ve dragged it out, has to come to a close.  It feels liberating to finally let it go.

I’m still working on where I’ll be. But if you want to know, shoot me an email, and I can tell you where I’ll be. I’ll warn you, it’ll probably be much more sharp and frank. I just don’t have a timeframe. Because I’m stubborn.

P.S. I’m not looking for some dramatic grand exit. It’s not good bye. I’m just freeing myself from a site that feels so much more draining than it used to.

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Our house, is a very very very fine house.

by statia on September 4, 2013

I feel as if I don’t know exactly how to really write anymore. I used to have a good flow of hyperbole and sharp humor. Now I’m all “eh.” It just sounds super boring and forced. Even if I feel something.

I know, it’s like exercising. You have to keep at it. And it’s just not on my mind, so I end up writing the same thing. Over and over and over. 

Anyway, we’re officially moving. I spent my summer very meticulously making my house, not my house. I neutralized just about everything. We renovated the kitchen, installed new carpet. Every single person thought we were insane. “What the hell are you doing all of this work for, just to sell it?” Wednesday, they all said incredulously: “YOU SOLD YOUR HOUSE IN TWO DAYS?!?”

Actually, I don’t want to brag, but it was technically about 30 hours.  We put it on the market officially, on Monday afternoon, and by about 10PM Tuesday, we had accepted an offer. They were still installing the new roof while the first showing was going on (we did not pay for the roof, it was covered, after much fighting with the insurance company. But we had storm damage by hurricane Sandy last year), and they STILL made an offer. Even with the yard covered in shingles.  And the biggest compliment I got, was “dude, your house showed SO WELL.” Which makes me immensely proud, but (and seriously, I’m not trying to be a dick) of course it did. I spent the whole god damned summer going over what would seem to most, the stupidest details. My agent was THRILLED to do business with us again, seeing as how I basically just handed my wallet over to her, while she filled out some forms and looked pretty. But she’s absolutely amazing and awesome anyway, so I probably would do that without really even feeling bad about it. Still, I spoiled her.

Part of our success was my perfectionism. But part of this formula was also that there is so little inventory in our area. It was really important for us to stay in our area. We like where we live. But it has so much newer construction. People think that their house is something special, and it’s not. I knew that I would have to make my house show like it was something out of a magazine. The kitchen was the biggest part of that equation.

 

kitchen

I apologize for the shitty picture that I totally stole from the listing site, but of course the agent has the appropriate wide-angle lens, and you know what? I’m on fucking mental vacation right now.

I don’t have a before picture readily available. It’s somewhere but see above re: fucking mental vacation. Suffice to say it was dated and ugly, and not anything remotely like this amazing, sparkly mess. The old kitchen didn’t even have room for an island.

As for our new house, it’s smaller. Which also baffled everyone. Why would you downsize at this point in your life? Listen, ten years ago, I would have wanted some sort of generic mcmansion, but now? No. And I realize how fortunate I am. We are fortunate, but also hard working. I feel like an asshole saying we have too much space, but I’m trying to live with less. Anyone that buys a house knows it’s a giant money pit. I’m trying to make it less of a money pit. We’re OK. We just want more…time. The house is also way more, us. It’s got some charm, a lot of outdoor space, but not so much that it’s overwhelming.  We had our inspection yesterday, which gave me a lot more time to kind of go through and really look at the house.  Some things are a sacrifice, but overall, it made me fall in love with the house so much more.  Also? PROJECT!!!

And yes, people have asked if I will miss this house. Yes, I will miss this house, for all of the anxiety and turmoil it has caused me over the years. This was our first house that we bought. This is the only house that the Mini has known, and Little Girl has ever lived in. I learned to do so many things in this house. I learned that I don’t have to hire for every little thing. It made us capable of DIY and we’re pretty good at it.

The kids are pretty excited too. Little Girl has been there a few times, and already has her room picked out. Unfortunately, Mini has only seen pictures, thanks to his recent adventure called FULL DAY SCHOOL! But they’re both excited about a new house.

For the first time in quite a few years, I’m actually looking forward to fall.  Here’s to new beginnings.

 

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Burning fast and bright.

by statia on June 7, 2013

I’ve never felt as if I’ve learned as much about myself as I have in the last few years. Or maybe it was that I was so bogged down with diapers and routines that I didn’t see anything else around me. Part discovery, part rediscovery. For the first time in my life, I feel so much more comfortable with myself than I ever have before. 

