$25 table and chairs was rough, with plaster on it, etc.

$25 table and chairs was rough, with plaster on it, etc.

One missing a slat but we don't care.

One missing a slat but we don’t care.


Scored plank lines into it with a screwdriver.

See how perfect in his little paneled kitchen.

See how perfect in his little paneled kitchen.

Had son and his friend beat on it with chains and yard tools to distress before staining.

Had son and his friend beat on it with chains and yard tools to distress before staining.

I love to paint.  I love to find things on FB marketplaces or Goodwill and repurpose them.  Here’s a table and chairs that I found and paid $25 for…planning to paint and resell.

Well, Kid #3 saw it and decided he “needed” it in his college apartment, so he helped me paint and then we distressed the top.  First, I sanded and sanded it.  Then I set his friend and him loose with chains and various garden tools to beat the heck out of it (technical term = distress…I’d be distressed if someone beat the heck out of me with chains, too!).

Then I decided it needed to look more like planks, so I scored it with a screwdriver and stained it a bit.

Final….son LOVES it! and it fits great with whole vintage-vibe, paneled-like-1962 apartment.  Worth way more than $25.


Murphy’s Law says something about ‘whatever can go wrong,will’ and in our case, it all happens together.  I’m quite sure we’re off the “stress level” charts, but there’s something to be said about the numbness that comes with everything happening at once.
1. First, we lost Neal’s father on Feb.19.  He’d been in a care facility for a year and wasn’t “thriving”…had dementia, was losing appetite, and apparently was also suffering from some digestion blockage that eventually did him in.  When you’re 88 years old I guess it doesn’t have to be something hugely catastrophic…we are very sad to be without him.

7/22/26 (we loved him in the dash) 2/19/15

7/22/26 (we loved him in the dash) 2/19/15

2. Immediately after that, we moved out of our home that we’d built 11 years ago, into a much smaller rental  home.  This will ease the financial pressure caused by 10 years of 10 “budget cut” job losses.  The house and the owner are a blessing;  we feel very comfortable here and may end up owning it ourselves, once we figure out how to fit all our “stuff” inside! Among other amenities, we finally have a fenced yard for the dogs!

3.  A recruiter found me and I ended up with a new job.  I am Account Manager for Classic Stone, LLC, specializing in Cambria natural quartz.  I work directly with designers, builders and kitchen and bath dealers to assist them with countertops, fireplace surrounds, and other stone applications. It is very high-end and I’m loving being part of the design process.

Cambria, USA. Family owned, American made.

Cambria, USA. Family owned, American made.

4. After publishing the Lawrence community magazine for more than a year, we opted to give it back to Towne Post Media Group and Tom Britt.  I am very sad about it, after working so hard to build it and inject ourselves into the growth and development of the city of Lawrence.  Unfortunately Tom ended the magazine, as he could not find anyone else to take it on.
5. I went to Le Seuer, Minnesota for Cambria training.  It snowed 8.5″ as I arrived and I ended up having to scoop all that snow off my rental car with the plastic tray from my hotel room as for some reason rental car companies in Minnesota don’t give you a snow brush, nor does the hotel!  The trip was great, though, as I got to tour the company dairy farm, fabrication facilities,  and learn so much about the product.

6. One day after returning from Minnesota I put on my “Tour Director” hat and boarded a bus with 127 high schoolers and chaperones and drove to Orlando for a 4-day stay in Disney World.  The band marched in Epcot and the choir sang and they attended workshops where they got to play Disney music, then watch parts of the movie with their own music accompanying it.  Very wonderful experience for these kids;  some of them may never take such a trip again and for many it will be the highlight of their lives.  I’m honored to be part of it.  I guess that’s what gets me through the 20+ overnight drive on the bus there and back 🙂  And, the weather was absolutely perfect every day we were there.

25+ years ago my mom handed me a muslin bag full of vintage quilt squares, saying that I was more likely to do something with them than she was.  I  had good intentions;  over the years I researched “Grandma’s Fan” quilts, which was the pattern, and I ordered books on quilting.  But still the bag sat.

