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Monthly Archives: October 2011

I Got a Rock

The Great Pumpkin* wishes you and yours a very Happy Halloween!

*For newer readers, yes, that is me.  No, I was not drunk.  Yes, I demanded to be The Great Pumpkin for Halloween when I was six.  No, my parents did not seek therapy for my god complex.

I don’t seem to have many Halloween pictures from my childhood.

But perhaps there is a reason for that.

I seem to have had difficulty as a child sticking with mainstream Halloween choices.  My failure to convince people that I was the Great Pumpkin was followed shortly thereafter by declairing myself Patrick Henry for the Bicentennial Halloween edition.

The girls behind me clearly got the Halloween memo and were, sensibly dressed as hobos and, I don’t know… Holly Hobby?

But me?  Nope, there I am, Patrick Henry, complete with scroll and a Give me Liberty of Give Me Death vibe.

I don’t recall that I got a lot of candy that year.

However, I did stick with my Charlie Brown theme as time went by – although I downgraded myself from demi-god to leading man as evidenced by this shot of my homemade 4th of July parade float (why were my shorts so tight?  I am not remotely a fashion conscious person but, seriously, every time I see a picture of my childhood self the first thing that always springs to mind is “what the hell am I wearing?”).

I hope everyone elses costumes are a big hit and that you all have a safe and candy-filled night! (and my sincere sympathies to kids who live in the snowy northeast!)


Let’s Hear it for the Boy?

Early this week, in order to stay on track for both Unique LA and the Rose Bowl,  I carefully laid out what I thought was a reasonable ToDo list.

The list broke things down into small, manageable steps.

My thinking was that I would get several things done each day while still having time for  a social life and getting outside to enjoy the fall weather.

….I haven’t left the house since Monday.

I am in serious need of a montage.  You know, where we see our hero (or heroine) accomplishing a buttload of activities while some peppy 80s song plays in the background.

So, to this end, I would greatly appreciate it if you all would start humming “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” from the original Footloose

I will then get a lot done quickly* and, eventually collapse on the sofa with a satisfied smile while managing to look convincingly tired but extremely attractive (I’d say “without a hair out of place” but, given my condition my hair couldn’t be out of place in a hurricane).

A one, a two, a onetwothreefour…hit it!

*I’m imagining getting coasters finished, blocks made, furniture painted and HOME signs created but alternatively, and keeping with the montage theme, I could turn a vacant lot into a playground for underprivileged kids or go on several dates and, eventually, fall in love.  Montages are unpredictable that way but, honestly, I’d be happy just knowing I got a lot of something done quickly.

Tragic Tuesday (see, I told you!)

As you know I live in Los Angeles.  I rely on the sunny warm weather to be able to work outside year round and to speed up the drying time on my projects.

But yesterday morning disaster struck!  I woke to discover that the sky was some odd, non-blue color and WATER WAS FALLING FROM IT!

I took a picture so you all could all share in the horror.

None of us knew what to do.  And clearly, until this apocalypse subsided, I was not going to be able to work in the garage sanding and sawing as I’d planned.

So it was coaster and block construction time in order to prep for both Rose Bowl and Unique LA.

Today the sun came back again (and we could, at last, put the trauma of yesterday behind us and go on with our lives) and I was able to snap a few pics of my newest acquisition.

I’d vowed to lay off on getting new furniture but this one was free!  And I can never say no to free!

It has those great, elegant legs and I’m digging the scalloped edge detail on the top

Now the question is, what to do with it?  Usually my furniture starts off in really bad shape but this one, not so much.  It’s got some minor nicks and tiny discolorations but, overall it’s fine.  It seems kinda silly to paint it.  I’m wondering if I should just put some attractive paper under the glass to brighten it up and call it good.  What do you think?

Fresh Start Monday

It’s Fresh Start Monday!

