Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pinterest Project #24

I pinned this on Pinterest a couple of years ago.

I thought it looked cool.  I tried to follow thru and see how much it cost but it was a catalog link from overseas and was outdated.

Dead end.

Yet, the bases actually remind me of the brass Alter Candle-holders my mother has.  I remember my dad bringing them to her from Thailand when I was 5.  And I've watched my mother drag them all over the world, polishing them every year around Christmas.

My mother had a lot of brass. She did a lot of polishing.I thought she was crazy. I was never gonna have a bunch of stuff around that took that much work. No silver. No brass.

And for 26 years I meant it.

Until I saw these.  So I start thinking to myself if I can find some of those alter candle-holders, I could leave one as is with a large candle, and take a portion of the other out so its shorter and slap a brass tray on the top and fill it with candles.

Our new house has a great spot for that. And brass on that dark red brick floor....

So I began searching for a pair of them. Not such an easy task. They are over 40 years old. And a search on EB and a few other sites was a shocker.  Over $100 to get my hands on them. Plus shipping.

Hmm. Maybe I will keep looking.

One day I was wandering through an antique place in Central Texas looking for I don't remember what.... and out on the patio I find a pair of them!

In seriously bad shape. As in they have been sitting out in the rain. If you didn't know what they were you might not guess, because they were brown.
They were also $15 for the pair.  Of course I bought them.  I knew it was going to take some serious work to get them looking like they are supposed to.  But I knew their potential.
I could do this.

I also talked to the owners of this mall about brass cleaning products people use when they sell antiques. The lady was telling me all about a product she likes and has seen many people use.  The guy leaned over and said follow me, I will show you the finished product. We went to a booth and he showed me an old spittoon. He pointed out how the polished look was kinda scratchy looking. I didn't like it - and neither does he, which is why he showed me.
He pulled this stuff out of the back and showed me. Said it was the best in his opinion and that I would have to find it online. They didn't even carry it. So I snapped a picture and hit Amazon when I got home. Score! he also said it was expensive, but I disagree with that. The first clean up I used more than I normally would, sure, but otherwise I think its really close to Brasso. Not as bad as I was expecting at all.

I love this stuff. One of the best things about it is that since its not a liquid like Brasso, it doesn't leave the white build up in the etchings. You can get it all off. The build up is one of the things I didn't like about brass. It just doesn't look right.

Four months of work.  That's what it took - off and on - to get the candlesticks cleaned up. I went to bed with some cramped up hands and forearms more than one night.
It was worth it.

Even Hubs noticed right away when he came home and said he liked that.

 Of course I had to have the large candle special made. You can find some alter candles that will fit it in Catholic supply shops, but they are like $80 each. And only come in white. No thanks.  I found someone on the interwebs that made me the size I needed. Much cheaper...although shipping about doubles the price.

And so begins my new love affair with brass.

Never would have seen that one coming.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Whose Doll Is It Anyways??

I know, I much for getting back to writing. I am happy to say that I finally am over being sick. But Hubs was home for a short rotation so it was fast and furious getting things done around here. And now he's gone again.

So this story is actually from two rotations ago.

For Christmas, Mouses big brother gave her an American Girl Store Gift Certificate. Since there is a store in Dallas, which is only about two hours away, and we have family there, Hubs decided he needed to take her so she could spend it.  She was foaming at the mouth and had a list ready.....that she had compiled while perusing the online store.

I can promise you that neither Hubs nor I was thrilled about this. Especially with the child that can spend an hour (not kidding) in Claire's. I have already had the privilege of going to this massively overcrowded and stupidly expensive store, and Hubs has zero interests in dolls.

But off we went.

First, Mouse wanted her new American Girl Doll to have her ears pierced.  Wait...what? Get a dolls ears pierced? And pay money for it??? Both parents are horrified at the thought....but it wasn't our money so we marched upstairs to get in line.

