Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

From our house to yours...

Matt and Mabel and I wish you a very...

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dear Rain

Dear Rain,
This is really starting to get unfunny.
As much as I said I wanted to wear my rain coat, I'm good. You can stop now.

The streets are flooding. But more importantly, there was a waterfall on the inside of our chimney last night. Down the wall, onto the floor.

And as much as I enjoy falling asleep to the sound of flowing water, I really prefer creeks and streams as opposed to rushing water from under our crown molding. Plus, my car is very low and small, and it really cant forge the flooded streets.

And despite my normally cheery demeanor (Matt... stop laughing), I really am on the verge of staking out the personal homes of our roofing company employees until they give us a date that our roof will be replaced.

So please, rain, give us a break. Ease off a bit so I can enjoy the Halloween weekend. But more importantly, so Matt and I never have another night of running around in our pajamas as we yell and try to sop up the lake forming in our den.

Plus, the skin on my fingers is starting to prune. No rain coat is worth this.
Waterlogged Blogger

* Just heard from the roofers. We have a date!

An Ozark Halloween Tale of Darkness, a Woodpile, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Let's take a journey together, shall we? Consider me your ghost of Halloween past. Let's venture back to October 1993. It was a time before Twilight, before Edward and Bella, Sookie Stackhouse, and the Vampire Dairies. It was the time of... Buffy. Let me explain.

It was the week of Halloween, the leaves fluttering to the forest floor around our house in a picturesque mountain setting. But I didn’t care. All I cared about was my Boyz II Men tape, Doc Martins, and an ever increasing amount of over sized plaid shirts. I also cared about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I cared about this movie a lot. It was THE movie. And I had yet to see it, which was a source of great panic for me since all the girls at school modeled themselves after Kristy Swanson. And how could I begin to mimic her red lip stick and ballerina prom skirt if I hadn’t seen the movie?

After much pleading, mom swung by the video store and picked up a copy just for me. I was giddy. My little sister Rebecca was also giddy because her entire existence centered on copying my every move. The suburban creaked and rattled home, the Ozark Mountains surrounded in cold darkness as I clutched our rented video cassette in my hot little hand.

Our father was less than enthused about the prospect of spending the night watching a movie about a bleached blond teenager and floating vampires in a high school gym. As the dad of three daughters, Reggie is perhaps the most tolerant man on earth. But even he had his limits, and watching Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry stab vamps with stakes and make out was just a footstep over his threshold of tolerance.

"No," he stated resolutely when we got home, "I don’t want to watch that. Let's watch Lonesome Dove instead." My father is a tried and true Lonesome Dove fan. He can quote it. He could even re-enact it if the mood struck him correctly.

"But DADDYYYYYY," I yelled.

"Yeah.... Dadddyyyyyyy...." piped in Rebecca, my ever present parrot.

My father, never one to enjoy being the bad guy, shifted tactics. "Fine. If you and Becca will both run to the wood pile and back, alone, no flashlight, we'll watch Buffy the School Bimbo Slayer, or whatever it's called."

It was a fantastic move. A real life Check Mate. It belonged in the Genius Parenting Hall of Fame. Instead of crushing my dreams of teen moviedom outright, he decided to present me with a choice-based question that would inevitably lead to my kicking a rock and saying, "Never mind, we don’t have to watch it."

The woodpile was a short walk from the house, through the woods, in the dark. You must understand something about rural living. Growing up in the Ozark Mountains, you are versed in certain facts suburban dwellers live entire lives ignorant of. One: there really are such things as bears and bob cats and mountain lions. And two: All of these creatures, at various times, had ambled past the woodpile and into our yard. This was a perceived fear, as I look back, since my dad was a few yards away with his freakishly good night vision and a fire arm. Sorry to my gun-protesting readers... in the world of rural, guns are a fact of life.

But that wasn’t what scared me most. What scared me the most was zombies. They're the most terrifying combination of insane people and the quick, cat-like dead. To this day I watch movies about zombies and try to nail down my exact plan of survival. But that's another story for another time.

“Fine, I’ll do it,” I muttered.

Daddy frowned and glanced across the room at Mom for help, who was amused, watching the situation from afar.

"No, you both have to do it," Dad bargained, putting all his eggs in one basket, that basket being a kindergartner who should have balked at the prospect of an unescorted trip through the woods, in the dark, a few days before Halloween.

