Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Just a mini-miracle

So, Alisa borrows Bethy's camera and takes it across the globe. Hungary and the Czech Republic.  I have a small assignment. Get the camera from Alisa at Saturday's birthday party, and give it to Bethy on Sunday when we put together the awesome gift baskets. Simple job, involves 20 miles MAX.

At Liam's district finals Saturday night, I LOSE THE CAMERA. It was cold, rainy, almost snowy, and I was dressed in my typical bag lady attire, accompanied by my cart filled with blankets, rain-wear, extra socks, gloves, plastic and hot chocolate. And, I thought, the camera that I stuffed in my purse.

At picture time, NO CAMERA. Looked under the bleachers with a flashlight. No camera. Back at the van. Nothing. The next day, scoured the house [Disclaimer: The area between the door and everywhere I would have walked]. Nada. Short of vacuum cleaning, searched every inch of the van. Nil.

I drove to Bay Village Stadium and pondered how I could break in. The gate was locked, but there was a bike and a trash can. If I climbed onto the bike and pushed myself up to the trash can-in one lunge I might make it over the top of the fence....or, be impaled on it. How exactly would a 911 call go? "Hi 911, I might need some help. When you drive through the Bay Stadium and see the Irish Green Sweater Blimp, that is not a dirigible, that would be me, looking for my daughter's camera. SOS (sweater)."

I heard some boys practicing on the soccer field and got their attention. "Hey boys, I wonder if you could help me? I'm looking for my daughter's camera!"  One boy immediately hollered back, " Was it RED?" "YES!" "My mom found it in the parking lot next to the handicapped space last night. I'll call her and have her bring it up." In less than 10 minutes, I was holding Bethy's camera again. Thank you to Bay Rocket's player's mom, Chris Myers, and the son she raised really well. [Bay won 2-0]

As ever, grateful
La Verne

Saturday, October 26, 2013

There was an old woman who lived in a...

...century house. She had so many grandchildren, she needed a more economic way of tending to their birthdays, than going to Target. [Oh, you thought this was a nursery rhyme?] Who really eats broth, whips their children, and doesn't serve bread with a meal? This is the old woman in real life.

Here are some 'round-the-clock' projects destined for grandkid's birthdays this weekend.

The first, was a child's kitchen that my friend, Ken, scooped off a curb. All working doors and drawers, the little right hand bin needed a hinge underneath. The two bottom cupboard doors had rubber band closures. Genius. First, I peeled off old wallpaper and scraped tar-paper off the counter. Then, set about cleaning and painting.

I sponged painted the top cupboards, installed beadboard for the back splash and cut some maple for a counter top. I still need to tone down the top. Too blue. I was thinking of giving it a little more height, so tomorrow, I may build some legs onto it.

I put in an LED tap light so Little Toots could have some surface light, and rigged up a light switch to operate the "burner". 

I re-built the bin and found the right hinge. It works perfect. I know it is sideways. Tomorrow is another day for fixing things.

I was going to recess the bowl for a sink and install a faucet but NO ROOM.


The next project was for a grandson who loves super heroes. His little chair kept breaking at dinner on Sunday, so a trip to Salvation Army the next day produced this sturdy little work horse. I painted it all red and made a stencil of the Superman logo. I printed off the logo from the internet and glued it to contact paper. Then used a razor and followed the lines. As each color dried, I would attach the next color and paint that. Finally, I sanded, glazed, outlined the logo, and poly'd it several times.

The "G" Man should like having meals in his Super Chair.


This next present probably does not look like a 'gift'. It is actually an old, well made drawer from the turn of the century, that was formerly part of a built-in dining room cabinet. I got it at ReStore for $2. 

This the grandson who just turned "1", and what he likes to do most of sit in any kind of box, basket or container. The drawer will be a 'toy box reading center', and maybe, even a good napping place.

I first put casters on and sanded the drawer well. I stripped the front and used a checkerboard stencil using all the colors of the fabric. After distressing and glazing, I gave it 3 coats of poly. The rest of the exterior, I painted my favorite go-to color. It matched the fabric I got for the lining. I used a 3M adhesive to adhere it and then cut foam which I blanketed in batting before sewing a casing for it. The fabric has old fashioned teddy bears.

The checkerboard lost something in the translation. Close-up, it is more appealing. The lining is a soft velour corduroy, great for diving in and rolling across the living room floor. 


The next 'gift' is a huge school cork board. [Another Ken find] This is for the Presidential family who just had a series of birthdays (and a bunch of promises from me). Mom-Meg is an elementary school teacher on leave with a new born, and Ryan remodeled their basement to look like a classroom. The item missing is a bulletin board.  Here it is fresh from the curb:

And, after some clean-up and a little color and stain:

I already put it to use.


