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This is what I’m working on this week:

The paint is ASCP Emperor’s Silk.  I won’t tell you what the piece is!  But I have to finish it before we move, because it can’t come with us (alas!) so stay tuned…

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Firstly, do not buy a dining set without taking your partner along.  You will need his help, if not his advice.

Secondly, do not buy a dining set while your large puppy is with you.  He will make it harder to get the chairs in the car.  He might run around the yard.  He might scare the Craigslist seller.  Once you get one dog and two chairs safely stowed away, he might chew the chair legs.

Thirdly, do not go back for the rest of the set without securing a larger vehicle.  And some help (see above).

Notice how much more sensible I was about the sofa, in that I said to My Friends, “I need help.”  And My Friends said, “We will help you.”  (Thank you, Friends.)

Okay, somewhat more sensible.

Have I introduced you yet to The Little Corolla That Could?

Readers, meet the Corolla.  Corolla, Readers.

But I digress!  Back to my rules.

Fourthly, once you have loaded but not over-loaded your vehicle, do not drive home Granny-style, five miles slower than the rest of traffic with your flashers on.  Especially do not get on the expressway doing this.

Fifthly, it might not have been a great idea to use the printer cart to get the table out of the car and into the garage, but… hey, no help (see above).

Truly, my Craigslist seller was a gem not only for selling me a table and four chairs for $85, but for letting me make two trips (on two different days) to get everything; for worrying that my dog was going to run into her street; and for helping me load up the table while wrangling two small children.  Her little boy picked up all the screws for me, too, as I detached the drop-leaves from the table.  He cried when there was no more helping to be done.  He also needed to be kept from running into the street, and he was just completely adorable.

The new chairs are pretty adorable, too:

(iPhoto snapshot taken with Instagram)

I can’t wait to change that upholstery.  Hm, and maybe paint.  I should probably leave them be until we move… but I probably won’t!

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I really like roses.  The color, the aroma, even the flavor.  So of course I love rosy teas.

What I don’t like are teas that bill themselves as rosy, and are full of rose hips or hibiscus instead; typically, these teas have a lovely pink hue and a bright, sweet-tart flavor and very little to do with roses.

Recalling this history of desire and disappointment, when I saw an unfamiliar rose tea on the grocery-store shelf I was intrigued enough to pick it up but wary enough to keep my expectations low.  And so I have been pleasantly surprised by Tazo’s Rest tea.

It’s really rosy.

(And that makes me think of the song: “I’m really Rosie/ And I’m Rosie real./ You’d better believe me/ I’m a great big deal!”  RIP, Maurice Sendak.)

It’s really rosy.  At least, the aroma is; when I opened the box, I smelled my grandmother’s dresser drawers.  Tazo bills it as a nighttime tea, featuring chamomile and valerian for their relaxing properties with some citrus peels and florals.  No hibiscus; no rose hips.  The flavor is less rosy than the aroma.  The chamomile is hardly present except as a sort of base.  Lemony citrus is the most prominent note, with a lingering hit of Grandma’s Potpourri in rose and musty lavender, and a little ginger to finish.

I’ve always favored lemon/ginger teas at night, when I’m not favoring minty ones; one of my favorites is the Republic of Tea’s Orange Ginger Mint.  So this tea is built along familiar lines.  With the addition of roses, you might suspect that Tazo was thinking of me particularly.

And I like it.  I like it a lot.  I don’t love it; the slight mustiness of the lavender is off-putting, and I find a gingery bite energizing, not relaxing.  The flavor is mild but that’s all to the good in a tea that’s supposed to lull you to sleep.

What I do love is making myself a pot of very girly tea (B won’t touch this), and lighting the fire (it’s May, but this is upstate NY), and curling up with a book (I’m reading Jennifer Crusie just now).

Good night!


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No desk I try is ever quite right for me.  I’m short, and I’m an untidy worker.

The spinet desk I used in our last apartment was too constricting.  There was no room for my teacup!

The antique table I’ve been using here is better, but its one-drawer storage is inadequate.