Sometimes it’s one of those things that slaps me in the face. The realization comes abruptly. Other times it’s like opening my eyes and waking up slowly.

One of those things is what I like to call burning fast and bright. I get so into a subject that I go apeshit with it, and then blerrrrrrrrrrrrrgh. I want to sit on the sofa for months and zone out doing absolutely nothing. I may have developed an addiction du jour to the Candy game on the iPad. And those stupid e-cards about neglecting your children for a game may or may not be true.  They were getting fed. Most of the time. OK, fine! My children were taken away by social services and I’m now in a 12-step recovery program and I never want to look at another piece of candy again. Are you happy now?

I’m just saying, it happens that way for me. A friend and I were texting back and forth about this subject. He said “that’s how smart people work. We get bored easily.” Well, shit, then. I must be fucking mensa.

I still love working on furniture, but the drive hasn’t been there. Part of that is lack of working space. Part of that is time. Another part of that is I really am not in love with this house. It’s a perfectly nice house. I hate the layout. And you get to a point where you wonder if putting the money into it is worth it. The Meester was never really on board with moving. After living in this house for six years, I know I don’t need as much space as we have. We have two extra bedrooms that rarely get used. A living room and a dining room that we never use, and a full finished basement that’s mostly empty.  We’re not formal people. A formal living room is the biggest waste of space. Right now, it’s a play room, and a hardly used one at that.

For the past 8 months, we were in the process of adding on a kitchen. We can really only bump out with the way the first floor is laid out. This whole process has become a battle. We’re both so exhausted.

I think we may just be moving. And maybe then I’ll get my home project mojo back. Or maybe I’ll move onto something else. I kind of love working out.  Or maybe I’ll take up Indian rain dancing. Or practicing putting my pants on right side out. I mean, the possibilities are endless.  God, I love ADD.

 

 

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We have a pulse.

by statia on June 5, 2013

We’re winding down with school and activities. The year of hell is almost over, and I’m limping over the finish line. I’ve stopped even opening the Mini’s book bag, because seriously, he’s in kindergarten, and the amount of trees his teacher has killed this year is ridiculous. His bag is filled with ten various worksheets a DAY.

Little Girl turned four last month. For her birthday, she wanted to go to the place where you build your own stuffed animal. We’ll call it “Construct-a-Cat.” I love letting them do what they want, but I was dreading “Construct-a-Cat”. First, her birthday fell on a Saturday. Have you ever been to this place on a Saturday? You need to slip the worker a $20 in order to increase your VIP cred. Plus, I remember when I was a kid, how much I LOVED my stuffed animals. It’s a known fact that stuffed animals are real, and have feelings. At least until you’re 12. Then they become the obligatory boyfriend gift. At some point, you wonder what the hell you’re doing with all of these mite and dust collecting objects of fur and stuffing. If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to get rid of them, so they sit in a garbage bag in your parent’s house. Sometime in your childbearing years, you start to develop a strong loathe for stuffed animals. They multiply. Kids are magnets for stuffed animals. My kids were not huge baby doll kids. Little Girl went through a minor “baby” phase, but it was quickly replaced by stuffed kitties. And now, she’s a full fledged stuffed kitty hoarder.

Of course out of all of the “stuffies,” as my kids have started calling them, there are “the favorites.” They can’t go to bed without them. They are dragged all over the house, often shoved in a corner or a bin somewhere, so that come bed time, we’re all frantically screaming at each other through tears of frustration. Because “OH MY GOD, I CAN’T FIND RAINBOW AND WATER.” I’ve developed a rule. “The favorites” don’t leave the house on day trips. If we’re going away for an extended time, I used to pack them. As they’ve gotten older, it has become their responsibility. But the “no day trips” rule remains hard and fast. There is nothing worse than a child losing their favorite animal.

So, we head into “Construct-a-Cat”. It wasn’t too crowded. Of course, they have My Little Ponies. She chooses her Pinkie Pie. Normally, we choose an animal (because having a little girl, we have several of the make-your-own variety) and they go through the whole song and dance. But since it was her birthday, she got to choose a sound and outfit.