My week in review:


These cute pumpkins I made from old fence posts which I cut, sanded, painted, sanded again, glazed and poly'd. I drilled a hole on top and hot glued a branch from a willow tree. It should have some corn stalk foliage on it, but.... They were easy to make. I should attribute it, but just know I saw it on a blog, (forgot who) and immediately set out to copy it. 

This was a really industrious week. READ: BUSY. I don't 'do' stairs, but somehow, I managed several sets of them this week. They take their toll. There is a saying, "The forwarder I go, the behinder I get." Right now, I am going to get my behinder in bed!

'night all
La Verne

Thursday, October 24, 2013

And the boys played on...

Last night I sat through an an amazing athletic performance. The Rocky River Boys Soccer Team played against an orange team in one of the post season games to get to state.  I won't name the team as they played an embarrassing game in both skill and sportsmanship. They were carded MANY times for pushing, and a RED card for spitting. In retrospect, hopefully they will mull over their play, and better themselves in the future.

When I left home loaded up with several blankets, plastic, and hazelnut hot chocolate, it was raining, but knew unless there was lightning, the game would go on. The temperature was a balmy 41, and I thought it warmer than the bitter 38 and windy at the previous Saturday game.

In the middle of the game it started snowing, a hard pitted snow that eventually lead to large pea-sized hail, and yet, the boys played on.

I wish I had known my camera was in my now soggy purse, because an actual photo would do the boys their true measure of justice. [I borrowed this from the net of a generic team (Amherst) and it will suffice until I get a true picture. I have many inquiries out for an existence of one]

There was a chorus of 50 or so, mostly seniors that stood in the bleachers the entire game and acted as the cheering section; even launching into Christmas Carols when the weather changed. The rest of the bleachers were well represented with parents, grandparents, and siblings.

The final score was 4-0, and the River team advances to play Bay Village on Saturday in the semi-finals. They will do great. The boys have a camaraderie of spirit and well practiced skills that have served them well. Although there are some standouts on the team, they share in the glory and pass to each other in what my 'novice-ness' would call the "little game".

I couldn't help but think that my husband would have been very proud and pleased to see the fine boy that our progeny produced. Liam Duncan-here's to you!

With love,
Grandma La Verne

Friday, October 18, 2013

A baby for Kathleen-It's about HOPE

This is a coffee table I've played around with for months. I would finish it, then use it as a work bench while waiting for paint to dry, and in the meantime, dribble some stain or paint on it, and it was back in rotation for another plan. The other day I received a party invitation, and suddenly, its destination was clear, and its "costume" was indelible. It is to be a door prize for a fundraiser in a few weeks, for our friend, Kat and her husband Stevan. They want to have a baby. After 8+ years of trying, their path so far has produced 3 attempts at artificial insemination and exhausted their savings. They are working with a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic for In Vitro Fertilization, (IVF) which is an elective, and not covered by insurance. The cost will be about twenty thousand dollars. 20 grand is the price of a fairly new vehicle, a down payment on a moderate house, the cost of some weddings, a year of college, a tiny life. Their doctor told them this is the last year they can be considered as candidates.

Kathleen's mother Pat (friend and neighbor), and I were pregnant at the same time, 37 years ago. My 4th, her 6th. We were putting an addition on our century home (built in 1824) at the end of winter, and the only way to see it was by way of a ladder. Naturally, being young and invincible, I virtually ran up the ladder to show its progress to a friend who had stopped by. As I stepped on the ladder to come down, the ladder slid in the snow. I grabbed for the gutters but my body weight shifted backwards, and I landed on my head and my spine. This was not good. I was 7 months pregnant.

Days later, when I was discharged from the hospital, knowing I was needed at home by my other children; I had double vision, a lanced hematoma, water on the knee, and a sick feeling in my heart that my carelessness had gravely harmed my child. I needed a nap. Just a little nap. My husband was already back to work and as I came down the stairs, the banisters were filled with a sticky substance....peanut butter and jelly. Koogle Peanut Butter and Jelly. So was the living room couch that I had just reupholstered. And, the bathroom faucets. I can still recall my sound, something akin to a primal scream. As I headed for the door, in walked Kat's mom, my savior. She hugged me, made me tea, gave me a wet cloth for my bleeding head, and scurried the kids around, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. She saved my life.


Forward ahead:  Kathleen actually found this table and a stash of other abandoned pieces. This is the progression of the table before I had an actual plan.  I guess one would call it "practicing".

The wood tone was its original color

I tried some Driftwood and Tumbleweed

An ooey, gooey mess with stripper

Measuring and marking it off

Then, doing a variation on theme

A corner view

Modified Union Jack Coffee Table


Families are everything. For most people, deciding to have one requires little effort. Then, there are those who would make the greatest parents, but due to unforeseen circumstances, settle for being an aunt and an uncle. Kat has the nurturing heart of her mother and could teach a child many things. She has spent her life trying to "save and preserve" things for a future child....Conneaut Lake Park, dolls she played with as a child, memories. This table is but a token of thanks for the many times Kathleen's family has enriched our lives.