And I do mean line. Like we stood in it for 20 minutes just to get to the front to tell them what we wanted.  See, it was done in the beauty salon. Not a people beauty salon you understand..... a DOLL beauty salon. And the sign informed us that the wait (after you get to the front of the line) was currently at two hours.

No. Way.  We were going to have to wait two hours for this???? Thankfully we found out that all we had to do was make it to the front of the line and they would do ear piercing immediately. No wait beyond that.

There is a God.

As we stand in line for foreverrrrrrrrrrr, we start people watching. Not like there is anything else to do. While waiting to get a DOLL'S ears pierced. There were 5 ladies behind the counter working away. I had to wonder what it was like for this to be your employment. "So, what do you do?"  Not that I'm saying there is anything wrong with this, beats fast food for sure.

There are posters up all over with the prices of the hairstyles. Different dolls had different choices depending on the hair type they have.The ladies clean the hair, trim it back into shape and then style the do you payed for.  And do they pay. This starts at about $20.  I don't pay $20 for Mouses haircuts, so this was a shock to Hubs and my system.  Are you kidding me???
                                                                     Standing in line.

After 10 minutes Hubs began to squirm. You could see that dazed look enter his eye. The trapped animal panic.

So you can imagine the kids around us started doing the same thing. Kids and guys....about the same patience level, right?

A couple of people up we noticed a very nicely dressed mom and her beautiful daughter. The girl looked to be about 4.  Mom was pushing a stroller with all her shopping bags hanging off it (and we were at the Dallas Galleria folks) and it looked like the girl was her only child with her. I wondered if the child still used the stroller...she was kinda too old for that....or whether mom just still used it as a shopping cart. It is handy like that if you are a power shopper and haven't given the stroller away yet.  Or maybe there is a younger sibling somewhere.

Anyway- mom gets to the poster, holding TWO dolls and asks the daughter which hair-do's she wants.

And the child? Not the least bit interested.  She had the trapped animal, bored out of my skull look that Hubs was wearing.  She was being very well behaved about the whole thing while she stood there, but there was no interest. She wouldn't even give mom an answer....just a lazy shrug of the shoulders.

Mom looked a little distressed.  So she turned around and decided what to get.  And I'm watching this whole thing play out and realize they really aren't there for the child.  They are there cause mom is going to spend $40-50 to fix these dolls hair.  And its not like the hair was very bad off to begin with.

That really puzzles me.  Why does a grown woman want to spend that kind of money to fix doll hair.  Why is it important enough to stand in a line for 20 minutes to deposit the dolls, and then wait another two hours for them to be done? Even supposing she has more money than she knows what to do with.  Is she just a crazy adult doll lover? Is it somehow a status thing? Something the moms compare at play dates? I would have liked to know because I find most people have REASONS for what they do, even when it looks crazy to us.

Hubs is really getting antsy now. He starts asking if we are done after this. Nope. Mouse has a list and we already found out what she wanted was out of stock so she was going to have to shop. She admits that there is something else but she doesn't have enough money. Dad volunteers to help her out.

Hah! Note to kids: take dad and make him stand in a line for a long time. Its financially beneficial.

About that time the couple in front of us had issues.  Here we have a family that looks middle class. Dad is in work coveralls that look like a construction worker. Mom is rather over weight and so is daughter. Daughter looks to be 10-11ish. This family is obviously here for the daughter. Mom shows her the poster when we are close and asks which style the girl wants.  She proceeds to pick out a style that does not go with her dolls hair type. Mom points out which section to chose from. The child starts throwing a two year old fit. It was ugly. And they get her settled down in a bit. Not a single word of warning or reprimand.

You have got to be kidding. We would have removed our kid from line and left. Who rewards over the top ugliness in a child that age???? Just wow.

Finally we make it to the head of the line and the ears are pierced in about 2 minutes and we move down stairs to finish up the gift card. Dad is past his limit at this point and just pushing to find something so we can leave. And to make a long story short -- Mouse ends up with about $50 in extra merchandise just so dad can  escape!


