Friday, March 30, 2012

Little Black Dog Love

I've always loved dogs. All types of dogs. Don't think I've ever met a dog I didn't like. Somewhere in my collection of treasures I have a piece of paper that we found in my grandma's things that I had written when I was a child. It states in no uncertain terms that I am a "professional dog lover". Not just any old dog lover mind you but a Professional dog lover. Still makes me laugh when I read that.

A few years back our little dog Taz passed away. I had decided that I didn't want another dog. I just get so heartbroken when they die and I couldn't take losing another one. Ken thought different. He talked me into just going to look at a schnauzer puppy he saw in the paper. It was a total set up. We walked in the door, they handed me the pup and there was no way I was going to walk out the door without him. We named him Oso because our name is Smart and I thought it was funny. And besides that, he's Oso Cute....(I know, totally corny..)

He's a funny little black dog with quite an attitude. But he can be a sweet thing too. There hasn't been a night that I've come home from work that he hasn't come running out to greet me like it's been soooooo long since he's seen me and he's sooooooo happy I'm home. Nothing like the love of a little black dog to make the worries of the world go away.

Feeling happy that today is Friday and I've got a weekend of being creative ahead of me. So looking forward to that!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Attitude Adjustment

It's Tuesday, and for that very reason, I'm amazed at my attitude. I mean, I expect this attitude from me on a Monday after two days at home being creative, wearing sweats, slippers and a ponytail, but on a Tuesday? When I already got Monday out of the way? What's up with that?!

Yet here I am. It's 7:00 in the morning, I'm still in my nightgown with my favorite blanket wrapped around me, my little black dog curled up snoring next to me, a hot cup of coffee and my laptop. And a battle raging in my mind....

"Wren! Get going NOW!
You need to get in the shower, get dressed, and get on the road!" 

And then my mind comes back with all the reasons that today would be a great day to stay home. It is raining after all (like that's a good excuse, since it is March and this is Western Oregon) and there are so many things that really need to be done. You know, like looking at that tutorial by Nan at You Could Make That on felted rose pillows. Or maybe  just sitting here wrapped in a blanket with my little dog Oso and working on my blog. Important things. And I still need to finish pouring over those seed catalogs and planning my garden.  And, hey, here it is March already and I haven't even worked on my Spring mantlescape! See? So many really good reasons why today, Tuesday, would be a wonderful day to stay home....

But then the voice of reason steps in and explains that the supplies for those felted roses and the seeds from those catalogs cost money and staying at home petting the dog doesn't pay all that well ( it would in a perfect world) and that if I really want that $12 thrift store silver urn that is going to look great in my house filled with white flowers, I need shape up and get going.

"NOW Wren!"

So, I'm off to work like the responsible adult my mother raised me to be (thanks mom!) soothing the child in my head that's still stomping her foot and scowling at the injustice of it all with a promise of a run through our favorite junk stores when we get our paycheck. You know, the thing you get when you actually show up at work....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kitchen Challenge IV, Tile & Recap

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It took a few weekends, and I'm still trying to wipe construction dust off everything in the house, but our kitchen is pretty much done. Last weekend was the final push and the biggest part of the project; new granite counter top and white subway tile back splash. I was really excited for this step. For years now I've read books and watched video on how to tile. I had convinced myself that I could do it given the opportunity. Somehow though, I don't think Ken was as pumped as I was :0)

So, first the 'before'. About 10 years ago we put in one of those pre-fab counter tops in a lovely shade of hunter green as a temporary fix. (If I've learned anything over the last several years of my marriage to Mr. Smart it's this: my temporary and his temporary are two completely different things.)

One thing about living in this old house is that nothing is level, so every project involves making adjustments for that...

Of course, since there were tiles to be cut ouside, it rained all day. Poor Ken...


Then it was time for new under layment, a coat of quickset, and our 12x12 granite tiles.


Here is the granite counter top all set. On to the white subway tile backsplash and nice white grout. Good-bye grossness, hello clean and pretty!


I really do like to work side by side with Ken on projects like this, but I have to admit that at one point last weekend I started to think I would never get the mess cleaned up. But little by little it came together. And so, at long last, the 'afters'...

Everywhere you look in my kitchen you'll see touches of my grandmother, from the chickens in the window and on the shelves.... a small picture of her and one of her best-friends when she was a teen. I think she would have liked the kitchen and all the colors.