For a long time, I didn’t have any particular solution in mind, but last month I saw a wide, shallow vanity on Craigslist that looked like it might fit the empty wall in the study.  I liked the shape, but not the white paint.  Now, normally I am all about white-painted furniture.  But the vanity table has a good bit of detail on it, and it looked very feminine and… well… a bit frivolous.  I wanted a desk with a more serious attitude.  Something that would say to me, “Sit down and get to work.”

Because I need that kind of help sometimes.

So I began stripping the paint off the top of it, to uncover the original dark finish.

The white paint had not, upon close inspection, been carefully applied to all that decorative detail.  So I decided to strip the body, too.

And then, you know, since I was working on it anyway… I might as well do the drawers.  I didn’t mind the crazing, but their veneer was starting to chip.

I still felt like Goldilocks.  I was on my third desk in as many years, but: “Not quite right.  Nope, not this way either.  How about this…”

When it was as bare as I could get it, I painted the body in ASCP French Linen.  That looked kind of anemic, so when I got out the ASPC Dark Wax for the top surface, I dark-waxed the whole thing.

Finally, it’s Just Right.

Right down to the details.

There’s plenty of room on top for my laptop, along with a cup of pens, a lamp and a plant, a slate coaster from Wales, a little dish for my phone, and a bright yellow clock.

Yes, the clock works, but I can’t tell time so it hardly matters.

Now that we’ve come this far, I may as well show you the rest of the tiny room.  Our house was built in the 1920’s by a doctor, and we’ve been told that this little room near the front door was his waiting room.  It’s hardly large enough for any practical purpose, especially when you take into account all the occupied wall space (three windows, and a wall of built-in glass-front bookcases).  We call it “the study” but really it has been Jackson’s room: his safe space, where his food and his water dish live, and where a baby gate keeps him from harm if scary people came to the door.  He runs right inside when the doorbell rings, but he doesn’t like to hang out there unless someone keeps him company.

We hung a wire shelf over the desk, to hold family photos.  This one of B’s grandmother braiding rugs seems especially right in its space…

…because that’s her braided rug on the floor.

A couple of months ago, I painted the stark white walls with the same soft ivory paint I’d used in the living room.  The tiny room’s best feature is the wall of built-in glass-front oak bookcases opposite the front windows.

I bet that doctor used to keep his Readers’ Digests in them, and the Saturday Evening Post.  And maybe some leather-bound anatomy textbooks.  And a matched set of something he ordered through the mail — the collected work of O. Henry, bound in dark green cloth covers with gilt lettering.  I see those books at flea markets all the time; some of them look unread.

I wonder if his patients read from the shelves, or brought their own reading material.  Some of them watched the street outside.  Some of them were too busy worrying to concentrate on anything else.

I keep my collection of early edition Heyer in these bookcases.

The new desk suits the space and really, I think, completes it: now it’s useful for Jackson, and useful for me, and pleasant to look upon.

Of all the rooms in the house, I have used this one the least — but I think I’m going to miss it the most.


Project linked at Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Feature Friday link party.

Furniture Feature Fridays

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May Moon

Tonight's moon was supposed to be huge, so Jackson and I went to the cemetery to check it out. I can't say it seemed extra big, but it sure was bright! I practiced my nighttime photography skillz; this is the best shot I got. But we had a good walk.

…and this happened

Details will be forthcoming.

Happy Birthday!

On Monday, April 30th, my Mama turned 70.

On Tuesday, April 31, my Mama turned cartwheels.

I can’t wait to see what she gets up to at 80!

(Pictures taken with Instagram on my iPhone.)

Ah, Easter

WE have had a busy weekend!

But I can’t tell you about it yet.

I’m not being coy.  It’s really a secret.

So we had a busy weekend, and on our way back we stopped in my hometown and had Easter dinner with my family — which is to say, my Mama and the two neighborhood families who make up, in truth, my extended family.  It was good to see them.  And they fed us well — and sent us home with a care package.  I love my family.

Meanwhile, Jackson has just experienced his very first visit to a kennel.  “It’s harder for you than for him,” the manager told B as she led the dog away.  We’ll go pick him up tomorrow and find out whether he’s forgiven us!


I’ve been needing a new bedside table for quite some time, but couldn’t find just the right one… until this Wednesday.  And when I found it, I was so pleased that I had to tackle it immediately.  It turned out to be a 24-hour project, from pickup to posting.