And brilliant.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stunned By Joy

In my favorite group of friends here in Texas, I am the old woman.

Its a little strange since for years and years I was always the youngest in any group.

But whatever. I earned every year.
Still, it was with great joy that I learned on of my friends sons was getting married. Not only because he was getting married...also because I was not going to be the first mother-in-law of the group.

Its the little things...

This also gave me the push needed to finish setting up my quilting room. I love saying that. I never thought I would have a dedicated space all my own to quilt and make a mess in. Because quilting is very messy.

After putting it all together, I was able to start on a quilt for a wedding gift. Timing was bad for going out and buying a bunch of material (Oh how I miss The Fabric Shop in Ohio) so I dug through my material bins and pattern notebook and came up with a scrap quilt \to use as a couch throw.  And I had everything I needed, including the batting to get it done. Of course I pushed it all the way to the last minute, but I did get it completed.

Sorry about the hazy shot...I didn't check the photos before wrapping it up so I don't have good shots of this quilt. Not smart.

This is called a Plus Quilt and is a free pattern I found on the internet by Jeni Baker at

The back is made up of scraps from the 11 Pony quilts I did. I swear I will never use up all the purple leftovers.  I normally wouldn't have used purples on a wedding quilt like this but plum was one of the wedding colors. I took advantage.
My bestie Rena did the signature block for me. She has the ultra cool embroidering machines.

 The binding is left over pieces of binding from other quilts. I don't throw much away. Material is too expensive to waste. This was cool because it was already cut and ironed in half, etc and I just had to join the pieces.
Not a good shot but you can't really see it from the front. The actual quilting I just stitched in the ditch around each plus sign.  I would usually do more quilting than that but I was running short on time.

And that was also quilt number 40.  Wow.

Now its time to get back to my list of other quilts I am making. No idea how long it will take me to get through my list.  Still have lots of friends I want to send one to because I love them!

Monday, January 27, 2014


My favorite part of the movie UP is how the dogs are always getting distracted by the possibility of squirrels. But its not as funny when it feels like your everyday life is like that. All day. Every day. I swear I can't complete a task without picking up four more right in the middle of it. And sometimes I finish something and lots of times I don't. Is this getting old? It feels more like loosing my mind.

On top of that Mouse and I have been rather sick. Of course its while Hubs is gone which makes it twice as bad. The day Mouse got sick I was relieved. I wasn't sure I could drive her to school. But we are on the mend.  I think. Every time I say that it seems we suffer a relapse.

Hubs has come and gone. He did get the rest of the boxes gone through if not unpacked -- and our claim has been turned in. Waiting for that first insulting offer. We turned in about $4500 in damages. I say the first offer is $500.

Hubs had his ulnar nerve surgery and is recovering. He has a lot of pain but has a little feeling returning to his hand. It can take up to a year before he knows how well the surgery actually worked.

Lots going on. House is mostly unpacked but we are working on rooms and all the little changes, etc. It feels like there are still a million things to work on. Because there are. Sometimes it leaves me feeling paralyzed. I try to remind myself how much we've already done. And it would help if I could complete a task without getting distracted by another.

But there is progress.