She chose Star Wars. Because of course she did. This child, despite my fighting, LOVES Star Wars. Darth Vader is her favorite.

photo (15)

No, that’s not Pinkie Pie’s “lipstick” (I’m pretty sure she’s not a dude), it’s Darth Pie’s light saber.

While I don’t discourage her from liking what she wants to like, a part of me dies a little inside every time she wants to watch Star Wars.

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That Darn Cat!

by statia on April 25, 2013

I mentioned a few months ago, that we got a cat. Well, maybe like six months ago now? So, yeah, he’s been around awhile I guess. Chalk it up to the school year from hell. Maybe someday, I think to myself regularly, someday I’ll get back on this blog. Even though now I’ve already given it the kiss of death: neglect. 

I never wanted a cat.

But I think that kids need pets growing up. It teaches them to be respectful of other living things. It teaches them responsibility and a whole host of other things that I don’t need to list here. Animals are just good to have around. And if nothing, Gromit’s death has taught me to not take for granted. Even on the days when you’re rushed and they’re up your ass for wanting to be fed, or you’re tripping over them, they’re fucking awesome for your mental health.

I wanted to get another dog. For months after Gromit had passed, I scoured rescue sites. I looked at breeders. I wanted another lab! No, I didn’t want another lab! How could I? It would never compare.  I knew they wouldn’t be the same, and I recognized that, but I felt like there was this empty hole. Of course there was an empty hole and it’s still there, but it doesn’t hurt as much, or rather, it still hurts a lot, just in a different way. There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think of him).  We’re less than two months away from the end of the school year. Then summer. Then? FULL FUCKING DAYS OF SCHOOL. Had our school schedule not been so challenging and chaotic this year, I probably would have cried at the thought. But incessant talking is pretty much like Chinese water torture. If it’s always there, you can’t really fully appreciate it, rather it just fucking wastes you to the point of your eyes just glazing over and hiding. Lots and lots of hiding.  It’s really hard when one of them is always with you.  And so, there’s no way I want to be training another puppy when I will be able to take some time to myself and just breathe.

And so, we’ve settled into life with one dog and now this cat. And I haven’t really given him proper…props.  Probably because I spent the last few months in an anxious fit, thinking my cat is…oh wait for it…autistic.

Go ahead. Laugh. Really.

He’s a little bit special. He was from a small litter of just two, and I think socially, he just didn’t learn cat like things. He couldn’t jump for the longest time, and is still pretty mediocre at it, by cat standards. Especially lanky Siamese standards.  As far as being social, it took him months to not be skittish. His home base was our bedroom for a good four months before he felt comfortable coming downstairs and exploring.  Siamese cats are notorious for being super loud. “Don’t answer him, it will just encourage him.” Even by Siamese cat standards, he’s still far quieter than any Siamese cat I’ve ever met. Over the past month, he’s found his voice a bit.

photo (11)

OK, to be fair, he isn’t always a cross-eyed derp. But I’m trying to help my cause here.

But this cat has ended up being exactly the right thing for us. He is everything I wanted in the list of things that were important to us, when we told the breeder what we were looking for.  He is calm, easy going and he loves everyone. It took him awhile to pick his person. Like Goldilocks: This one is just right.  He’s finally settled on the Meester as his main person. But when it comes down to it, he makes sure that every one of us receives love from him at some point in the day.

DSC_0285 “You can’t even bread a cat right.”

 

And this. He puts up with shit like this every day.

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Now I know why old people are grumpy.

by statia on March 22, 2013

You guys, seriously, I’m becoming an old person. I’m only 37, and yet, sometimes I feel like I’m 52. Sometimes. I’ve made a conscious effort not to be that grumpy old person but I understand now why people are like this. All of that jadedness just piles on top of each other over the years and before you know it, BAM! You’re going to dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon and you complain about kids today.

Insert all of these cliches here. They’re all true. No matter how hip I want to be, age seems to get the better of me.

Let’s start with social media. I’d like to think I was on the cutting edge of blogging. When blogging was new and let’s face it, geeky. Now it’s a living. Everyone and their mother has some sort of fucking advice. Like a blog post I saw recently written to “the mom on the iphone.” And how I should be watching my children 24-7 while they twirl. And I’m made to feel guilty for being on my phone. And oh “tee hee, this is for me too, because I’m just as guilty as you are. tee hee hee.” As if throwing that in there makes you any less Judgy McJudgerson. Dude, we all judge. I try not to, but I find myself judging people because I’m a human.