Rebecca shifted from one short leg to the other, realizing that her street cred was on the line. If she punked out, I would never let her in my room to play with lipstick or listen to the Cranberries. But if she did do it, she suspected there was the distinct prospect she might not make it back alive.

"Me too. I’ll to it too,” her head bobbed up and down as her lower lip trembled.

She was scared of bears. She was more scared of being a dork in the eyes of her older sister.

Dad eyed us, back and forth, perplexed and backed into a corner. He didnt want to watch Buffy, and he really didnt want us to run to the woodpile. He just wanted peace and the soothing soundtrack of Lonesome Dove playing in the background.

“Fine. Let's go."

We donned our coats and boots, tromping onto the front porch. In summer the forest that surrounds our home is green and beautiful. But in the fall, especially by late October, it’s spooky with dark branches jagged across the moonlit sky like skeleton fingers.

Dad frowned, never having intended for the ordeal to go this far, "Are you sure you want to do this?"

Rebecca and I, steeped in Buffy mania, nodded.

"Ok, Rebecca can go first."

We lost sight of Rebecca as she exited the small pool of light from the front porch, the crunch crunch of her boots in the gravel growing faint. I concentrated on her steps until I couldn’t hear them anymore. I also tried desperately to stop thinking about Dawn of the Dead.

And then, there was a shriek that cut through the silent night air, “I DID IT I DID IT.”

Rebecca was screaming victory from the wood pile, her footsteps coming closer, giving evidence of great speed. And as she drew closer to the pool of light around the porch, I could see her, white face upturned in the darkness, tears and snot streaming from her nose in the cold air, terror and pride written all over her little face.

“I DID IT,” she yelled/cried again, grabbing Daddy around the leg.

At this point, Daddy looked like he might cry. His plan of mental reasoning had backfired, and the result was two terrified daughters and a night of teen vampire cinema. It was not going well. Looking back, I feel great sympathy for him.

It was my turn. I bolted off the stone steps and sprinted into the darkness. My feet pounded and skidded on the gravel road, the wind streaking through my hair. The forest around me was completely silent, except for the sound of my breathing. The light from the front porch faded and I was completely engulfed in darkness.

Just me, falling leaves, the moon, and the zombies.

But nothing happened. Nothing sprung from the dark woods to bite me and infect me with zombie-itus. No bears roared. No bob-cats pounced. And as I ran back to the house, victorious over my fears as Rebecca clapped her tiny seven year old hands in encouragement for me, I realized I would finally get to watch Buffy.

I realized it would be a good night after all. I realized my poor father, surrounded by women and estrogen, was (and is) deserving of a house size trophy. And I also realized my little sister was one brave little sucker.

So we settled in with popcorn to watch the dramatics of Buffy and Luke Perry. My poor father even watched it with us. It was one of the best Halloweens I can remember.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

And Yet Another Lamp Makeover

* Check out Kimba's Do It Yourself Party Going on Now!

Rebecca is getting ready to move out. She's happy. I'm happy. But it's still a little sad. An end of an era, so to speak. It's been an unexpected joy to live with my baby sister as an adult.

In preparation, we're trying to wrap up the billion flea market projects planned for her new digs. Namely this huge lamp, which we've nicknamed Big Bird.

Like idiots we did NOT take a before picture. But trust me, it was pretty ugly. Amber glass, brass roses and trim, yellowed shiny lamp shade.

So we spray painted it yellow (it lacks an extra coat just for good measure) and recovered the shade with white denim and some ribbon for trim.

This is by far the most frustrating part of spray painting. It's what happens when you get too over-zealous and really glob on the paint. It runs and drips. Luckily, Rebecca is easy going and shrugged, saying, "Eh, I'll just turn that part to the wall."

So wish her luck. She's spreading her wings and entering a new phase of life. I wish I could send her on her way with lots of money and a fully furnished apartment.
But instead, she'll have to settle for a hug and a Big Bird lamp.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rainy Drive

It's wet and slushy downtown. The puddles are big, the air is cold. But here in my car, decked in sturdy rain boots and a hat, I'm warm.

And very thankful.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Plotting Thanksgiving, Already

We have a darkened and rainy sky, again. To divert myself from thinking about our leaky roof and the roofing company that keeps postponing the job, I've been cleaning. I busted out the sponges and cleaning spray and whipped the kitchen into shape (as in shape as my kitchen can be, that is).
And as I grabbed our designated 'onion bowl' from the shelves and took it onto the front porch to clean it out, I did what any sane and rational woman would do. I took a picture of it.

