Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Art of Upcycle

The Treehouse at Creekview Country Cottage Bed & Breakfast
Have you ever had the urge to re-create yourself?  Maybe it was after a relationship breakup or a pregnancy came to an end, or you lost a bunch of weight?  Well, I have been feeling the urge since returning from Pennsylvania.  My sister and I stayed at the Creekview Cottage Bed & Breakfast during our two weeks there.  It was perfect in every sense ...a private little pocket deep in the woods and mountains and was exactly what I had been dreaming of during the long care-taking ordeal.  Our hostess, Andrea, is now a dear friend to us.  She is an indomitable force wrapped up in a petite lady who has a passion for living.  The three is  us are "senior-ish" but Andrea has so much vitality and spunk that it would be hard for anyone to accurately guess her age.  I was impressed with her fashionable yet practical attire.  She carried off her favorite magentas and pinks and studded sparkly skinny jeans with ease.  My sister has always been a fashion statement, even in her understated way with black and white and gray.  ...And there I was with my old straight-leg stretchy Lee's and plain long sleeve T's, with my decades old Eagle Outfitters boots.  One of my sneakers blew a sole after a few days, and my comfy old jeans had a blowout too.

I didn't realize how out-of-step I had gotten until I saw some photos from the trip.   OMG, I was the granny in the photos!  I couldn't believe my eyes!  For someone who had sewn prolifically, I was always a step ahead of fashion.  For 14 years I was a dressmaker for a European pattern company, and I got the patterns at least a year before they influenced the United States fashion scene.  However, for the past 6 years, I had not really been able to just go shopping.  Getting out of the house was a challenge, and because of that, I made due with what I had.  Meanwhile, everything was getting shabbier and as garments were cast off, they were rarely replaced with something really happening.  When I did get out, I grabbed anything simple that fit and hurried back home.  ...Eventually, I would have been a fashion zilch.  ...Now I have to stop you all right here, as I am not inclined to follow every fad and fancy.  I go for style, and my style was looking like granny's closet.

Well, this calls for a huge makeover.  One of the first things I have done is to look at shoes.  Although I still have not replaced the sneakers, I did purchase some drop-dead gorgeous boots I have been lusting after for the past year:

The BedStu Manchester boot!  I adore them!  They are stylish and yet very simple.  My head is filled with ideas for boot fringes

 and knit boot toppers

...and bracelets and to make.

As I was going through the closet, I came across a favorite magenta knit Henley.  The back of the neckline had separated from the binding and I was ready to toss it when I thought of a Free People favorite that has a patchwork look.  I spent the past few days altering the top and now I have a new/old Henley to wear that is very fashionable.  ...There may be no end to this!

Free People's Kyoto cuff top that inspired me

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Little Someth'n-Someth'n

Everything is different now  ...Better, but still feeling strange not to have my mother here with us.  ...Just taking things easy and trying to get caught up with life and that never seems to be the case for me.  There is always so much that I want to do and need to do.

Making and being creative has been taking a back seat lately, but I do have a beaded wrap bracelet to share.  I had started beading while my mother was fading away from us, and finally completed it just a week ago.  I am quite taken with this boho thing on my wrist. 

The inspiration came when I had to shorten a new pair of jeans.  As the old hem came off, I just knew it would be fun to upcycle into a bead/fiber sort of wrap bracelet.  I sewed over the double rows of stitching and then trimmed close to the stitching so that the edges would fray.  I sewed the beading down and added crochet cord wraps to transition and hide joins, and finished the ends with crimp beads and covers.  Eyelets were added and made perfect places to add in dangling baubles.  Its finished with a toggle clasp.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall, and Everything Changes

Abandoned.  I know it has been some time since my last post.  So much has been in chaos here.  After many long months in slow decline, my mother let go of this life and passed on to the next, on August 30th.  She let go peacefully and in the serenity that has followed, I am in infinite Peace.  This is a wonderful gift.  And as the leaves fall off the trees, I feel the bareness left behind ...a vacuum that needs to be filled.  I feel an urgency to fill up the bare spaces that have been left in my life, and yet, at the same time, I want to luxuriate in the gentleness of the calm place.  Within it there is a harmonious softness that I have not experienced in a very long time.  In spite of life trying to press in on and pierce my little bubble of calm and balance, I am holding on and allowing it to create an indelible imprint on my spirit.

A dream I have been holding onto ever since the madness of Alzheimer's came into our lives 6 years ago, was to spend about two weeks up in the mountains of Pennsylvania.  It is a place hidden away from everything.  I have always found it to be a place of regeneration and healing, as well as inspiration.  The Great Creator smiled on me, and my mother passed over just days before I was scheduled to make a shorter trip there on family business.  Changing arrangements, I was able to spend those two weeks there, and along with my sister, we were able to lay my mother and father to rest together.  For many years they had talked about being scattered on the family property, and that is what we did. 

