Thursday, October 13, 2016

Like chocolate and peanut butter

Anyone that has seen my dining room can attest to the fact that it not typical. It is filled with functioning sanders, drills, rolling carts, cans of paint and a compound mitre saw. A few weeks ago, under the guise of "cleaning", an old wood, wood box got stacked next to a slender window I was turning into a chalkboard. Screeeeeeech! A chocolate and peanut butter moment!

In my mind, by building up the base, framing the box, adding a crown and attaching some hinges I believe I am staring at the makings of a mini British phone booth. I never really built a cabinet before. I can embellish a ready-built, but to create something from scratch that has style and substance? This was not going to be your father's "Oldsmobuick."

If you've ever followed Catherine at Freddie and Petunia, now SHE CAN BUILD A CABINET.

After building a 2x4 base and attaching the old wood box (once used for firewood), I started cladding it with trim wood and lattice to make it look more substantial and give it surface when it was time to mount the door. My only expenses were 2 hinges and a magnet closure. About $6.00.

The only real challenge was how to build a believable arch that gave the illusion of a British phone box. I considered papier-mache` or chicken wiring a frame and applying fiberglass. That was a for sure "no", as "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' fiberglass." I ended up making a half circle with my potato salad bowl (I knew in high school a compass was never going to be useful in my life) and dug around in my "pail o' metal parts" for some semi matching "L" brackets.

After dampening some scrap Habitat wood that I bent, I brad nailed it with my Ryobi Air Strike. After using my "go-to" hole filler, Bondo, it was ready for sanding and an undercoat of my favorite brown paint....a quart of $2.00 HD OOOPS paint (already on hand). An elf must keep filling that can up because it never empties.

After scraping the black chalk board paint off the window, I measured strips of door screen trim and cut to act as muntins. My only goal was to have two of the horizontal muntins cover the shelves I would add to make it a book case.

I am not a Cricut or Silhouette owner so, my TELEPHONE letters are free handed. As my computer does not read my printer I had to take a picture of a Google image of the crown logo and then draw it on the wood. To give it texture I dropped pellets of Elmer's Glue on top of the design and when it dried painted and gilded it. (Yes, those are my little piggies. No polish-this is not the beach.)

Unfortunately, the first time I tried it, it was off center so I stripped and scraped and sanded and drew and painted again. This time I used a puff paint instead of the glue. Much better result and it dried faster and stiffer. I should have reversed the photos, but I am yawning and tonight is not my night. [Story involves a "VMW"* that had been running for less than 24 hours (now expired again), a dead raccoon, and 2 police cars]

I wish I had a really good photo of the finished book case filled with Harry Potter books, and a Quiddich broom leaning beside it, but it is what it is....a little idea that evolved when 2 foreign objects happened to touch.

Working on my staging room right now. Next posting will have a cleaner background.

People keep asking if this will become a Tardis? I say, "Them's that owns it, gets to name it." The new owner is keeping it "RED". WHO is the new owner? Not a doctor, that's who.

As ever,
La Verne

*A VMW is a VW with a BMW emblem.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Nationality Box

This discarded, old oak box with neither top nor bottom was given to me by my friend, Ken. [You are always in my prayers] He rescued it from the Mall of Potential Dreams, aka, the curb. 

Well, Grandson Liam just graduated from high school and is already playing college soccer. I had no bucks for a gift so this became "it". I call it The Nationality Box. A wooden flag representing his heritage would be created, nailed and painted to each side, and an old bi-fold door aging in the yard would become the flooring. Casters are attached on the bottom.

[These next photos are taken in his dorm room and filled with supplies that his mother gave him, not me.] 

We are a melting pot of nationalities in our family, so I started off with the most of what he is. British. He made a visit to his Nana and Grandad in Liverpool this June. As you can see it is not to scale and slivers of wood cut on angles are a cautionary tale while using a compound mitre saw. I can see how a thinking person would consider safety glasses and clamps to be a wise option. #*@^&+#

Ireland came next as an easy choice and our family's most celebrated country. For decades we've attended the parade together, and even named one of our characters after its patron saint. I made about a hundred flag pins for all to wear any time of year. If people stop and ask about them I dig through my purse or give them the one off of my green sweater.

The next choice was obvious, the German flag, BUT.... I was listening to a book on tape called The Lilac Girls as I worked on it. It is a fictionalized story of true events about the young Polish girls that were held captive at Ravensbruck during the Holocaust. The Reich would surgically implant all manner of rusty, disease ridden objects into these girls legs without antibiotics, and let them fester until their "project" was completed. These "rabbits" as they were referred to, ended up crippled, and/or killed at the shooting wall. I had already painted the yellow, red and black on the lath-boards and attached them to the box's opposite end.