This table will be raffled off two weeks from Sunday at the fundraiser. I will be making 250 gourmet cupcakes as well for sale at the Cupcakes of Hope table. Painting wood, painting cupcakes, painting hope.

The Rest of the Story:   
On May 6, 1976, I gave birth to a perfect, healthy baby girl. We named her Bethany, which means "Consecrated to God". Kathleen was born 7 weeks later. They are each others' oldest and dearest friend. 

As ever,
La Verne

This table has been linked to Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Feature Friday.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ohio to Pennsylvania; Colton's Subway Art Dresser

Every artist has a bag of tricks to beautify, hide, embellish, highlight and create, what every time should be a masterpiece. I pulled out every single sleight of hand on this project. The Colton Dresser is for a "just-turned-5-year-old". The piece is certainly several heads taller than he is.  His folks grew up in Pennsylvania and now reside near Cleveland. It was important to them that this heirloom dresser represent his interests, plus the legacy and culture that his parents will introduce to him as he ages.

The inspiration for this dresser came from a Subway Art Dresser I refinished for my son, Paddy. 

Colton's dresser was a hand-me-down, and had sat unused in his room for a some time, waiting for ideas, (and a little height on his part). I am tall and it reaches my head. It had a few dings, some sticker glue, a drawer with a misplaced runner, and a door that was swollen from moisture and not quite plumb. Unfortunately, I am not a carpenter, but I have tools, so people are easily fooled. When I got it, this is what it looked like.

Colton's mom had definite ideas about what would go on each drawer. She wanted me to use the Stealth Jet of Paddy's, but somehow incorporate his favorite color, green, hence the top, street name drawer.

Next, He LOVES milk.  I used the font from the "Got Milk" ads and modified a drawing and added texture on the glass so it would look as though it really contained milk.

Colton's dad and family are hunters, so the turkey, deer and bear tracks, was the next drawer.  I painted camouflage on it at first and was very proud of my work until I noticed I painted it on upside down. Strip and re-do, this time minus the camo.

 Notice the drawer track underneath with the animal tracks pointing down.

It needed to be simpler, because the entire dresser was like a Las Vegas marquee, Where to look first?

Colton is a big fan of Nintendo and the Super Mario Brothers, so those were the next two drawers. I wanted to use the original knobs and just pull a color that was used on the drawer front, and sometimes, I incorporated the knob into a letter of the word.  That involved some creative math. Just so you know, my hand is not as steady as it once was, (another strip and re-do) so Mario and Luigi are Modge Podge'd on.

Finally, the big blue B is the logo for Brunswick Schools. I chose the "B" over the actual mascot, The Blue Devils. Enough said.

Colton's first and middle name were to be painted on the side of the dresser so it could be seen first thing when walking in his room. His birth year is on the bottom.

Now for the door front.  [Excuse me while I #*&^%$+@*%!] This was a son of a gun.  Stacy wanted a map showing the distance between their Brunswick residence and the towns where the parents grew up. Originally, I was going to tea stain a map and call it good. But, it didn't seem right to put so much work into the rest of the dresser and skimp on the door. This was a major loss of sleep because when I go to bed with a conundrum, my eyes don't close, til a remedy in the form of a drawing is on paper. 

I knew I was going to paint the turnpikes between the two areas, and it just expanded. Next thing I was painting on magnetic primer by "you know who". It took an email and 2 calls to figure out why the magnets were not sticking to 8 coats of paint, when the company only said 3 were needed.  I polled some pretty knowledgeable bloggers who said, they don't like the product because it didn't work for them either.  I was already too far committed to back out. The can said, "Now, 3X stronger!" I couldn't imagine adding 2 top coats of another paint on top of it as my industrial strength magnets were not working the way it was. "Debbie" said, "Sand it down with 220# grit sandpaper til smooth and it would work." It was better, but not what I had hoped. Still, I diluted the top coat, sanded again, and then gave it some aging and sheen with Howard's Restor-a-Finish. I could not imagine stripping off 8 coats of primer. Well actually, I could, but you would have to medicate me. I'm getting ahead of myself. Before the top-coating....

I wasted about 40 sheets of paper printing off and enlarging the route between the two cities and painting the turnpike roads, along with the Three Rivers. I dare you to find a map that shows the roads and the rivers. I superimposed and virtually guessed where they should go. Yahoo and Google couldn't agree, and they have more diplomas than I do. I did a bit of free sketch on the rivers, too bad my camera is in the same tech group as my flip phone. I do love the way the black (R--------m calls it grey) shows through the green when I sanded again.  The secret is keep it smooth, use many coats, and STRONG magnets.