I got it from Craigslist, of course.  In the absence of good thrift stores or secondhand furniture shops in this city, nearly all my projects come from Craigslist.  I drove out to a stranger’s house after work on Wednesday, and she showed me  furniture in various stages of decay and restoration, lined up against the wall of her garage.  She’d already set aside the piece she called a “collector’s chest” for the brass label-holders on its five shallow drawers.  It was wearing a fresh coat of white over its age and its scars.  I didn’t like the way the new paint job flattened the details or the way the hardware had been sealed right over, but it was just the right size.

BEFORE (from the posting)

I noticed a couple of other pieces I’d seen on Craigslist, too: a zebra-striped vanity and a French Provincial coffee table that had seen better days.  “Yeah,” she said.  “I call that shabby sh*t.”

…I didn’t tell her what I planned to do to the chest.

After dinner I took out all the drawers and looked at the weird back.  It looks like tile on the inside.  It might be Masonite, but I can’t say for sure.  The apron on the front of the chest is made out of differently-finished wood than the details on the side panels; it has more knicks, pits, and layers of paint than any other part of the chest.  The routing along the edges isn’t quite the same anywhere.  I’m pretty sure that this piece of furniture was put together out of scraps by someone who knew how to be creative with what he (or she) had at hand.  He (or she) did a beautiful job, too: the chest has, let us say, seen a lot of wear but the drawers are all sturdy and glide easily on their wooden runners, and the body is strong and solid.

And then all that care and craftsmanship and unique detail was concealed under a gloppy coat of white latex paint.

The apron. You can see the strange pinkish tile-like fiberboard back, too.

I thought, “I’ll just SEE what happens if I sand it a little.”  And then I thought, “That apron is so over-painted and pitted — it’ll take forever to sand it — I’ll just try a little Citristrip.”  And then that worked so well that I put some on the top.  There was no going back, really.  After all, I had to the clean the whole thing anyway!

In the end, I’d scuffed up the brass label-holders and the edges of the drawers, to give the front some definition.  And I’d partially stripped the apron, revealing its layers of history.

I left the top roughly scraped, since the rest of the piece was certainly still imperfect.  I finished it with Annie Sloan’s dark wax while we watched an episode of Castle.  It was my first trial of the dark wax, and I loved it; it was so easy to work with, and it gave great depth of color and gentle sheen to the poor battered top surface.

I lined the drawers with floral paper.  Some previous owner apparently kept rocks in them!

I let it cure overnight, and put it in place in the morning — and by evening I’m writing about it!

Someone went to the trouble of tidying this chest up for me — and I stripped away the new fresh paint in favor of exposing the details and the age.  To each his own taste.

When I began sanding, I intended it to be a temporary measure.  Later, I thought, I’d refinish the whole piece.  But I’m so happy with the result that perhaps it will just stay this way.

Makes me wonder what I can do to B’s bedside table…



Linked to Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Feature Friday and to Addicts (not so) Anonymous Link Party at Addicted to Decorating and Thrifty Decor Chick’s April Before & After Party.

Furniture Feature Fridays

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Woods Walk

It’s not that we haven’t been busy here.  Oh, we’ve been busy.

But we’ve also been having a beautiful month, and Jackson and I are spending as much time as possible outside instead of in front of the computer.  We adopted him at the end of February last, and walking him twice daily last March was quite dreadful.  I’m so grateful for the early spring.  Come take a walk with us.

We'll start at the empty field at the far end of campus.

Jackson knows where we're going.

He waits for me when I can't keep up.

The sports equipment up here is so old that it has become picturesque. We stroll past the, er, cage thingy; the path into the woods is right behind it.


The woods trail cuts back along the field. Jackson walks several times the distance I do, because he has to keep circling back for me.


We take a right and head up the fire trail towards the water tower.

There it is, like a lampost in the woods. The entrance to dog-Narnia?

He's slowing down now.

Fallen logs and dwarf dandelions.

After a final bout of rabbit-chasing, Jackson is ready to go home. Fortunately, it's all downhill from here.

All pictures taken with my iPhone, using various apps and filters.

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