And a few other views...

The chalkboard was painted right on the wall and framed with some reclaimed trim. It's one of my favorite places to sketch out plans (the garden and side yard plan are on it right now) and a favorite place for the grandkids as well. The egg shadowbox was a gift from my husband a few years back and another of my very favorite things.

I still need to find the perfect fabric to sew a window accent, but for the most part we're done. And we are both really happy with the way it all came together. The total for this part of the renovation? $149.80
  • 1) sheet particle board under layment $10
  • 2) sheets hardybacker @ $12 ea $24
  • Thin Set tile adhesive $8
  • 10) 12x12 black granite tiles @ $5 ea $50
  • 60) white subway tiles @ .33 ea  $19.80
  • Grout $15
  • Tile sealer $10
  • 1x2 trim for the front of the counter $4
  • White caulk to finish it all off $6
  • New plugins and covers $3
So, including parts One, Two and Three, our final Grand total for the kitchen remodel  was $232.80. Our original quote was around $2500, so that is a whopping savings of $2267.20. Go US! And even better yet? Our marriage survived the project. Now on to the next challenge; the upstairs studio. Stay posted!

My Oldest Child

I woke up this morning thinking of another morning 31 years ago, when I was blessed with a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Timothee James Authier was our first child, born to parents that weren't much more than children themselves. Tim's father Troy and I were both 18 years old, me having turned that only a few weeks before. It's odd to think that it's been 31 years since that day. I remember it all so clearly. His father cried when he was born and I was in awe of this tiny, perfect little person. And scared to death that I was going to break him if I picked him up!

Over then next few years life changed and Troy and I went out separate ways, but I'll always hold a large amount of gratitude in my heart for my ex-husband. Without him, my life wouldn't have been blessed with this bright eyed, full of mischief and kindhearted little boy.


I love the man that my little boy has become. Life has thrown him some curves and there were times that I was scared to death to think he wouldn't make it, but he's come through the darkness into a wonderful life in Alaska with a wife that knows how to handle him, a beautiful daughter and a new baby on the way.

Happy birthday Timothee James. I hope you realize how truly blessed your life is and how much your family loves and misses you. You know I don't play favorites, but you'll always hold a special place in my heart because you were my first sweet baby. I love you and I'm so very, very proud of you.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Queen of Procrastination

Turns out that I am the queen when it comes to procrastination. Never fails. All week I've been thinking of everything that I needed to get done on my day off. I was determined to get in, stay on task and make some progress on the upstairs studio project. But, as luck would have it, I found a wooden "S" that demanded my immediate attention. Well, it really didn't, but just the thought of doing something fun as opposed to doing something that was going to be dirty and work related and I was off looking through the craft closet for supplies.

After digging in my stash, I found the perfect colors; a mustard gold and a nice turquoise. And, of course, my favorite dark walnut stain to muddy things up and age them a bit.

First step, base coat the white wood "S" with a nice coat of Espresso spray paint...

After a light sanding, I painted the entire thing with the mustard color. When that coat was nice and dry, I took an old paraffin candle and rubbed it in areas where I wanted it to look like wear. The wax causes kind of a resist when you paint over the top of it and makes it easier to sand and distress.

Then it was a nice coat of the turquoise. Love that color...


And then it was time to sand again. In some areas I took it down to the brown base coat. When I finally got it sanded and looking the way I wanted, I used a rag and wiped the entire thing down with my stain. The final step was to give it a good coat of  satin finish spray sealer.

I love the way the different colors peak out. Ken came in just as I finished. I was so excited to show him how crafty I was. Being the ever helpful guy that he is (and with an impish twinkle in his eye) he offered to paint it for me and fix all the scratches. Such a funny boy!

I really like the way it looks against the black spice cupboard in our kitchen. I didn't get upstairs and get anything done on the studio, and there are still a few loads of laundry waiting to be done, but dang if I don't have a great little accent piece to show for my procrastination!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kitchen Challenge Part III, The Kitchen Sink

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I love old houses. Give me a choice between new construction or a home with some age on it and I would take the old one every time. Seems that they just have a little something that new homes don't. I love the history behind them and the odd things that you find that make you wonder "what in the world ???"