Just because you have a blog, doesn’t give you a right to write an open letter chastising me about my parenting.

Edit: I guess I should say, you have the right to write whatever you want, I’m not against free speech, and you pay for that space and all. But just because you have a blog, you’re not under any sort of social media obligation. You parent you way, I’ll parent mine.

1. There is no one on this earth who feels guiltier than I do, especially in regards to my kids. I have guilt about my guilt. It fucking sucks, but it’s part of the anxiety. All of that therapy is helping me to let go and appreciate what I have done. Do I spend time with my kids? You betcha. In fact, unless it’s Tuesday, I’m with my kids pretty much all day. One is in morning preschool and the other is in afternoon kindergarten. It’s kind of a shitty deal and it’s been a tough year in regards to having peace and quiet. There are days when I don’t know how I’ll survive if I have to color another picture or listen to another diatribe about legos. Does that make me a horrible person? That I can’t appreciate another word about Mario brothers and how another level was cleared. And while we’re at it, Mom, can I tell you all of the intricate details of this particular level, while re-enacting it? Please?

2. I’m a helicopter parent. I’m only just now feeling OK with them playing outside while I glue my eyes to the window. It’s only been a year since I’ve let my now six year-old go over to friends houses by himself for play dates. BUT, kids also need to learn to play on their own. When I was six, I was already riding my bike all over the neighborhood and on busy streets. Kids NEED to make their own memories. Some of my best memories of my childhood don’t include my parents and it doesn’t make me sad. I have great childhood memories. If my mother took me to the park, she sat on a bench. Just because she didn’t have an iPhone doesn’t make it any different. We made friends at the park. We used our imaginations. I struggle with letting them do for themselves, but they have to learn. And learning to be alone is good. That doesn’t mean that when my kids say “watch me,” I ignore them.

3. Yes, I’m on my phone. I rarely get a chance to sit down during the day because I’m taking my kids places, or I’m working. But you don’t know that just by looking at me do you? Can you also tell by looking at me, that my son had developmental delays and I spent many late nights searching for alternative therapies for him to help him? Do you know how many nights I spent looking for alternative medicine to help my asthmatic daughter stop getting RSV every time she gets sick? Did you know that? Did you know how many hours and hours of therapy I spent with my son to help him catch up? No, you don’t, because you don’t live in my house. You see me sitting on a bench and assume that this is one of the many memories of my kids that I’m missing. What you don’t see are the millions of memories of my kids I make when you’re not around. The awesome dinner conversations. The times I make my son laugh to the point of falling off his bed. The legos we build. The pictures we color.

So to the holier than thou mom who is trying to make me feel guilty for yet another thing I didn’t do: well, I’ll refrain from being a jerk to you, because that’s not how I want to be. But next time, I hope you’ll think before you assume.

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Bag of tricks

by statia on January 14, 2013

I love it when people love the work I do. I feel so accomplished when I finish a piece and I’m very critical. When I first did the dresser, I had the idea to paint it green, and I loved the color all through the process, but when I stood back and looked at the finished product, I was all “um, that’s REALLY green.” Like, you think so? What did you expect? Idiot. But now I love it, and I’m not going to lie, the extra storage for all of the kids many craft things and mounds of play doh and accessories is pretty nice too.

A lot of people asked me how do I do such a great job when I paint.  Well, first, I’m a perfectionist. It can be a bit of a problem, because if it doesn’t look perfect, I will just keep fixing it until it does.  I like to pay a lot of attention to the detail. But I have a secret:

Before I started really getting into painting, I HATED painting. Because I really sucked at it. I couldn’t paint a straight line. I hated doing trim work. I hated taping and then having it still bleed  and my eyes would get all stabby and forget it. I can’t live with that sort of mess. When we moved into our house almost six years ago, I hired someone to paint it all. I had an eight week old infant, so there was no way it was happening even if I wanted it to.  But since houses are giant money suck holes, I had to learn to do stuff myself and the line just gradually blurred into redoing furniture too. And now people are asking me for advice on how to do it. So, I have a few tips. I mean, I’m by no means an expert, but I do know a lot of basics and tricks and I can definitely pass on what has worked for me.

