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Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Kitchen Update-and the quickest DIY chalkboard ever...

I have to be honest.

I wouldn't be painting chalkboard paint directly onto my kitchen cabinet if I had nice ones. But we inherited some old melamine cabinets that are peeling in spots as I write this, and since this big renovation is still months away, anything goes around this little old kitchen.
So.
Wanna see my latest spur-of the moment change in here?

I decided to make a quick, custom chalkboard to fit on the side of one of the cabinets because there wasn't any other space in my kitchen for it. 

No it wasn't ideal but my latest gallery wall took up a lot of wall space, so I was fine with it.
Here's a few Before shots:

This photo shows the side of the cabinet: wood putty covering a hole; tape showing the desired size

I wanted this project to be easy and quick so here's what I did:

After filing a hole and examining the surface area, I decided to save time; instead of buying wood and making my own chalkboard that would need to be mounted on the cabinet, I just taped out the measurements I wanted, bought a can of chalk paint from Home Depot and painted inside the lines.

Truthfully I had no idea how the paint would adhere to this slick, worn melamine. I went over it lightly with sand paper and crossed my fingers.

This was my Gulp moment.

A few coats later, I was feeling better. I used the brush for the first few coats. Then I used a roller for more uniform coats.
The one warning I have is to watch for drips because once they dry it's hard to sand them away without pulling the paint off.

I also quickly learned that the painter's tape I used for the boundaries could not be lifted without removing pieces of the paint. So I simply trimmed as much as I could but I wasn't too concerned since I would be covering these edges with a "frame."

Once the chalk painting was finished I was supposed to wait three days for it to completely 'cure' although I never wait that long. 
But I did "season" it.

This is an important step if you use chalkboard paint. Basically you take a piece of chalk and cover the entire chalkboard before writing one word.
If you don't take this last step, your first words will be forever sketched into the porous black surface. 

For the frame I bought 2 stock pine pieces from Home Depot for under $6.00 and cut them into four pieces using my miter saw.

After they were cut I rubbed in some Annie Sloan's soft wax  (in dark) because I happened to have some in the garage.

Then I used my nail gun and a level and basically connected all the sides, taking care to shoot small nails into the corners for added stability.

Once the four pieces were attached and my frame was done I began playing around with fonts.


I usually do my chalkboard letters free-hand, although there's lot's of tutorials out there if you want more direction. I basically google chalkboard images until I find one I like, and then I keep the image next to me when I'm writing.


and one last time....

I hope you found this little post helpful.
When I was googling chalkboard art I did see a couple of my past projects online, which was kinda nice. It was also a reminder that I've been playing around with chalk for awhile.



If you would like to see my chalkboard art on my previous kitchen island you can go HERE


Here's one of my Christmas projects...


And then I changed it for Fall. If you want to see this project on my previous mantel you can click on:
my latest chalkboard art for Fall

Thanks so much for visiting today.
So tell me.
Did I motivate you to pick up a piece of chalk and give it a try?




xo
Leslie

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change






September is National Yoga Month.

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I went through the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Program—-- although not a day goes by without me feeling the effects of this experience on my life.

 I realize now. It wasn’t only the yoga program itself that felt transformative, it was larger than that.

As a result of tackling something that felt profoundly scary and new to me—and completing it, I had ventured outside my fixed idea about myself.

Pema Chodron, the Buddhist nun and author, says we all scramble for security and we do this by clinging hard to fixed views on everything--- especially ourselves--because to let go brings discomfort.

Letting go of our cemented roles, our intense emotions about situations, and our unconscious story line means dealing with change and uncertainty. Even when we think we want change in our lives---it’s still stressful letting go of our comforting illusion that everything is under our control and happily static.

The truth is life is fluid and always changing.
We can face this honestly and learn how to let go or we can be in denial and resist it. As the Buddhists say, it's not life's cyclical changes that causes us pain, it's our resistance to it. When we cling to our youth, to our kids, to the way things 'used to be' that's what causes our suffering.

It's an interesting thought isn't it?

Years ago when I used to interview potential eating disorder patients, I would actively look for entrances and exits that had recently happened in their lives.

This was how I got a picture of their current stress level.

