Archive for ‘Redesign’

March 14, 2011

Meet Jesse!

While I sometimes force Boyfriend to sit with me while I work on projects, for the most part I sand, paint and prime all by myself. At the end of a long day, working on a project like the little pink desk (seen here, here and here) helps my mind unwind and it is practically therapeutic. After pretending all day to be a grown-up, painting with no lines to consider or conversation to keep up is relaxing. I just want to getaway and these little projects are my sandy white beach.

On my grouchiest days I want to be alone while I work, with only trashy reality TV and a Diet Dr. Pepper to keep me company. However, without fail, someone always follows me down to my project hideaway in the basement. Not caring whether or not I want company or how bad my day was, Jesse is right on my heels as I descend the basement stairs… that is, unless he trips over his monkey and tumbles down to the bottom first.

Meet Jesse:

Jesse doesn’t really belong to me. He is kind of a rental… but don’t tell him I said that. His situation is confusing enough as it is for his tiny little dog brain. You see, his dad (one of my very best pals) lives in Wichita and has a job that requires him to travel with very little notice. He sends Jesse a check every month for his upkeep and stops in to say hi when he is in this neck-of-the-woods. We came up with this plan without stepping foot in a court room. (Well, pretty much I volunteered to watch the little guy until something more permanent comes along.) I would say he is the kind of my favorite thing out of all my stuff but that will give him a big head.

And sometimes he eats poop.

Jesse sprawls himself out on the floor of the Man Room (my dad’s workshop where I currently work on projects since it isn’t reliable weather outside yet) and faithfully waits until I decide I am done for the day.  As I start to close up the paint can, Jesse always scrambles to his feet, leans back on his hind legs to stretch, leans forward to stretch his haunches and shakes his fur free of dust and wood shavings from past projects. He languidly walks to the door and waits for me to go upstairs. As we climb up the stairs, Jesse’s tail is always wagging and I am always glad he was there to keep me company.

As a little “Thanks For The Temp Dog!” for Jesse’s dad, I busted open a box of 96 Crayolas and colored a card from the both of us. It was cute and it smelled like kindergarten but I think we could do better. Project details to come!

March 8, 2011

Picking 102: Picking Rules (or… How To Avoid Absolute Humiliation)

Let’s be real… Slowly driving around a strange neighborhood in a black SUV won’t make you very popular. (Especially with parents.) What will make you even less popular is hopping out of your car and approaching their property. (Especially if the kids are outside.) No worries, parents! I am not after your sticky-popsicle-hands little tykes… I am after your trash.

(Hit rock bottom of popularity scale here.)

Picking is embarrassing enough. No one has the same transforming trash vision as you otherwise they wouldn’t be tossing such treasures! When a homeowner sees you rifling through their garbage, they most likely run to their TV and immediately set the DVR to record “Hoarders” in hopes that they might see your mental stability documented on A&E.  This is embarrassing. Not following the Rules of Picking can make picking humiliating.

Picking Rule #1: Know Your Limits

On a perfect Spring afternoon sometime last year, I was cruising down Kearney (a street in Manhattan, KS) when I spied a particularly forlorn dresser. It was missing a drawer or two and maybe even a leg, but it had potential. I screeched to a halt, hopped out of my SUV, popped the trunk and got to work.

“Okay,” I thought to myself as I folded down the back seats, “You can do this… No need to call boyfriend….”

I drug the dresser as far as I could to the curb and still no one was in sight. I then curled my fingers under the lip of the dresser on each end and proceeded to lurch towards my open trunk, praying that no one was peering through their blinds as this very second. As I got closer to the car, I began to lean back, hoping to guide the dresser into my car feet first. The further I leaned, the more the existing drawers threatened to come crashing on the pavement which I prevented by sticking my knees over the drawers. The only way to describe this position would be a cross between crab walking and doing the Monster Mash. It was not a pretty sight. When I realized the dresser wasn’t going to fit that way… I should have given up. Right then and there… I should have thrown in the towel.

But I didn’t.

I wiped the sweat from brow and tried another angle… And another… And another. It must have been a time where class was just breaking and students were just starting to flock towards campus and I panicked. What if some one walks by that I know!? Sweat began to surface–not from exertion but from the fear of being recognized. I finally came to terms with losing the war with the dresser. The dresser was a cat; my house was the vet and my trunk? A teeny tiny kennel. There was no way this dresser was going to the vet home with me. Just as a large group of people turned the corner on to Kearney and headed towards campus, I ditched the dresser in the gutter and darted back to the driver’s seat.

But not before a nice man offered to help. “No, thanks! I didn’t really want it anyways,” I lied as my face burned red and I sped off.

Humiliating. Make sure you know what fits in your car and (more importantly) what does not.

March 3, 2011

Picking 101: Big Trash Day

It is March! Finally February had melted away and spring is right around the corner. For college students, visions of sugared daiquiri rims and sandy beaches dance in their heads. For Boyfriend it’s the Kansas City Royals home opener. For me, though? There is one thing this weather means. Big Trash Day.

Big Trash Day is the mother of all trash days. It is an inspiration for people all over the city to bust out of that winter funk, throw open their windows and clear their houses of junk and the dust it collects. Spring Cleaning was never really a concept I embraced. (When we had to spring clean at the sorority house, I checked in and then made my self scarce. As long as someone at least saw you down there for a minute…) The Spring Cleaning phenomenon culminates in one glorious day where the city allows you to put TWO PICK-UP TRUCK’S worth load of trash at the end of your drive way. Appliances, furniture, rusty old water heaters and all kinds of stuff! The garbage man will take it all…

…Unless I get to it first.