Well, I’ve dubbed it that after having a kind of haphazard weekend wherein I sorta got things done, kinda got organized, and almost ate well (I say that because I  managed to eat an entire pie….in one sitting…..I have a pie problem…..).

So, welcome to Fresh Start Monday!

The house is clean and my workspace is organized.  Well, lets be honest – organized-ish – meaning it looks organized but several things just got moved to another room and stuffed in a closet… which will probably lead to a blog post titled “Tragic Tuesday!” wherein  I recount my trip to the emergency room after having heavy things fall on my head when I opened a certain closet door.

Today is all about production line.  Make a 50 coasters.  Cut out three  HOME signs. Paint the ceiling.  Mail out orders.  Cut wood for chalkboard bunting.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Since photos of my assembly line arent particularly arresting I thought I’d share a before and after I did on a little dresser I happened across a while ago.

Here is the (almost) before.  I seem to have a hard time remembering to take pictures as I go along.  So I guess this would be mid-before- meaning I had taken the drawers out, sanded and primed it grey (it was handy).

Honestly, after priming it I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

I finally settled on a two-tone color scheme and added a little detail to the front and some white knobs.

OK back to the assembly line!

Hope everyone else has or had a great Monday!

Unique LA!

Well Yay!!!!!!!!

And ACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ve been kinda nervous all day waiting to find out if I did or did not get into the Unique LA Holiday Show.  You may recall I did their summer show which was a lot of fun and a big succes.

But I’m happy to report that I made the cut!

I think what probably put me over the top was that I paired up with a new Etsy friend, Trisha who runs a shop called Matchbook Memories.

Trisha takes what are called “feature” matchbooks which is this absolutely cool “lost” art where the matches all have images on them so they look like this:

Trisha takes these and, so that you can see the entire book makes these fun pieces of art

and since matchbook art is a huge part of what I do (you can see examples over there on the far right column) our styles blend nicely.

I knew the competition to get a slot was tough – they had 600+ applicants for 300 spots – so I was honestly anxious.

So now a brief celebration but then I’ve really got to get cracking because, along with creating enough stock for the two day Unique show (and designing a booth), I just got a wholesale order for 300 coasters and another for upwards of 120 custom (I have to design them) corporate coasters.

So, it’s off to the workshop for me!

If I don’t post again soon please send someone to check under the largest pile of sawdust in the garage.

Chalkboard Place Cards – whaddya think?

Thanks very much for all the great words about my dad’s Lazy Susans!  He reads the blog and was so happy!  He also reports there are three or four more in the shop in various stages of preparation.  I’ll keep you posted on the next installment of As the Lazy Susan Turns.

But here and now my latest tutorial is up on the Mod Podge Rocks blog.

With Thanksgiving coming I was trying to think of fun, different ways to make place cards and after brainstorming with a friend we came up with these vintagy chalkboard versions.   They are very easy to make and the total cost (with extra left over) was about $8.

Once I got going on them my brain started racing with all the possible variations.  You could make the bases look like records and use scans of vintage album covers on the tag.  Or you could use baby pictures of the guests or vintage Christmas images with the bases made of vintage wrapping paper etc etc – kinda endless themey possibilities.

I’m contemplating making a version to sell in my Etsy shop what do you guys think?

The only downside I can see is that the tags are only 3” across with 1.5” taken up by the image which means you could only invite friends with names like Sue or Bob – your buddy Agamemnon will not be attending this soiree.

If you’re keen on the idea check out the full tutorial over at Mod Podge Rocks.

Dad’s Not So Lazy Susan

I have come to a realization of late.

I am not a process person.

I don’t like rehearsals I like performing.  I don’t like cooking I like eating.  I don’t like sanding and priming I like presenting the finished product.

So, although I know “life is about the journey” I seem to be all about the hotel and the pool.

My father is a process person.  Meticulous.  Careful.  Everything he does is well planned and beautifully executed.

He is awesome but our conflicting styles led to some, um, conflicts when I was younger.