In Mouses bathroom they still had the builders grade brassy looking light fixture.  I abhor this look. Now wasn't the time to spend the money on it though as we upgraded in Songbirds bathroom. So I grabbed a can of spray paint that matches the colors in there and painted it.  I've never been real big on spray painting things but there is no way I could hate it more so I did it.
Its like a tan that picks up the tan in the new sink top and the throne. One of the glass globes broke so we had to replace those also. Its okay. Not great. But better than the gold.
The fixtures in Songbirds room are antique. They have these cool looking tassels (can't believe I said that). But the metal was not exactly rusting but discolored and oxidizing or something. Some of the pieces are cracked.  So, we were sad to have to replace them -- especially since the wall scones in the window seat match them.  I figured we could see what a coat of paint would do for them also -- we didn't have anything to lose.
Of course the ancient Bakelite holder in  the ceiling came out and now that has to be fixed before we can rehang it. Just requires crawling around in the attic, which is not a priority with the other lights in the room. Its on the list.
 Hubs one big request was to put up curtains in the living room. Well, that doesn't work with picture windows. And I hate curtains. Really. I do. So we talked to a decorating place and it was going to cost over $1000 for the cordless pleated shades that can be put all the way up.  My mother and my sister have both used and they recommend them. So I went online and found blackout shades in a mocha color that matches the trim exactly. When they are all the way up you don't even notice them. So Hubs is happy he can pull them down at night so people can't see in, and I am happy because you don't notice them when they are open and it doesn't spoil the wall of windows. Plus...all four of these plus two shades in Mouses room came out to just over $400 - good quality stuff. I highly recommend this company guys! One of the living room blinds had an internal defect and I got it replaced no problem. Plus they even have videos on how to measure to give them the measurements they need. It was simple.

Speaking of windows. There are full sized ones in all the bathrooms. This one is in Mouses room and made me to uncomfortable. So, Amazon to the rescue.
I bought that window cling stuff that makes it so you can't see in well but it lets all the light in. I did three of the four bathrooms. Songbird didn't want it in her bathroom, but I decided to go ahead and order some for it anyhow. It just makes me feel better. Don't know why.
The laundry room has been painted. It was a muddy tannish brown with raspberry trim. Not working for me. It is now a good grey color that Hubs picked out. Love it.
And did I mention the stove-top tragedy? We had the spices stored over the stove....and one fell and broke it. Horrified. The replacement cost for the glass top was in the $300 from the company, $500's at Sears and $250 with free shipping on Ebay.  Shop around people. Anyhow, it came in and the electrician came by and installed it for me. The spices are no longer over the stove. Turns out that is the most common reason for breakage of the glass stove tops.
Mouses room used to be a ladybug theme. Everything was pretty much black, red and white. Here she picked a blue and white.  This weekend was exceptionally nice so it was time to turn all that red and black stuff to white or blue. 
Two frames, two shelves and the stuffed animal basket all got the spray paint treatment. I have a white hand that Mouse says looks like mold. LOL. Now I need to change out the mats on a couple of her paintings so I can get everything hung in her room. Its still only half done.
I also did some carpet cleaning thanks to a puking dog (more socks) and cleaned the rug from Mouses room. The rug slips awful on the wood floor and I have tried several things without success. Yesterday I applied some safety backing to it. I need another tub. I'm hoping this works. 

And lastly...
We did some planting...or re-potting.  I only had one plant in the house so Mouse and I went and picked out a few for some of the rooms. She loved the succulents so I got her two for her bathroom. Plus I wanted a couple of hanging plants for the spa already had two ceiling hooks just begging for some ferns. 

I think that's more than enough sharing for one day. I know its long....but I had a whole month to make up for. I'm going to try and be better but no promises. Half the time I turn on the computer to sit down and do this and I get distracted and forget. No, not half the time...all the time.

Wish me luck.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Nightmare

Our moves never go smoothly. Its a rule.

But nothing, in over 40 years of my life...military moves with daddy, civilian moves with my parents, military moves with Hubs...NOTHING has ever been this bad.

Thanks to some new changes with the military contracts, you now can have several different companies handle your belongings.

In our case it was 3.

One to pack us up.

One that stored our stuff for a year.

One to deliver and unload.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster right?  Well it gets better. You see, the last company to touch it gets to pay for the damages.

To begin with I did not want my stuff now. I wanted to finish painting before our stuff arrived. So the whole thing already started with a strike against it.  And I told the company if they couldn't deliver before my husband left again I didn't want it. So they declined. I was happy. Then they called back and said they would do it.