My sister had an idea to create a place that would be totally natural and would have a little permanence to it.  The perfect spot was an ancient apple tree over 100 years old that was almost completely hollow at it's base and yet bears fruit abundantly.  It has fed many generations of deer and given a thrill of enjoyment to generations of relatives who have spent hours on a porch swing of a cabin on the other side of the field (looking for deer).  We carried stones up from the creek, and Melanie went to work.  I mostly stayed out of her way.  ...Who am I to interfere with creative genius?  After a few hours, she had created this lovely little rock garden where ashes were laid to rest.  We placed apples all around.  The following day we returned and all the apples had been eaten.  The deer had been to pay their respect.  A garter snake had taken up residence along with a millipede. 

You are the stones, you are the trees, you are the fireflies, you are the breeze. You did not die, you did not leave, your spirit thrives, I need not grieve. ―Melanie Renn

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Feel Like the 60's

Beading and macrame were passions in the 60's and 70's.  I even got the hubby of the moment to get
into the macrame and he helped with larger projects.  I remember hanging rope from a patio arbor to make plant hangers and wall hangings.  I was doing the free-range thing way back then with combining various cords and yarns for texture.  I did many little projects with crochet cord for jewelry as in the bracelet to the right.  It's all that remain of those days.  We didn't have much money, and hippy crafts were cheap.  I loved beads, but hated rat tail cord that always broke during wear and left me scrambling up beads from their scattered landing spots.  I gave it all up until I was a Cub Scout den mommie and my cubbies did some beaded key "chains" to satisfy the Indian badge. It was a brief resurgance and then years later, I had a wonderful Union Bay denim man shirt that I wore the poo out of.  At some point, I got out a shoe box and did some bead work for the shoulder seams.  About 2 years ago I upcycled that shredded shirt into small shoulder bags.  I tried to sell them on Etsy, but Etsy has never been golden for me.

gorgeous wrap bracelet found on Pinterest

This week has seen me returning to beading.  I am drooling over a gorgeous wrap bracelet I found through Pinterest and tangent searches.  After pinning it, it has been climbing in popularity, and I have wanted to make my own version.  The hammer and torch-ering metal is on hold for a while as my right side is sore from neck muscles down to the right hand fingertips due to what I jokingly refer to as "man-handling" (lifting and moving) during care-giving activities. Repetitive stress injury can be devastating and I want my body to heal and take it easy while this level of care continues.  I have moved the bed position so that I am using my left side more, and trying to be more mindful as I lift and move her in the bed.  Now that she has been bed-ridden for nine months, I am simply forced to take better care of myself.

So, this is my little project.  ...Just getting started, and I plan to add some leather and wrapped cord too.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Studio Setback

I am so bummed.  The de-cluttering I have been doing has gone well, carrying out at least one bag of trash daily is so great, and I do still have a way to go with organizing the rest of the "stuff."  However, as floor space and table tops began to clear, my mind was racing ahead to how best to move the table near the window and how to arrange the rest of the furniture.  I realized that my plan to remove the computer and all the related paraphernalia to another room was impossible because that room has no space available.  It also hit me that all the furniture would have to hug the walls and would be lined up close together circling the room.  Such a major frustration!

So, wallowing in a pity party and confusion, I missed the deadline I set for myself which was July 31st.   So, my option is to leave the table as it is (and hope for the Dream Plan to evolve in the near future after a great deal of work and planning of other spaces).  The cons are that I sacrifice the natural light, the view, and having a wall at the back of the table, and a lessening of work space since the table butts up against the computer desk at a right angle.  I am also concerned about over-lapping work spaces.  Paperwork done at the computer will certainly overflow to any adjoining space.  I challenging issue is that I was going to hang my Dremel flex shaft from a towel bar on the wall.  Positioned as the table is now, that is not possible and I have been wracking my brain for solutions.  Obviously, from this amusing sketch by The Dremel Amateur I am not the only one trying to figure it all out.  ...Don't worry, I will never go this route.  Backpacking a tool like that would have my hair so tangled you wuold have to hold me down and shave my head to get me free.

My new Dream Plan will have to be a long-range goal.  I'll keep posting as I figure it out.  In the meanwhile, I think I will get another cup of spicy coffee to help clear my muddled brain and then settle in for yet another day of clearing and figuring out how to get set up.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Dream Studio 1

...A studio that I can't wait to get into every day and love and feel the space loving and nurturing me back.