My advice to any 8 year old boys reading this is to NEVER make a model of your favorite spaceship with this man.

It will come out great  but you will lose your mind as he carefully organizes all the parts, sands any minor imperfections, contemplates the paint job and works out how to reinforce the weak spots.

He wanted to create something beautiful.  I just wanted to play with it and, lets be honest, eventually blow it up*.

Not a lot has changed.

I’m running around like a loon trying to finish twelve projects at once, never truly satisfied with any of them, making mistakes because I won’t slow down and my dad is creating this:

My folks moved to a retirement community and, upon arrival, my industrious father immediately gathered like minded citizens and started a woodworking shop/club.  Along with doing their own projects they repair furniture for the residents and other shop-related activities.

Dad recently decided that the lazy susans that sat in the center of each table in the dining room were both inefficient and too small and set about to correct the situation.

You can see the result.  That’s separate segments of ¼” birch stained and then applied almost seamlessly to a base and framed out with molding.

Dad apparently also felt that Central Ohio needed a little continental flair and the wording (which you can’t see clearly) is in German as follows:

The salt and pepper holder is “Das Salz und Pfeffen”, sweeteners is “Die SuBungsmittel”, and the comment sheets “Achtung! Kommentar Bogen Hier”.

His next susan (they will all be different) speaks French and looks like this:

Isnt’ that just beautiful!  I’m blown away.

My dad had a great story about trying to glue down the veneers on this one and every time he’d start a new section the previous section would curl up and he kept running back and forth like a Marx Brother trying to get them all stuck down.

Now, all this is well and good.  Yea for dad and his industrious, talented self!

However, my father makes me angry.

First off, he’s approaching 90  and he clearly has more energy and creativity in his little finger than I have in my whole body.

Second, there’s that patience thing that I never mastered.

Third, he had cataract surgery recently and, despite having worn glasses since he was an embryo he now has 20/20 vision.

And finally, he still has a full head of hair!  And he’s not even using it! – it just sitting up there in a crew cut….mocking me.

* I did not blow up the model and am very, very grateful that he took the time to do it right and that I have such a great memento of my childhood.

Everything did not come up Rose Bowl

It happened again!

The Rose Bowl suddenly snuck up on me and I was (wait for it!) UNPREPARED!

So I ran around like a crazy person finishing up tons of projects while – never one to focus on just one aspect of my life at a time – simultaneously closing the run of the play I was in.

Planning?  I don’ t need no stinking planning!

I did some more work with my Blender Pen on some End Table Nirvana tables (man that was a good day!).  And thanks to the generosity of The Graphics Fairy I was pleased with the outcome.

Here are the “before” shots as a reminder:

Of course I didn’t really put the final touch on them until Saturday  so I was in a hurry to take photos.

I decided to make use of the natural outside light rather than trying to stage something indoors but I think all I managed to do was make it look like they had just escaped and were making a run for it.

Keeping with my Frenchy theme I had some solid oak chairs that I had purchased for a song a very long time ago.  In my homage to Miss Mustard Seed I had splurged on some French Grain Sack material and gave a shot at that vintagy, frenchy, shabby, look (apparently the chairs also made a break for it).

Throw in some magnetic chalk boards

Some vintage Halloween goodness,

And I was all set.

The Booth looked festive!

The people showed up!

There was a lot of looking and pointing and exclaiming!


Nobody bought anything!

I went from September being my best month ever to October being my worst month ever.  Ugh.

I understand markets are unpredictable (hello my 401K) but sheesh!

Ah well.  Onward!

At least Etsy sales have been robust  and now, when I suddenly realize in early November that, “oh my god the Rose Bowl is next week!”  I won’t have to do much!

(that would be the lemonade-I-made-from-lemons-half- filling-my-glass perspective)

Shall we link?

Liebster Blog Award

So much to write about!

First, thanks for all the well wishes and good thoughts and comments about Free Agents!