And they actually tried to be very accommodating. The guy showed up at the warehouse to get our stuff on a Monday a week out from when Hubs leaves.  But they said they couldn't get to our stuff -- come back Wednesday.  He returned Wednesday and they had piled it in a big pile in a room with no lights and had no workers to help load. Come back Friday.  So he shows up Friday and there is still no help. So the driver decided he would load it himself. And they said go ahead. But then he wanted inventory to check it off as he was seeing broken items already and wanted to note that. They said no, just put it on.  He refused. And stood in front of them and called me to let me know he was trying to pick up my belongings but the warehouse was making problems and he could already see many broken items.

So they left him to figure it out himself.  And it took him 12 hours to get it all loaded and inventoried. And there were lots of phone calls flying.  And in the end the warehouse people would not sign the inventory because they said they didn't break anything.  So the driver said to call him when they were ready to sign and he would come move his truck. LOL. So they signed.

And our belongings showed up the day before Hubs left.  Exactly what we did not want. But hey, it wasn't the fault of the guy delivering.

It gets better.  Once the poor guy gets here and makes the calls to have unpackers meet him at our house he finds no one has any workers.  In November. The slowest month for moves.  Right. So the guy had to call a day labor company and hire two guys that had never done this before to come move my belongings.  I did warn the driver that my walls and floors were new and I would file for any damages.  Him and his son did all the furniture and heavy stuff to ensure there was no damage.  And I must say they were the best I've ever had for that. More points for this guy.

What should have been done by noon took until 8 pm.  Day labor cut off at 4:45.  Not that they were much help to begin with.

The inventory sheets were a complete mess. Usually you might have two different colored sticker sets - one for large items and one for boxed.  No. Not this time. Three different colors. And they started and stopped at odd places.  So I'm trying to mark off three different sheets as things are being unloaded. It was a major pain and slowed things down.

Almost every antique furniture piece has been destroyed. The china cabinet -- the fold down desk has collapsed inside.  The corner china cabinet they busted out the glass and the frame and broke the woodwork. A dresser is pulled apart. The drawers are all collapsing and you can see daylight. A super solid brass floor lamp looks like a pretzel.  No they tried to tie it in a knot.  Broken things. Destroyed art. Missing boxes...and one missing support bar for Mouses the whole thing is worthless.

                       (Chinese Folk Art watercolor painting brought back from China for Mouse)

Each box must be gone through slowly and the damage cataloged. I think I'm up to the 6th damage sheet now.  And I'm not even doing Hubs stuff.

Slowest unpacking job I've ever done.

Please God let it be the last.

So that's how I'm spending my days.  A box at a time. New damaged items every day.

And I know it will actually get worse.  When they offer me next to nothing for what we turn in.

I actually think we might have to get an attorney on this one.

What a way to say goodbye to the military.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Work Crew Number Two

After debate back and forth over exactly what to pay for on the walls, we finally got a crew in to tear down the paper from 4 bathrooms, 2 halls, kitchen and a bedroom. Then to repair the walls, texture/finish the walls and then paint. We threw in painting the living and dining rooms also. Big money, but it still leaves half the house to be painted.

They began in the back side of the house. Remember Mouses bathroom?

It had two layers of wallpaper and two holes behind the mirror. Even though it was the smallest room it held us up a day with the sheet rock repair. A guy spent three days in here.
Mouse picked a color called Spa. Its really nice and soothing...kind of beachy. Now all the yellow trim in the room stands out like crazy though. I didn't pay for the trim to be done so that is on me. But after painting her room to match, I was done.  Not sure if I fractured a finger or just messed up the joint, but painting was excruciating. Plus every time I tried somebody else decided they had better use for my time.

Remember Songbirds room?

The crazy wallpaper that made me call it quits and hire a crew.  Even the light switch covers and outlet covers had this stuff on it. And it did not want to come off.
They came in and finished stripping the paper and had it textured in no time.  For days I would just go in there to look and see what real walls looked like. I think all the unfinished drywall scarred me. LOL.
She picked a color called Seacap for the room and parsnip (a shade lighter) for the bathroom. Its a very very light seafoam green. Now the off white trim in the room looks pink next to it. Not good.
Next was the very yellow living/dining area. This only required paint.
Yellow is one of my least favorite colors. And this was really yellow. See those paint splotches on the wall? Some of you know that story. The rest can make something up.