Patience, grasshopper:  If you’re the type of person who just wants to slap a coat of paint on something and call it a day, perhaps something of this nature isn’t really for you. I’m not saying you have to be perfect, but even the easiest piece of furniture can pose its challenges. A lot of people look at me like “yeah, there’s no way I have the patience for that.” That’s cool. I actually thoroughly enjoy it. I think that helps.

Shopping time: Invest in the right tools. Not right away, but with each project, invest in something good. Paint brushes are probably your first really important tool of choice. Crappy paint brushes will make you so much more frustrated. They fall apart in your project, and leave brush strokes.  Big box stores carry an array of brushes. Purdy’s are a decent line, as are Woosters.  I have both, and I’ve been satisfied with their performance. But if you want to use what the pros use, go to a good paint store. My two favorite brands are Corona and my newly recent find, with an ironic name: Picasso. Picasso brushes are my new absolute LOVE. Always get the type of brush intended for the type of paint your using. Oil based paints use a different type of bristle than a latex paint. Any good paint store will be able to steer you in the right direction. A good brush, if cared for properly, should last you a long time. Don’t be turned off by the prices, because it’ll definitely make the paint go on like buttah! Like a big stick of BUTTAH! I have a slight addiction to brushes. I’m not lying when I say I have at least 20 brushes. Other things you’ll need: masks/respirator, safety goggles, and heavy duty gloves. Helpful tools: a hand sander (useful when you’re redoing a piece that isn’t too expensive- i.e. not an antique) and a scraper.

Start small: Go to a thrift store or search craigslist for something inexpensive. An end table, or something easy that you don’t really love. Maybe you see something you can make it into, but if it doesn’t work, then you’re not out a ton of money. It’s easier to practice on something you’re not so heavily invested in.

Paint or Stain?: Should I paint it? Should I stain it? Does the paint really matter? Look, I’m biased to the type of paint I use, and I firmly believe there’s a difference in quality. But, I’ve used all brands of paint.  We have a crappy $200 kitchen table that we bought when we first moved in. It gets beaten on a daily basis. I paint it once a year to cover up the jelly muck and all sorts of other food particles that I can’t sand off. Just to quell the twitching in my brain.  It’s not a forever piece. It’s more like a “if the kids destroy it, no big deal.” But in the interim, I use whatever black paint I have on hand, and some sort of food safe urethane or wax to keep it looking somewhat decent for the next year.  But if you have a nice piece,  always opt for refinishing the original wood.  If that’s not possible, paint it based on the piece. For the murder dresser, I used a high quality paint, because it’s in my front hall. I recommend Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint. It goes on more like an alkyd (oil based) paint, but it’s water cleanup, and low VOC. The finish is solid and will take a beating.

That should get you started. And I will be happy to answer any questions. I’m not an expert, by any means, but I feel that passion about something will take you a long way (and render you unable to shut up about a subject).  If it’s something that really interests you, or inspires you, then you can absolutely do it. I couldn’t paint a straight line a few years ago, and now, I don’t even tape off when I’m redoing a room, because I find that it takes more time than its worth.

 

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Sanding off the ugly parts

by statia on January 3, 2013

I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Filled with everything your heart desired. Whether that was sitting around doing nothing but eating cookies, or taking a vacation to warmer climes (climes are good). We basically did a lot of the former. The kids got way too many gifts, and I suppose that in some eyes that’s not really what the spirit is about. But my parents were one of those people that always made sure that they got into the spirit of consumerism during the holiday. The kids didn’t get everything they asked for, but there was an abundance of stuff under the tree. Christmas vomit, is what I like to call it.

Since it was a holiday more on the relaxing side, there was a lot of time for me to work on some of the furniture projects. I’ll admit, I’ve become addicted to rehabbing furniture, along with the decorating part of life, but mostly, the furniture projects. I’m addicted to all things midcentury modern. I’ve always loved that look. I think because for me, it’s a feeling, more than it is the look. The look is awesome. Kitschy. I believe the term from Van Wilder is apropos: Early Fuck.  But also, it soothes the cluttered mind. The clean lines, and minimalist look. I like to pair that with some simple home decor.  I’m not overly froofy.  I like the occasional froofy thrown in, but overall, simple and understated is more.

So, what I’m saying is that I’ve spent a lot of time on craigslist looking for “murder dressers.”

Murder Dresser - [mur-der]/?dres?r/ noun: An article of furniture purchased on craigslist. Usually being sold by some shady person, who keeps it in their basement, for your convenience.