Births and deaths, marriage, separation, divorce, job loss or job change, relocation, leaving home for the first time. Becoming an empty nester.

These are all transitions that create a feeling of groundlessness in our lives; instead of that comfy, safe feeling we like, it feels like things are shifting underneath our feet and we feel vulnerable. This instability is stressful, whether the change is positive or negative, and I think it’s important to recognize this.

This is a way we can find compassion for ourselves when life feels overwhelming and we're longing for stability.


Chodron has a name for our dilemma; she calls this the fundamental ambiguity of being human.

As human beings, we’re all in the same boat. We crave stability in a world that is constantly changing. And some of us are better than others at adapting and tolerating newness in our lives, although generally the more uncomfortable we are with change, the more we will latch on to 'sameness.'

The more we need to feel in control.

So if you’re like me—a person who likes to feel in control and knowledgeable, signing up for a teacher training program as a beginner yogi with a fifty-six year old body and a bad back, well, are you getting the full picture here?

It’s a prescription for unpredictability and stress.

I still remember that first day sitting on the floor of the mirrored yoga studio. I had just recovered from a back sprain and I was gazing around the circle at my fellow students wondering what the heck I had got myself into---I was clearly the oldest person in the class---and as I listened to the introductions, I began to feel more out of place than ever.

 Little did I know how much my body--and my mind-- would change as a result of this decision. 



So today --in honor of this sentimental anniversary-I thought I would share a few things I learned from jumping head first into a commitment that made me deal with these three issues:

1.  On not being ready

      (“How can I do this?...It feels too soon”)



What I learned:

When I think of ‘readiness,’ I remember a conversation that happened when I was a graduate student. I remember it because it taught me a truth about life that I didn’t yet understand. I was always the good little student in school who did things in order. At that point I needed pieces of paper—diplomas, professional titles—to make me feel secure and confident. But one of the first tasks I had after I landed my dream job on an Eating Disorder Unit at a LA hospital, was to give a welcome speech and tour to a reception of prominent clinicians from around the area.

As a graduate student, I was terrified. These were all seasoned professionals in the field I aspired to---and I felt like an utter imposter. I was aware of being the only one in the room without a Master’s degree and this made me feel totally inadequate. The medical director—a gifted psychoanalyst- took me to lunch and listened to my fears explode all over our food, and then he quietly smiled and told me I’d be fine.

“Just pretend as if,” he instructed.

What? I was flabbergasted. But that’s not how I feel inside, I thought.

Wasn’t this being fake?

(Yes, I was that naïve and sincere)


It wasn’t until years later that I understood his advice; I now know there are times when you simply don’t feel ready for what you need to do. And so you do your best. I also know that too much trepidation can lead to “analysis-paralysis” and missed opportunities.

Is there some dream or goal you’re thinking about doing? My advice is that once you’ve done your proper homework, you might have to accept that emotionally you may never feel ‘perfectly’ ready. But there are times when the act of choosing Motion changes Emotion.



2. On being too intimidated

      (“Oh no—I can’t do this—it’s totally outside my comfort level”)



This is what I’ve learned:

I am not a seeker of scary experiences. Let me be clear about that. 

There’s no one that likes a comfy routine more than me. But one thing I’ve learned from relocating cites and selling our family home (2 years ago) in my fifties, is that big changes inject your life with a newfound energy. All of sudden you’re looking around with a pair of new eyes. You find yourself growing in unexpected ways simply because you’re outside your comfort zone and everything feels terribly new.
Suddenly anything seems possible.

But no, you don't have to move and be totally uprooted to have a similar feeling. I've found that change in baby steps is manageable.

Here’s one way to feel good about yourself. Introduce something new and positive to your life, but make it small. Just do it every day for a set period of time. Even a week is good. And finish it. 

The next thing you know, you’re walking around with a feeling of accomplishment about this one positive thing you’ve done. And suddenly, you’re seeing yourself differently and who knows what's next?

It's this openness to new experiences that keeps us growing.



3. On being too old

    (“This is a younger person’s world, I’m too old to do this”)



This is what I learned:

When I was sitting in that class on the first day of training I was excruciatingly aware of my age.  Although some of it is simple reality.