I was conflicted. While modern day Germany does not resemble Germany during WWII, I could not say the book did not have an impact on me. The German flag had to go.

 The day the order was issued to eradicate the surviving "rabbits", The Swedish Red Cross, notified through secret letters written in urine, descended on the camp and loaded the girls into their truck and to safety. The girls later made their way to the United States for corrective surgery and counseling.

Happily, we are also Swedish! [Symbolically, I cut through the horizontal line of the German flag and added the vertical board to create the Swedish flag in blue and yellow.]

Which brings us to the GREATEST COUNTRY, the United States of America, that our ancestors, at tremendous sacrifices, chose to raise families and make this land our home. Our greatness is in our legacy, our children, who learn from their histories and make us proud.

As ever,
La Verne

PS [Disclaimer: No endorsement has been made in regards to the nation's highest office. Because of the un-relatability to any of the candidates' mettle, I may have to, on the day of election, resort to a stiff drink, and Eeny Meeny, Miney, Mo].

Sunday, June 5, 2016

For the love of lath

A few years ago when I was making the six week, daily trip to the hospital for radiation, I found out about a house in Cleveland Heights that was scheduled for the wrecker's ball in few days. The builder, needed to gut the mansion in a short time and build a much larger house on that and the neighboring lot.

People don't have large families any-more (except us), so why they would need a house larger than 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, with marble sinks and claw-foot tubs, a dumb-waiter, several formal rooms and a library, an oak paneled office, crystal chandeliers, a sweeping 3 story staircase and balcony, a mammoth kitchen with a butler's pantry, and wrap around sitting porches, was foreign to me. [In defense of the builder; he contacted several architectural salvage places who wanted him to pay for the removal of items that they in turn would sell for profit (?)]

I had only an afternoon in 87 degree temperature to salvage as much as I could, get it down 3 flights of stairs and into my van. While limping. From a meniscus tear. If I had a good video camera the scene could have made a great Survivor audition tape.

[Cleaned wood lath photo-borrowed from the internet. For my purposes, I clean as I go]

Among the items I salvaged were about a hundred board feet of wide, yellow pine baseboard and door trim, oak paneling, leaded windows, old brass hardware, hand built cabinets, curving handrails, and a mother-lode of plaster lath boards. People that are on game shows like Supermarket Grab would certainly question my strategy in choosing the items I did. I could almost hear ghost voices screaming, "head for the meat aisle". But I was only one, tired, charred, overheated woman, sans the proper tools that would make this adventure profitable.

In the end, I used a razor-blade to cut a continuous bias roping out of an old t-shirt, and tied all the lath into a bundle and lowered it down the center opening of the staircase. Even though the stairs would be in splinters in two days, I would not be the one to mar them by rolling it down. I collapsed in my van seat and poured sun heated water over my head and shirt and turned on my air-conditioning praying for an hour's worth of freon.

My body was too wounded to return for a final run the next day. I had to savor
my one-day winnings, knowing that my booty would be used sparingly. That old discarded wood meant more to me than a drawer full of sparkly things or shiny new wheels. I was in Wood Heaven.


Some of my recent projects: A gift, on a rainy day, from a sister of a friend of a friend. 

A little paint, some sanding, foam padding and some herringbone tweed fabric...

(awful lighting)

Now, two of the most comfortable seats in the house.


This almost Jacobean table was part of the rainy day plunder. I came home with beds and tables and chairs and so much more. It felt as though I were swimming in chocolate and my mouth was already full. But, when there's chocolate.... take it and eat; and like a squirrel, store the rest for later. This table has since taken up residence at niece Meredith's house. 


This is about the 6th table I've redone with this symmetry. I hesitated to buy it although it is specifically what I went to the Craigslist ad house for. There were toddlers in saggy diapers and I hoped that the funds would go for some replacements.

[Let me just say right here that the spell check program I am using contradicts my every other word choice. It wants me to spell neighbor as neighbour, savor as savour, color as colour. I fully expected it to encourage the use of nappies instead of diapers which it did not recognize at all. Perhaps it is the Canadian version.]

What a difference, the top photo was taken with a camera.  [note that is not just regular dust on the floor, but sawdust!] In the crummy cell phone photo, the dust barely shows but focus, tone and resolution are non-existent.

I love the blending of colors to get the right ageing effect. 



This wishing well is in process. I don't know what to do with it. It would be useful for a wedding or event, but seems over-large as to occupy a spot on a gift table. Even with the added wood lath, it is not improved.


No before photo. Just know it was peeling dark wood and missing wood trim. It is gussied up and awaiting a kids bedroom.


This tiny table has no before shot either. It just begged to come home with me, was light enough to carry, and forgiving of every color I added.