Before I could actually return the dresser, I had to put some effort into fixing the door so it would close. The frame was out of square, so first I pounded on it so it would know I meant business. Then I removed the door, used a pliers and vise grip to straighten the bottom hinge which was bent in, and then mortised the wood so the hinges would lay flat to each other. Naturally, I couldn't find my good, new, never used wood chisel, so I marked it with a pencil, razor blade and did what your father told you never to do, "work in a small, confined area with a jig saw." On high. Whoa, that thing has some power. I played religious music and asked the 'Big Carpenter" to guide my hand so I could do it in 'one take'. After sanding the crap out of every edge that would touch, and in a confident moment, screwed the door back on. Success.  Touch up painting everywhere, some more Howard's in any dull spot, plus my go to, Wipe on Poly. DONE.

This is the side of the dresser no one sees.  If I were looking to put more frosting on it, I would suggest painting a measuring rule on this side.

The magnets were pretty cool to work on. [Hmmm I think Ohio is upside down, is that significant?] Last St. Patrick's Day I made and painted little Irish flags on small pieces of wood, poly'd and pinned them. I used that same idea, but cut out logos that I found on the internet, sealed them and added magnets. The magnets can be moved anywhere on the door and perhaps, even to the right location.

[Side note: I had done 2 more magnets, one of the Steelers, and one of Heinz Field. They are no where to be found.]  A friend came over yesterday while I was working on them and picked up the Steelers magnet, and said, "You can throw this one away."  Everyone knows there is a deep rivalry between the Browns and our neighbors to the East, but purloin the magnets???? My house is almost 200 years old, maybe there is a Halloween ghost somewhere bent on "steeling" it.

*UPDATE* After an exhausting search-the magnets have been found. They were under a weight so the magnets would dry level. They have not been dusted for prints.

I am very happy to send Colton's Subway Art Dresser home. It was a pleasure creating it.

This post was linked to Miss Mustard Seed's furniture feature friday.

As ever,
La Verne
Minnesotan by birth, Ohioan by choice

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Where everybody knows your name

I'm often at our local Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. It has good and not so good memories for me. Last year, I was there with my sister, Therese, when I got a phone call that my lymph node biopsy was cancer-free. Good.  Another time, I was loading an old fireplace mantle into my van, stepped backwards over some wood, and snapped a meniscus. Not so good. Minutes before, on that same visit, a man at the loading dock said, "Hey, you're the "wood lady", do you want this pile here? It is too small to sell, and usually when you come here you get pieces of wood." Good. On another visit, a person who will remain un-named said, "Oh, "green sweater lady", I've been waiting for you to come in.  I found something I knew you would like and have been holding it for you." Great.

Being known as the "wood lady" and the "green sweater lady" is not exactly the same as knowing your name, but close enough for me. Growing up in a family of seven kids, I rarely was referred by my own name twice in a row.

When weeks go by and there is no post, it is certainly not because I have nothing to say (you wish). Nor is it that I have nothing to show/exhibit.  I'm merely handcuffed to a project and lose track of time and the world around me. Right now, it is 3:26 AM and I'm using an old bobby pin to extract myself from the cuff, and share some finished items, one of which is the item that was held for the "green sweater lady".

This piece I got on the River-Fairview line and it must have been in someone's attic for years because I could almost take a credit card and lightly scrape away the varnish. It is a stable end table. No loose joints.

I guess I would call this a mid century modern.  My daughter loves this but has NO PLACE to put it as many pieces I finish find their way into her house.  It's all relative.

I was not sure about this next end table. Another mid century modern from my friend Ken (I have to do a story on Ken, my friend with a compassionate heart). The top may have once had leather inlay, but only remnants were visible. The rest was sort of coated with a black finish with pink (professionally done pink) underneath.

The pottery is from my Mom's collection of Frankoma that I inherited/appropriated after she died.  When my Dad would go to Kentucky for work, he would always bring her home a piece of it. Since then, the factory has had a fire and all the molds were destroyed. I always smile whenever I see it.  So far, none of my siblings have fought me for it. Maybe they've tried, but I didn't recognize when they called my actual name.

I gave it some layers of creams and olive shades, and some grain striping, with poly coatings.

This little footstool was the piece that Melis somebody saved for me at ReStore.  It had carpet nailed to the top with some metal cleats. It may have been a kneeler or a shoeshine stool. It makes a good little footstool or seat for this little elf to park his patoot (it that a real word?) The richness of the oak came out with acetone and some vigorous scrubbing with steel wool.


I've been remiss in giving Josie updates.  She is thriving at 56 days and wearing real pajamas now. She's over #3, thanks to all your prayers. Look how big she is! And her color is so pink. She has a ways to go still, but in a much better comfort zone.


This coming week will have a Subway Art Dresser project that really kicked my patoot. Check it out, I will post it as soon as I finish the door on it. Here is a little preview....

As ever,
"What's her name"