There is a certain art to gathering one mans trash to transform into your own treasure. What we call “picking” is a concept I believe I learned from my precious Granny. Her house was a maze of picked chairs and trinkets she lovingly spray painted gold. She picked for the good of others, always having a couch or bed frame available for someone in need. Taking things off of the end of people’s driveways takes guts and requires no shame because, chances are, the nosy homeowner is peeking out their window and wondering why the hell you want their crap. They are most likely imagining the new home for the drawer-less dresser you are struggling to stuff into your car… and it ain’t pretty.

This course on “picking” (essentially taking awesome pieces of trash to transform into awesome stuff) centers largely around Big Trash Day, simply because it is the easiest of picking opportunities. A successful pick is one that is discrete and quick. Even though picking is totally legal (I think), there is a certain rush associated with the grab-and-go. When you are cruising through a neighborhood and a forlorn lamp with no shade catches your eye, it is easy enough to screech to a halt, jump out of your car grab the lamp and Go! Go! Go! No one saw you and even if they did, you were quick enough to leave them wondering, “What just happened?” Small picking is easy.

It is the big stuff that, unless properly handled, can lead to pulled muscles, scratched bumpers and (most importantly) a damaged ego. It is important to know your limits, which is why I am devising a “How-To Pick” for all you wannabe Big Trash Day Treasure Hunters.

Stay tuned for this How-To because, baby… It’s Pickin’ Season!

March 1, 2011

Pretty as a Peony

After the knee jerk decision to choose a soft and sweet pink for my latest bargain buster I couldn’t be more thrilled. Usually decisions this simple throw me into a whirlwind of anxiety and self-doubt. For example, McDonald’s Drive-Thru Crisis: February 27, 2010. Caramel Sundae or Shamrock Shake? I chose the Shamrock Shake and was left clutching my tummy with regret. See what wrong decisions do to you?! Wrong decisions punish you. They are gut-wrenching reminders that hindsight is 20/20 and your foresight needs Coke-bottle lenses. Bifocals, too. Oh… and did I mention your foresight just fogged like you opened the dishwasher during the hot rinse?

This lack of regret and absence of “what ifs” is wonderfully refreshing. I didn’t even lose a wink of sleep over my “Ballet Slipper” decision.

I imagined the school desk as a super girlie piece and playing school with my sisters was just the beginning of its petal pink persona. With February thawing into March, I am starting to crave peonies… a thirst just barely quenched by this month’s issue of Midwest Living:

I’d be lying if I told you this House Beautiful didn’t have something to do with my inspiration, as well:

(Though between you and me, I am doubting that all men love pink. Also, how awesome is that yellow and white stripped chair?)

As March roars in like a lion, thawing away my winter blues, I am sure I won’t be able to pinpoint any one inspiration for these pretty pinks the same way you’ll never know why “Candy” by Mandy Moore is on repeat in your mental boombox on a random Wednesday afternoon. The thing that has me baffled was that uncharacteristic snap decision under the fluorescent lights of the Home Depot paint displays. But I guess I just knew.

When you know, you know. You know?

(Also… Paint is temporary. An aversion to Shamrock Shakes is not.)

(…until next year.)

February 28, 2011

Playing School > Actual School

As the youngest of three girls, I often leached on to whatever my sisters were doing, saying or playing. I am sure this got annoying at times and despite their attempts to ostracize me (they coined themselves “The Bigs”… a nickname that clearly didn’t involve their baby sister), I managed to weasel myself into a few games where three participants were absolutely necessary. The most notable of these games was “School.”

Playing School was simple enough. One person was the teacher and the other two were the students. The teacher was always my oldest sister, Katie. Meghan and I were always her obedient pupils… a trend that carried over to all aspects of our lives as her minions. In order to play School, Katie would demand her privacy while setting up the schoolroom in the unfinished playroom area of our basement. Meghan and I would wait patiently in the living room as Katie toiled away with lesson plans and handwritten worksheets.  We would play with My Little Ponies, hop from pillow to pillow avoiding “Hot Lava” stretches of carpet, or just sit on the sectional and pick our noses until Katie opened the door.

Our schoolroom was a wonderful place. Thin black carpet covered the unfinished, cold, cement floor and the unpainted cement walls were covered in chalk drawings and schoolgirl declarations of love. (So-And-So hearts Whats-His-Face! Me + Boy-In-The-Other-Class = LOVE 4EVER!) There was a just-like-the-cartoons, green chalkboard and yellow chalk and a colorful, pull-down map that still featured Thailand as Siam. An old computer cabinet served as the teacher’s desk stuffed with old textbooks we scrounged up from garage sales and recycling day at our grade school. As perpetual students, Meg and I saddled up to real, laminated wood, hinged school desks that spilled everything on to the floor when you tried to access a pencil stored inside. It was perfect.

What made playing school so much better than actually GOING to school? It was just us three for the most part and Katie usually got sick of playing ten minutes after she allowed Meghan and me into the schoolroom. (But not after sending one of us to stand with our nose pressed up against a thick, chalk dot on the wall—a punishment dreamed up by kids who have never known a switch or a smack.) Do little boys play school, or is it just the girls that accidentally call their teacher “Mom” every once in a while?

When it came to painting the desk I picked up a few weeks ago, I originally planned to paint it something crisp and fresh or bold and dramatic, not whimsical and girlie. I walked into Home Depot determined to pick a color that fell into one of those categories, but walked out with a color called “Ballet Slipper”… a color reminiscent of the paint that was smeared across my bedroom walls during my years playing School.

Ballet Slipper