Which brings me to more lath. This piece was missing the glass top, so I cut some Habitat wood and bolstered the bottom, then sanded, painted and poly'd painted lath boards to make it the perfect accoutrement to a beach themed room.

I know. Too much. But you have to go where your heart is.


Update on our tiny niece Josie, who was born 3 years ago this August weighing 1# 9oz., and 8.5" long. Holding her here is brother, Luke.

And, NOW, Miss Josie is the rugged, poster girl for a healthy child. We are shouting out and celebrating all of our answered prayers! Josie is Meredith's niece.


I've loaded up on books on tape from the library. My saws are sharpened and batteries plugged in. Tomorrow starts my marathon "get back on the horse" mode. See you next week.

As ever,
La Verne

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Blessings out the wazoo

This past year has been pretty eventful-families moving back home, 4 babies were born, new careers started and others in limbo, and 2 off to college. The only place I've blogged is in my mind. It is finally time to plant some words and paste some pictures of where we've been and where we're headed.

The most joyous revelation has been the addition of our little peeps. A year ago Little Master Zayden entered the picture with his blue, blue eyes. 

Miss Lucy followed with blue eyes and dimples.

Then, the Presidential family added a Brown-eyed-girl, Miss McKinley.

This Mother's Day, 6 weeks early, Miss Lauren Grace appeared. When she opens her eyes we'll know which camp she's in. 

I was never a star-mathlete, but in the last 5 years we've upped our grandchildren number by 10. Not 10 in all, 10 more. All are treasured and welcomed.  I think for a while, we are going to rest on our Laurens!


A few days after Christmas, our good friend and Lucy's Grandpa John, left us suddenly to join her other Grandpa Howard on Grandchild-Skywatch duty. He is missed here terribly. 


Our Tommy just finished his first year in Ohio at the company store of education, Tri C, where all of us started our college. Thank God for community colleges everywhere that allow us to get our feet wet in higher learning and not break the bank.

Liam just prom-ed with Gina, and in a few months is off to Ashland University with a soccer scholarship. I still remember his October game where it snowed buckets (hopeandsalvage And the boys played on)

All of the other grandkids are excelling in their school-work and sport interests. Will show them in their spotlight as events occur.

Had to include this photo of Miss Kate, who in honor of her new cousin, dressed as President McKinley for a class narration. Those aren't woolybear caterpillars, they are yarn eyebrows.


[Disclosure: All of these photos are STOLEN from relatives cameras and FB posts. My newish non-flip phone takes crappy pictures (sorry, K&C) and I don't have a hook-up to download from Bethy's old camera, so have to use what is available/purloined]

Amidst the move-ins and move-outs I have done some furniture repurposing. I don't get how the dictionary does not recognize "repurposing" as a word yet. Here are a few samples....

My youngest son LOVES Volkswagens. LOVES....loves. I was given two of these side tables and turned one of them into a brand name night stand. A little detail with tape and a paintbrush produced this result.


My friend Ken found this little carved mirror on a curb and passed it on to me. It now looks like this. This photo was taken by my cell phone and I told you the resolution was crappy. The best camera I ever had was a Samsung so when I chose a phone I thought it would have the same resolution. BUT nooooo.


Initially looking at this Ken-find bench one would question..."Okay, dump or backyard potting bench?"

After a little TLC it found its way to my kitchen. You just have to remember NOT to sit on the edge. It has a teeter-totter effect.


My friend Mike discovered this piece in a hoarder's house. The top door was warped it had a musty smell to it. I first gave it a Clorox shower with a scrub brush and then sanded and cinnamonized the drawers. A coat of poly finished off the interior. I exposed some of the hidden color for a more industrial look.

Note: Before I hear from all the watchdogs out there who say "You already posted this a few months ago," I answer, "So what, I'm old and I like it."


My friend Bob discovered this buffet along with a matching ornate dining table, on the curb of a house where he went to service a refrigerator. If anyone is looking for a truly magnificent matching duo, contact me and I will perform some magic on them.


This is my brother Brian. In several states he is known as Byron. That is his birth name, and that is what I have always called him. Oh, and Uncle B, Uncle Bonneran, (not Uncle Buck). He is my 10 year younger. When a person is described as generous and would give you the shirt off their backs-this is a person that would give you his entire outfit AND pocket money to buy new underwear. He might ask that you find him a fig leaf until he gets himself a blanket though. His birthday is May 27th. He will be.....I'm not telling you that-then you will know how old I am. Have a great day B. [When he fishes, he even gives them back their life.]

It feels good to be back. Pray for the young ones having trouble finding their way. Too many funerals in the past week.

As ever,
La Verne