There is a method to my madness, sort of.
This year, for the very first time in eight years of marriage, we'll be having a holiday here at Mabel's House. My mom has benevolently agreed to let me host Thanksgiving this year.

So the point to my onion bowl picture taking is that I'm looking for some Thanksgiving table inspiration. And as I dusted the onion skins out, I couldn't help but admire how pretty they were against the aqua of the bowl. I think I've found my color inspiration for the table setting.

Because isn't everything prettier against an aqua backdrop? I hope so, since that's the emerging theme for our entire house.

So that's what I'm doing. Cleaning, taking pictures on our rainy front porch like a crazy woman, and trying my best not to call the roofers for a third day in a row.

I'll just keep distracting myself with dreams of an aqua and burlap Thanksgiving table. With pine cones. Can't forget the pine cones. I'm off to peruse flickr for some more ideas. AND... don't forget to head over to Hooked On Houses Fall House Tour Party.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sister Photo Session: Where's My Hand Sanitizer?

This weekend my sisters and I went home. And whenever we go home for the weekend, we go to church. And whenever we go to church, my mother breaks out the camera for a photo session because everyone is dressed up.

These things never go well.

In this particular instance, our sister Rachel (in the middle), had a cold. Here she is mid-sneeze... where the entire photo session went downhill.

And here she is sneezing. And here I am trying to hold my breath. It's flu season you know. You can never be too careful.

But instead of quarantining herself, Rachel decided to spread the love. Or in this case, her cold.

Which did not go over well with Rebecca, who threatened to pinch Rachel's face.

And Rachel responded by attempting to bite Rebecca's fingers.

At this point, for some odd reason, we all starting making finger puppets in the sunlight, and mom yelled something about us never being too old to spank as she turned off her camera and stomped inside.

And because I just KNOW you've all been craving a little folk music to go with your morning coffee... here's a clip from the Mountain View court square on Saturday.

Friday, October 23, 2009

How To Recover A Vintage Lampshade Without Burning Your Fingerprints Off and Yelling So Loudly The Dog Hides Under The Dining Room Table

This is my how-to guide to recovering vintage lampshades. First, let me state the obvious: I am not a pro at this. In fact, I’ve had many disasters involving me and a lampshade that ended up looking like Rocky’s punching bag. And just for the record, I HAVE burned my fingerprints and Mabel is still under the dining room table.

But hopefully, this will help you avoid some of my pitfalls.

If you’re like me, you love the shape of vintage lamps. There is nothing more fun than taking an old giant 70’s lamp of amber glass, shaped like a genie lantern, and spray painting it daisy yellow. Whoops, I think I just let my current project out of the bag early.

But what I don’t love is the shabby fabric usually accompanying the shades. It’s usually worn, and weird and glossy. More shabby than chic. So that’s where my recovering ventures began.

Step Number One: Examine your shade. If the stars align and heaven shines down on you, you will discover you possess a barrel shade like these. They are the easiest to recover. If not, if your shade is sloped and not completely round, your quest will be harder.

Step Two: Pick your fabric. I really liked using burlap this time b/c it was stretchable and adjustable mid-process. I also really like a sturdy white denim.

Step Three: Cut your fabric to fit the shade. If you possess a sloped shade, here is where the hair pulling begins. There is no easy answer for this that I’ve found. Basically if involves a lot of rolling around on the ground and kicking. One trick I have learned: use painters tape to secure the fabric to your shade when measuring/cutting.

Step Four: Gluing everything down. Some people are super talented, measuring and hemming each side and extend the fabric over the edges and into the lampshade (see this example here). There is an upside to this, which is you don’t have to worry about ribbon trim. But I’m not talented enough to pull it off. Once I did this and when I turned on the light the inside of the shade illuminated the jagged fabric hot-glued on the inside of the shade, which had valleys and peaks like the Ozark Mountains. So I cut my fabric exactly at the edges of the shade, if not a hair shorter (this will all be covered with the ribbon trim).

Some people prefer to use spray glue. I can see the advantages to this. Better adhesion, smoother surfaces. But I had an unfortunate experience with spray adhesive once. I sucked some of it up my nostrils mid-spray and spent the next week thinking pine sol smelled like banana Laffy Taffy. Not to mention the fact that I was CONVINCED my nose hairs would forever be glued together. So, I stick with hot glue. I always start with the top of the shade, working my way around, hot gluing the top down.