I’ve scored quite a few of these pieces. I always take a buddy with me, obviously, but buying something like this always makes me nervous.  One guy actually (unintentionally, but he was still creepy) turned around to lock his deadbolt with his key after we had walked in. He realized what he was doing as I was staring at my friend with saucer sized eyes like “DUDE, we are SO getting murdered tonight!” Then he proceeded to lead us down to his basement.

I bought that dresser because I think the alternative was a “massage.”

I’ve gained a lot of experience since my first true furniture rehab, the Hepplewhite style sideboard that we use for family room storage. As a first piece, it was pretty difficult to do.  I could have easily just painted over it, but I really envisioned those fluted legs in the dark stain I used. And oh those fluted legs. They were a nightmare to strip. It took me two months from start to finish to do that project. But every layer of paint and varnish that I took off was a little victory.

It’s crazy how popular redoing a piece of furniture has become. A lot of people are turning to chalk paint, as it’s easy to take an inexpensive piece of furniture and turn it into something awesome. But it’s become all anyone ever does.  Shabby Chic. Slap a coat of chalk paint on it, scuff it up and call it a day. But the purist in me (and the perfectionist, let’s be honest) isn’t a fan of this movement. I mean, I’m not knocking it at all.  Stuff is staying out of landfills and getting a new life. And these Annie Sloan people are nuts over this paint. And my mantra is, if you’re that passionate, then it’s worth it.  But I love scraping and sanding and seeing all of the history come off and unearthing what’s underneath. I love starting from bare wood. I get the option of either painting or staining. Sure it’s a lot of work, but I love putting my sweat and elbow grease into a project. Scraping off the ugly parts is like digging for buried treasure. Once I get to the treasure, I can make the decision on what to do with it.  Most of the time, I’d rather stain, but obviously sometimes underneath might not be what I want it to be. And this is a nice lesson in being more flexible. Something that I need to work on in other areas of my life.

Right before Christmas, I was bringing home dresser after dresser (insert chronic stink eye from the Meester here). I scored this one, which I planned on keeping. A midcentury American of Martinsville dresser. I’m deducing, based on my research that this was from their more inexpensive hotel line, because I have other pieces, and they’re more minimalist than this, with a better veneer. Still a decent piece – better than most furniture from today:

Tasty tasty murder

Obviously it was painted the color ugly. Not only that, but the paint job was half assed. Not that it mattered. I just loved the lines. Simple. This piece was screaming bright color. I wanted to add a touch of color to my entry way.  I’ve said before, my plans are a bit fluid. I have a general idea, but it gets adapted as I go along, and I start to see the progress. The finished product was a little more green and bright for my liking. But it’s growing on me:

At first I wasn’t sure about it. But I have to admit, it’s growing on me.

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Not exactly a fruitcake.

by statia on December 21, 2012

I think over the past six years, I’ve wanted to figure out some sort of family tradition that we could do with our kids so that they would remember the holidays. And it was always “when they’re older.” And now I’m the parent of children. Not babies, but full fledged CHILDREN people. I like to go big when it comes to stuff like this. I’m so fiercely nostalgic. I reminisce of days of old. When I was a kid, I once got to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade out of an office building window. One of the best memories is being able to see those gigantic balloons at eye level. And ever since then, the parade was a staple in my house.

As life has gotten busier, I end up skipping out on a lot of things in lieu of time. Which is the worst thing to do. And since I gave myself the year off on Christmas cards this year (Thanks Donna for putting that out there), I figured I had to at least start some sort of tradition. But what? I’d love to take them to see the Nutcracker (or maybe take LG as a treat for something that’s just the two of us). Radio City Music Hall?

This year they’re still a little bit too young for that. Instead I focused more on thinking of others. A first Christmas lesson that will be valuable in all other areas of life. This year I made each of them not only pick out a gift for each other, but also for another child. Something that they could donate to a child in need. Given my love of making memories and traditions, I love the idea of Santa, but it’s hard to explain why Santa is bringing presents for them, but not others. It’s a slippery slope. Thankfully they haven’t started questioning that yet, and I hope that the excitement on their faces come Christmas eve (so that they can fully appreciate each other’s gifts) will hit the point home.

At least for the five minutes before they start fighting.

I’d love to hear your traditions.

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