Finally in the fall of 2013 I signed up for a beginners quilting class and made my first quilt.  Amazingly, it was very easy and was pretty much completed in the 6 class sessions (okay, plus a little homework).  (Read it here)

So I clearly caught the quilting bug and was off and running.  For my next project, I decided to open that muslin bag and surprise my mom for her April birthday. There were plenty of squares for a queen-sized quilt and they’d been hand-stitched by my great-grandmother Irene back in the 1930s or 1940s out of feed sack cotton; she owned a bakery so acquired quite a few flour sacks!

Once I laid it out, I opted to highlight the white squares with a darker, navy border, which had a somewhat modern look that I knew my mom would like.

Did I mention it was QUEEN sized?!  I had no idea what I was getting into….I learned a lot about quilting on this beast….and quilted it on my own “domestic” Brother sewing machine.  Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly a labor of love for my mom.  Every stitch I thought about how surprised she’d be and how much I loved giving it to her.  And trust me….there were a LOT of stitches…like 5 spools of thread worth!

I always forget to take ‘before’ pics….I need to get better at that!  Here are some of the projects I’ve done recently, using furniture from thrift stores, etc. and re-loving them then selling them or giving them to family members.

I’m always open to take on your next project! 


You know by now I enjoy painting and finding the beauty in icky old pieces of furniture.  I hunt through Goodwill stores and other thrift stores, hunting for the $10 prize that just needs some attention to be brought back to its original beauty…or a better version!

Here’s my latest…sorry I always forget to take “before” pics, but trust me when I say this was one tired piece of furniture, with wet stains, chunks of wood missing, marker marks, etc.  and a $13 price tag.  I chalk-painted and waxed bottom and sanded/stained the top.

Look at her now!

It works on both sides.  That is, I expect good customer service in any establishment where I am letting go of my hard-earned dollars.  Don’t ignore me, try to find answers to my questions, don’t make me wait too long, etc.

But customers should also try to be a little nicer.  Why is it that when a worker dons a hat or apron for their job that people immediately treat them like second-class citizens?  Daughter Alison has worked retail for more than 10 years and has many stories of the rudeness of customers.  People come in with obviously used merchandise and try to get full refunds or new products in exchange, shoplift in shocking quantities and paw through merchandise that was carefully folded, etc.

Now that I’m working part-time at a coffee shop that specializes in custom drinks, it is amazing how people take that as an opportunity to be overly demanding. Again, the fact that I wear a hat and apron seems to bring me down a few levels beneath them in their eyes; maybe they’d be surprised to know of my “other” jobs as magazine publisher/writer/photographer, travel director and on-air talent and my college cum laude degree, etc.? A woman demanded a new drink today because the bubbles in her foam were too big….the next person made the drink the same way, but showed her as they spooned it into the cup so she felt it was better. *aargh. Another ordered 20 pumps of chocolate and 20 spoonfuls of chips in his drink and the way the system works, he wasn’t even charged extra…wow, working the system!

But don’t get me wrong! I enjoy people…talking to people, serving people, trying to bring that “rainbow to someone’s day”….but I often wish people were more aware of how they are affecting people around them. Is it harder to be nice?

Think about it next time you’re in a retail or food establishment, okay? And check this out… http://www.fatbraintoys.com/play/2013/5/15/five_lessons_in_customer_service_i_learned_from_my.cfm?gclid=CPWWleye8r4CFa1cMgodaVkAuw


Do you know someone who has never used their wedding china, saved the crystal for “a special occasion”, kept the nicer silverware in the drawer?  Well, I think such things should be brought out occasionally and enjoyed, savored and generally appreciated.

So, when my friend Karen told me about some fabric that she’d had laying around for some 50 years, I was ready for the challenge.  Her mom was gifted a fine cotton/linen flat sheet from Europe 50+ years ago, but never used it, likely because she didn’t have the full set. So it sat.  And sat. And never got used, though the material has an absolutely gorgeous feel to it with a high thread count and natural fibers.

I first cut out 2 pillow cases, utilizing the finely crocheted trim.  Then with the remainder I was able to cut out a DOZEN square napkins, just slightly larger than the 16″ standard, so there would be plenty of room for decorative folds. Since there was no trim on the napkins and I don’t have a fussy machine that does monograms, I used a decorative stitch along the edges, just for a subtle elegance.

So easy…and the sheet will be so much more appreciated now; the gift that has kept on giving.  I folded 8 of the napkins into lotus blossoms for a nice presentation…just a matter of folding the corners into center, flip it over and fold corners in again, then pull up the flap.  Find tutorials online…