Once you have the top secured, start gluing the fabric to the bottom of the shade. This way, you can pull it smooth from the top, creating a smooth surface. Work your way all the way around, and secure the seam that runs from the top to the bottom of the shade. I don’t get too worried about how this looks b/c it always faces the wall. But if you want it to look more polished, fold it under before gluing to hide the jagged edge. REMEMBER to always line up the seam of your fabric with the actual seam of the lampshade. OR ELSE… when the light comes on, you’ll find you have TWO seams illuminated in your newly recovered shade. This has happened to me. Recently. But I don’t want to talk about it.

Step Five: Trim. I use ribbon to trim the top and bottom b/c it hides the jagged edges and, in my opinion, it’s like jewelry for your lampshade. Just a little something extra. Here is where you can go a little crazy, matching the ribbon to coordinating colors, layering different width ribbons on top of each other. It’s the best part of the project in my opinion.

Last, but not least, be cautious with older wiring. Vintage lamps are fun, vintage wiring can be sketchy. Remember to always examine the cords, make sure they’re not crumpled or frayed, and when at all possible, rewire them!

Now go forth and recover. I know, I know. How do you avoid burning your fingerprints? Yeah, I fibbed. You really can’t avoid that. It’s just gonna happen. Sorry.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Design Sponge, Acorns Gone Wrong

My little lamp makeover was featured on Design Sponge today.

Some people love Elvis.

Some people collect Hello Kitty memorabilia.

Others obsess about Nascar and fast cars.

I, on the other hand, am a Design Sponge nut. AND on the same day that Kim featured Mabel's House. As Meme says, "When it rains it pours." In other news: Remember the acorns?

One word: WORMS.

Ahhh... you ladies tried to warn me. Ew.

But I'm not telling Pottery Barn.

I still say store-bought fake acorns are a crock.

Storing Up For Winter

* BIG thanks to Kim for featuring me on Today's Creative Blog!

Much like the fat squirrels in our backyard, Mabel is following their example. She's cleaning out her bowl, stalking us at the table, and as seen in this picture, begging. In short... she's doing A LOT of eating.

I don't have the heart to tell her that unlike the squirrels, she doesn't really need the extra fat store. She's good.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Several people emailed me yesterday and said, "Um... where's the Martha Stewart skeleton? Let's see him!" And so, I present to you... Skeletor.

I'm really quite fond of Skeletor.

Mabel, on the other hand, HATES him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apartment Hunting: The Good, The Bad, The Scary

In addition to my feeble attempts to STOP buying everything from the Martha Stewart Halloween line at Michael's (like this super fun paper skeleton), I've been helping my sister find an apartment.

And ladies, let me tell you, at times our apartment quest has been pretty darn scary. We've seen plain. We've seen expensive. We've seen, well, the slums. Take this place for instance. It could be cute, emphasis on cute, if it hadn't been for the bars on all the windows and the cracked out neighbor slumped in the hallway smoking a cigarette. I think the word the landlord used was 'potential'... which I translated to, "slaughtered in your sleep."

The kitchen needed painting and about three bottles of bleach, which is fine, except I kept sniffing the air and yelling, "Do you smell gas?"

The bathroom again, needed a gallon of paint and some bleach, not to mention duck tape to secure the pipes that clanked like the ghost of Bob Marley (b/c the clanking reminded me of the beat from Stir It Up, not to mention the, ahem, herbal aroma drifting down from the second floor).

But what finally cinched it with me was the sight of this toilet. Shuddersville right here. I just started shaking, Rebecca tried to stifle her dry heaves and we ran, our skirts flapping and fluttering behind us in disdain.
In short... this place was a dump.

And just when we thought all hope was lost, we found duplex perfection.

A little cottage with charm and toilets that DON'T look like they've been barfed in, beaten with a tire iron, and barfed in again. The kitchen has its original bead board back splash that makes me jealous, cute orange counter tops, wood floors, and nine foot ceilings.
Sigh. I want to live here too.

And now (insert evil genius laughter here) I'll be rubbing my hands together and plotting all kinds of paint projects for my soon-to-be-independent little sister.

Yeah. I know. She'll end up yelling at me before this is over.