I’m going to assume that, the fact that the show was cancelled immediately following my appearance is mere coincidence.  Ah well….so much for NBC giving their new shows a chance to develop.

Second.  I have to say thanks to the very, very cool Whitney and Dustin that run The Rooster and the Hen   for bestowing on me the Liebster Blog Award.

Whitney and Dustin have been blogging for, oh, about 20 minutes, and already have 70 followers,  a spiffy site, great tutorials and now they are giving out awards!  This is clearly a couple on the go and my new goal is to keep up!

So, The Liebster Award apparently started in Germany is meant to highlight newer blogs with less that 200 followers.  It’s an award you get but also one that you give because in a “pay it forward” kinda mode you then suggest blogs that you follow that are just getting going.

I love the concept and the spirit behind it and I’m more than happy to point out a few sites that I’ve been getting into of late and think are top notch.

1 Deborah over at Upcycling My Life hails from Nova Scotia and comes up with the most amazing furniture makeovers along with detailed pics, tips and hints.

2 Please Note  is run by a Lucille-Ball- loving fellow Angeleno and comes replete with ideas, recipes and vintage goodness galore (there is also an Etsy shop if you’ve just “gotta have it!”)

3 Rosemary and her blog Villabarnes is my latest find – she already has tons of followers so I guess I’m cheating but she is the source of my Blender Pen inspiration and she has an endless stream of good ideas, clear pictures and tutorials to inspire.

So, as I understand it, these are the “rules” for this award.

The goal is to bring attention to small blogs so the blogger who gets the award posts the logo on their blog and links back to the awarder.  They are then free to list 3-5 other bloggers they think are cool and worth a look.

I’m happy to participate and appreciative of the gesture but I want to be totally clear that the folks above should feel NO OBLGIATION to participate – I can totally understand if it’s not your thing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with reports from the Rose Bowl Market (it was Sunday.  It was, oh let’s be honest, not great).  And later in the week I will reveal my dad’s latest project!

Festive Reversible Bunting

First off thank you all very much for the kind words and good wishes about Free Agents!

I gather that I did make it past the final edit which is a relief.

I haven’t actually watched yet – I’m crazy busy and it is still a deeply weird experience to watch myself on TV.

And I don’t mean that totally from a vanity point of view because I actually look better on TV than I do in real life (never underestimate the power of good makeup artists, lighting, filters and, of course, CGI special effects.*)

But back to all things handmade.

My latest tutorial is up over at Mod Podge Rocks.

Those bunting banners that everyone seems to be making always look so cool so I thought I’d give one a try.  But I also wanted to incorporate a way to make it versatile so I came up with chalkboard bunting that has a pattern on one side and chalkboard on the other so you could change it out depending on your mood or the message you wanted to send.  You can check it out, along with the billions of other projects over on Amy’s site.


However, I really need to avoid doing projects that require a mantle as the giant TV that lurks just above mine kinda kills that homey/cottagy mood.  I also need to avoid projects that force me to expose my horrible handwriting… and learn…..

*That statement about the power of makeup reminded me of a favorite funny/awful moment I had several years ago.

 I was in a play by George Bernard Shaw called Misalliance.  We performed in a really nice theatre that sat about 700 people – not huge but not tiny either.  I played a “dashing aviator” (the play is set in the early 1900s) named Joey Percival.  My makeup for the show was very basic, no fake mustache or wig or anything – just enough simple makeup that I didn’t wash out under the lights.  So what I’m saying is that, bottom line, I looked like me only English and witty.

 After a matinee (daylight!) one day I was standing around outside chatting with the rest of the cast when a woman came up to us saying how much she loved the show.  She turned to each actor and complimented them individually and when she got to me she said:

 “Were you in the show?”

 I said yes, that I had played Joey the aviator (it was a kind of a major role – hard to forget)

 She looked at me for a second, I saw the light dawn in her eyes and prepared myself for the compliment that was sure to come.

And then she said:

 “Oh!  You’re much better looking from far away.”


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