When I walk into a hot yoga class on any given day, I tend to be surrounded by mostly younger women. Some men too. Looking back now, I realize so much of my struggle during my teacher training period was clearly related to being the oldest person in the room--and how it made me feel. This was new to me. Adding to my self-consciousness was my lack of yoga experience and my recent injury which left me with a sore back and a cautiousness about certain poses.

Do you want to feel instantly old? Try walking around with bad back.
Oh--and then be totally clueless about the topic.

Pema Chodron writes about the way we erect labels and credentials around our self-image to feel secure:  it's like our armor. It helps us put solid ground under our feet in an ever shifting world. And when things start to fall apart, she tells us to look around. It’s usually when our fixed idea of “This is Me” is being challenged.

 I felt this happen to me in each class as I fumbled with memorizing and forgetting material that was foreign to me; suddenly I became aware of how my self-worth was tied up in my image of being good at something. Of feeling educated and knowledgeable. Here I was, a total beginner at something. And it didn't feel good.

So I learned a little more about being humbled.

But here’s something else I took away from the experience.





I recently turned 57 years old and I’m proud of it.
I feel blessed to have a strong body and a curious mind. Even thought I'm still reading Chodron's book, I know that this idea of living beautifully with uncertainty is not a pretty Pinterest worthy image. In fact it’s downright messy and uncomfortable and even painful at times.
It means dealing with loss. It means we have to accept that nothing stays the same which can be scary, and it means we must learn how to let go gracefully when it’s time.

Whether it’s our image of our self as a young, wrinkle-free woman that we need to adjust, or an image of our self with a certain job title, or whether it's stepping away from our adult kid and letting them struggle.

I'm still learning about letting go. But I really believe we get closer to discovering the essence of our inner beauty when we’re willing to shed our armor. 


What do you think?







Can you relate to this post?

xo

Monday, August 29, 2016

The quirky charm of vintage portraits


Well, I’m done.

This morning before I left for my yoga class--I finished shooting nails into the very last shelf and now it’s official; my matching bookshelves are finally done!
(Well almost, I still have some touch up paint but no more construction for now)
—Hallelujah!
I’ll have some pictures to share soon but today I decided to take a break and do something I haven’t done in a while...
grab my nice camera, take some pictures and do a fun post on a topic I love.

I've always had a thing for quirky, old portraits of interesting--even peculiar-- looking people. And everywhere I go I keep an eye out for them because I like the charm they inject into an otherwise serious space.

Especially when you put them next to a modern or industrial piece.

I found my latest oil portrait in a thrift store right under a pile of cheap frames and it was only a few bucks too.

(VERY rare for around here)

I recently had it in my upstairs bathroom, similar to this one:
Have you ever considered putting an oil portrait in your bathroom?
Well after several months I noticed some signs of water spots on the canvas, and even though I paid a whole $8.00 for my thrift store buddy, yesterday I moved him to my kitchen nook wall.


Do you have a gallery wall in your house?
Whenever I add something new to it I end up changing everything around. Sigh. It always takes longer than I think.
Here it is next to my giant (32 inch tall) metal letter E and my modern graphic print.



If you're like me and you like the idea of having a stodgy looking character from the past hanging on your wall, only you don't know how to begin, it's pretty simple.
OneKingsLane recently gave some design ideas that are helpful.
You can go bold with a large statement portrait (pricey though)--and in this case--that's all you need:

In my opinion, the reason it works so well in this room is because of the casual, airy vibe. And that striped animal rug---I want one!




I love this serious looking woman next to all the lush textiles and bold graphic print.
One stodgy man+lots of black and leather
=ultra cool, modern vibe.
Doesn't this lone vintage man add a retro, artistic feel to this bedroom? 

Or ,you can integrate your vintage portrait into a gallery wall like I did. 
Here's an idea I love, clustering similar themed pictures together--in this case ocean landscapes-- creates a cohesive look but that also takes more time and patience as you build your a collection.

Before I go here's a few portrait sources you might check out:

  • If you like portraits but are interested in a female, here's one source I found on Pinterest.
  • Believe it or not I haven't shopped for art on Ebay yet. But Emily Hendersen wrote THIS guide to buying art on Etsy you might find helpful.
  • The talented Emily Clark shared her favorite source for Lady portraits: HERE>

But in the meantime, when you're traveling through beautiful areas, don't forget to stop at random thrift stores...you might get lucky.