I have been putting a lot of thought into this idea.  My Aquarius nature often runs me into the brick wall of other's conservative tastes.  Just recently, in a flash of brilliant decorating, I decided to make the sink window alcove of my country/cottage decorated kitchen more user friendly.  A dark wood surround of old cabinets and poor lighting have frustrated my meal preparations for years.  I got the bright idea to paint the sides of the cabinets facing the window a sky blue like my porch ceiling and it was like instant lighting just from reflected light.  You can actually see this reflecting in the photo.  Good choice!  Then I wanted to hang an old vegetable shredder upside down and suspend a hand towel from it's handle.  To play up the rustic cottage look and add some color, I began screwing down old used paint sticks to the cabinet sides (remember I am a shameless clutter-holic ...and besides, they can always be used again).  I wanted to be able to remove them if/when we move for a more conservative owner.  I mounted the shredder to those and hung the towel.  Love it!  however, when I showed off my brilliant project to the DH his usual state of perfect balance fell away and he blurted out:  "Oh no, we really won't be able to sell this house now!"  I was crushed and have not gone any further with my decorating plan for that window.  ...I will eventually, probably once the studio is done and things are returning to normal this fall.  Anyway, my point is that I would love to personalize every inch of space in this house and see cheerful color everywhere. In the studio with its cream walls?  ...maybe just one wall...  It should be a different one than the working wall which I want to be as bright an area as possible.

Something like this painted wall I shot at Black Lion on a visit to Charlotte, NC...

...a beautiful wash of color, peachy pink first, then faint touches of a warm thin gold, and a white wash lightly brushed over all, it would be a beautiful touch to my studio, and not necessarily in that color.  I also like the idea of beige tone on tone, or white-washed blue.  I have not painted anything in the house blue yet, but it might be too calming for a room meant too encourage inspiration.  I really like lime green, but have three green rooms already, ...and I love purples too but it is so dark.  It has to be light and bright in this workspace.


...or perhaps I may wain Poetic, and take a more artistic approach writing snippets of positive thoughts with a chiseled brush a la calligraphy





...or maybe I will go WabiSabi!

...and the list goes on!  I love having so many wonderful choices.  The possibilities are exhilarating.  The important thing is to choose a total look that will enthuse me with satisfaction every time I enter the room.  It must be a look that sets the tone for artistic expression.  The studio must give me the feeling of a comfortable nest.  ...That means a bit on the rustic side yet with touches of whimsy to encourage playfulness in my creativity.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Race is On! Week 1

I am actually doing "it."  

The "it" is the de-cluttering that I have lusted after for so many years now.  In the week since my last post, I have managed to remove one trash bag of junk to throw out every day.  Well, almost.  I had one day that I just simply crashed.  My momentum had been rising and I was so proud of  myself that I went ahead and ordered the Ott light that I chose for my work table.  I found exactly what I wanted from Lowe's.  It is so perfect that I am giddy waiting for it's delivery. It has a 38" reach so that I can have it well out of the way of my work and tools and still provide bright, full-spectrum light.  It's LED and I won't be sweating under it.  When I am working with the Dremel Flex Shaft I can position it so I won't catch it with the cord. On tracking delivery of my light, I see it will arrive on Monday and not Wednesday, as expected, so I really need to ramp up the clearing process because I planned that it would arrive when I was ready to place the table and I am not ready yet.  It's my carrot.

I have had "carrots" before this, but nothing helped much.  I was never able to get past a small amount of organizing one thing and at the same time making another mess in the process.  ...Like the time I organized all my yarn.  I bought hanging closet shelves and stashed like colors in different shelves.  That was great, but I continued to buy more yarn and didn't have room for more.  Then there were boxes and bags piling up and scattered around the floor in front of the closet, making it harder to get to the organized yarn.  You get the picture.

In all fairness to myself, I have not had it easy in this room.  I have a business, my husband has a business and we have yet another between the both of us.  I have several hobbies.  Combine all that in a 10 X 10 room, and have it all organized and I will be awestruck.  In the book,  Organizing From the Inside Out, Julie recommends the kindergarten classroom approach of having distinct areas for each activity.  Well, I decided to boot a few to another room.  I will make it work, and am happy with the prospect of having the business stuff in another room.  The book makes it such a simple vision to hold onto.

I began reading about the emotional aspects of why people hold on to the stuff.  I can relate to many of them.  Our past is often filled with wonderful memories and memorabilia that it is hard to let go of.  Mostly, I go about organizing in a very attention deficit way.  I read one author who described it as the "butterfly" approach.  The butterfly starts out in one spot, then flies to another (perhaps to put something away in another room) and then gets distracted there until the same thing happens again.  The result is I make a mess everywhere I end up and I am totally overwhelmed.

Julie's solution is to begin sorting through the clutter as a first step in the hands on approach.  In sorting, I keep a trash bag at hand to get rid of the all the old papers and junk that has no current or future purpose.  ...As I said, a bag each day is going to the trash!  I am so grateful for this slow but steady progress.  Because I stay in one place, I am not making messes all over the house, and slowly I am clearing both those vertical and horizontal square feet.