Our home was built in 1928 and is loaded with character. When we first bought it there was funky wallpaper everywhere, much of it with a goose theme. I couldn't strip that fast enough! In the last 10 years our home has gone through several transformations, but we've tried to keep the character of the home intact while adding our own touches here and there.

The kitchen in our home is very small and the sink is one of those one piece units that were so popular in the 50's. It's a metal base with an enamel single sink that has built-in drainboards. It was part of a line called Youngstown Kitchens by Mullins. Very cutting edge in the day. I was sure that I wanted to tear out everything in the kitchen and replace that unit with one of those beautiful white farmhouse sinks with a nice base and a dishwasher. But, other projects came first and the kitchen got put on the back burner. And here it is 10 years later and I've come to love that odd piece.

We did some figuring at one time and it was going to be around $2500 to give me what I thought was my dream kitchen. But my way of thinking has changed in the last few months. I've vowed to cut back and make do and try to live a simpler life. Ken and I went back through the kitchen and came up with a plan to have something beautiful at a fraction of the cost.

This is what we started with ( I REALLY need to find my good camera)...

A few years ago we had stripped the paint off and sealed the raw metal with a clear coat. I liked the way it looked but eventually the sealer failed and we ended up with a rust spotted mess. Not pretty at all.

So, Ken took a sander to it......


And after a few coats of Hammerite Black spray paint she's as good as new. Better than new if you ask me. The picture just doesn't do it justice.  She's old and funky and imperfectly perfect. Just like me.


The final touch was to replace this old tacky faucet that was missing its spray nozzle,

...with this beautiful brushed nickle one.


Can't believe how excited I am over a new faucet! I really am happy with the way it all turned out and O.K. with the fact that we aren't going to put in a dishwasher. There is something calming about putting your hands into a sink of warm water and doing a few dishes. Makes you slow down for a bit and take a breather. And I love to look out my kitchen window at the patio garden when I do. A win/win!

The grand total for Part III of our kitchen renovation? $74
  • Sandpaper $2
  • 2 cans of Hammerite Black Spray Paint @ $6 ea
  • 1 new faucet $60
So, including parts One and Two of our Kitchen Challenge, our grand total for this project so far is $86. Quite a long way from our original quote of $2500!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Pot of Gold

Happy St. Patrick's Day! This day never comes without me thinking of my youngest son Jake. He was always the funniest little boy and one year around St. Patties day he decided that Leprechauns were real. (Of course, that's not to say that they aren't...)He spent several days before the 17th drafting a letter to Mr. Leprechaun and insisted that we leave him treats in the hope that the little guy might be so pleased that he would leave him his pot of gold. For several years after that, there was a letter and a treat left out on St. Patrick's day, though never a treat or letter worthy of a pot of gold.

That funny little boy is now a handsome, witty man of almost 27. I like to think that he never stopped writing to "Mr. Leprechaun" and hoping that one day he would be kind enough to leave Jake his pot of gold. I got my pot of gold several years ago when I was blessed with a little boy with such a great imagination. Jonovan Jake, happy St. Patrick's Day. I love you very much.

***MOTHERS DISCLAIMER: To my two other children Timothee and JoLee; this post in NO WAY indicates that Jake is my favorite. I love you all EQUALLY. And eventually there will be a post here about you as well. Just remember that it could be a post about anything you did as a child so you might want to be careful about how you treat your mommie. :o)

Keeping with the green theme of the day, I've decided to share a few pics of my favorite greens around our home....


Wishing you all the luck of the Irish today and and over abundance of blessings!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

There's just something about white.

We woke up one morning this week to some excitement. During the night our spring landscape had turned into a winter wonderland. The entire area was covered in thick wet snow and it was so beautiful. And so damaging. We just don't get much snow in this area so when we do, it throws everything off a bit. We live in a rural area surrounded by trees so after our morning coffee, Ken headed out to see if we could get up the road. Nope. The heavy snow knocked down branches and and blocked the drive. Thanks to a good husband and a chainsaw we were able to get up the drive and head to work.

The hour drive to work was beautiful. I forget how much I love the snow and the crisp white of it. And how it sets off all the other colors that I love. So, this morning, a photo blog on the whites around Rosehaven....

As much as I love color and have tons of it around our home, there is just something about that pop of white that feels so refreshing. 

Wishing you a Wednesday filled with joy,

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