What are your favorite sources for art ?

xo
Leslie


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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My DIY Cottage-Style Fireplace Mantel.... Reveal!





Ahhhhhh..........
That my friends, is a deep, satisfying sigh you're hearing through your computer screen.
That's because today I'm checking off one of the time-consuming projects I've been working on this summer and I'm pretty happy with the end result.
My newly made mantel finally brings an end to the fireplace transformation in this house.


These pictures give you an glimpse of the 20 month process, showing you the original wall (top left), the red brick we uncovered beneath the drywall and added to, and the subsequent paint and design of the entire fifteen foot wall.

If you're new to this blog and you want to see Part One of this DIY mantel with some how-we-did-it pictures, you'll want to click HERE


Here's a picture after the plywood "boxes" were added (part 1)


If you remember the last post ended with:
  • the three plywood boxes built as the mantel base
  • the addition of 4x4 posts along both sides of the mantel.
  • the fir boards added on top
  •  and the installation of the wood remnant

Before we nailed the 4x4s I gave the plywood base and each of the 4x4s a quick coat of primer paint.

A quick word about the wood we used:
Even though I planned on painting the mantel ---because of the weathered remnant I was building it around, I decided to use basic  stock wood for the base, so its rougher look would blend better with the remnant once it was painted.
The 4x4s were run through the planer so they were smoother but still had the 'fence post' texture.
The top of the mantel was the only higher quality piece we used.

Once my Dad helped me with the basic structure and rebuilt and attached the wood remnant, our work together was done.  
At this point I was on my own.
After my parents returned home it was time for me to consider the final look of this mantel.

Even though I'd been collecting mantel ideas for this moment (on this Pinterest Board) it wasn't until I saw the wood remnant on  front, that I could finally get an idea of the kind of trim that would work.

I started at the bottom because I knew I wanted six inch trim there. So I bought an 8 inch (wide) pine board and ripped it to a full six inch.
Then came my first mistake.

I forgot to double check these first pieces with a level (until after I nailed them) and even though it was barely off center, I could hear my Dad's voice saying, "If you're gonna do, do-it right. You better pull that off."

Ugh.
I learned my lesson. No more forgetting to check my level.


After a few trips to the molding section of Ganahl lumber and Home Depot, and bringing home a few pieces of fancy molding, I realized that what this mantel needed was simplicity.

There was so much going on with the carved sea shells that every elaborate piece of molding I held up to it seemed to clash. I decided to keep it clean and simple looking.



I had to stop and get a picture of my first-ever 45-angle cut on my miter saw!
All done and ready to paint...woo hoo!!!

I was a bit nervous about how the old wood would 'take' the paint. And truthfully, it was also hard to say goodbye to the weathered finish that I love so much-- in another house I would happily have an entire mantel of this luscious distressed wood.



It just wouldn't work in this home, on this wall.


Gulp.
Good bye old wood, hello painted wood... I'm not sure I like you.

Ok. It took a few coats to penetrate the cracks.
Then more caulking and sanding between coats.

However once it was painted I wasn't completely happy.
After a lot of staring I realized what it was.
I just didn't like the amount of sheen from the semi-gloss.
So I went back to the BM store and picked up the satin finish in the Aura paint line. In case you're wondering the shade is Simply White. 


Call me crazy but I could tell the difference. Much better.
I'm also glad I used the stock wood because when you're next to it, there's a subtle 'imperfect' texture on the wood that's consistent throughout.



It's a fireplace mantel that could've been here for decades, simply painted a fresh coat of white.


BEFORE

DURING
AFTER
While I was at it, I decided to repaint the brick surround with white chalk paint, (so easy with a foam roller) although I still need to get around to painting the rest of the bricks inside the fireplace black.


Hooray....all done!!

In the meantime, my vertical plank project in our downstairs bedroom-soon-to-be-family-room is moving along.
I'll share more on this project soon.


The planks are all up and painted.


And now I'm working on my first bookshelves. (another gulp)

In the meantime... I thank you from the bottom of my heart for stopping by.
xo
Leslie

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