The new paint looks yellow when I shoot it. That is pretty funny. Its actually more of a sand color.
We used that color pretty much in the rest of the house that they did for me. Its called toasted pinenut. With all that big wallpaper down the kitchen looks bigger.
I really got cussed for my bathroom. It was that foil paper. They ended up just cutting it off with utility knives in many places and then just fixing the walls. All four of the guys were in here for a full day. I don't have an after shot. I just had them paint this room a white to match the bedroom as I havent decided what I'm doing back there and it will be the last rooms I do.

This stuff was only real bad on the border. They put it up with an adhesive of some kind -- not the wall kind. The border had to be cut off the wall. Unbelievable.
The toasted pinenut looks really good with all the wood and brass in here. It was a very nice surprise.
Believe it or not, this was the worst room in the house. It had a wallpaper that really didn't bother me and I was going to leave it, but then I got to thinking that if I ever did want to change it I would have to go through this same thing with the unfinished drywall. Forget it. I decided to do this mess ONCE. When they tried pulling down this paper, it was plastered on.  As in, put on with plaster.  Total mystery as to why anyone would do that. They had to chip this paper off.

Again, this hall looks great now as it has all the same wood as the bathroom. Its much lighter than before also. I didn't realize how dark the area was before.

It took 8 working days to complete all the work. We did find some pock marks in the wall of the small bathroom which is old termite damage. The house had been treated per the paperwork and now I know where. That was all fixed. The drywall holes in the same bathroom were fixed. Otherwise no new surprises on this job.

Glad its all done. Sorry I didn't get the painting done I needed to before the movers came. Now forget it. I'm not painting around all our stuff. It can stay a mess until I can afford to pay someone else to do it.

There is fine white powder all over the place from having all the texturing done. Most of it was cleaned up before our stuff arrived...but I still find it when the heater has run at night.

Oh - and just like most things we try to do here...these guys were the THIRD company I called. The first two were off of Angie's List. Neither called back.  Angie's list is a waste of money. The phone book got the job done.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 25, 2013


One of the best parts of returning to Texas, is being able to celebrate the holidays with my friends. It just doesn't get any better than that.  And while many of you are thinking "duh", you have to understand that as a military brat and then military wife, I don't live anywhere long enough to have any roots and most friends forget about you the minute you leave town. Actually, most friends cut you off before you even leave.

How I ended up with 10 ladies that did not cut me off before OR after I left -- well, its a God thing.

Anyways....the Fabulous Zumba Queen opens up her home for an annual dinner with our guys. She has an amazing home that was built for entertaining and its awesome.  This was the first year Hubs and I were here to attend.

It was awesome.

My husband informs me that he had a great time hanging out around the fire after dinner with these guys. He only knew one of them before we went but has now been pulled kicking and screaming into the craziness that we are.
We are all very thankful that the Fabulous Zumba Queen and her handsome husband open their homes up for us. It is the perfect setting.
Everyone brought something to share and we had a huge feast. Tables were shoved together so we could all be in one spot.
Cool shot A -- you need to show me how to do this.

There were games to be played (team captains...serious competetors). There was talking and laughing and joking and just cutting loose.
Yes I was on the losing team. Even having the most competitive person in the room on our side did not save us this time.

And now they now have proof that the mysterious and elusize Hubs actually exists.

Great night friends! So thankful for all of you and the craziness that is our friendship...around life, kids, family and all the other things that we could let interfere.  Thankful you ladies are willing to carve out time in your crazy schedules as you can to make us what we are.You don't hardly find that anywhere anymore in our fast paced world.

As Steph would say....Nuzzle, nuzzle, neigh, neigh.