Thursday, April 30, 2009

No One Told Me

Recently, a friend of mine gave me some advice on weight loss. Or at least weight loss motivation. She said, "Find a picture of when you were really skinny in high school and put in on your fridge. It's good motivation."

And since I'm up for any good advice, much less advice that will help me work off these last blasted five pounds that drive me crazy, I decided to pull out the old albums and find some motivation.

I first flipped through the early years. And came to a conclusion. I needed a spanking. 98.3% of all childhood pictures taken of me look like this. Slogan t-shirts, tiny body, big attitude. In the un-PC words of my great grandmother, "That kid is cruisin' for a bruisin'."

Then I moved on to middle school. No motivation here. Only a shriek of "SWEET HEAVENS LOOK AT THOSE AWFUL SHORTS" escaping past my lips. Oh yeah, and that's a scrunci in my hand.

Whew, middle school was a rough time for me. I'm pretty sure I had the good sense to rip the shoulder pads out of that flower rayon shirt, but it's still a no-go. I look like a member of the Dugger family. It was at this point in my trip down memory lane that I could only think one thing, "Why didn't someone tell me I looked like that!"

On to high school. Choir. Anyone in their right mind should know that a costume like that is social suicide. Again. No. One. Told. Me.

Moving on to prom. No motivation here. The lesson is: TAKE OFF YOUR HEELS FOR A PROM PICTURE WITH A SHORT DATE. Although, he was a really sweet guy.
Again. No. One. Told Me.

Whew. Now I'm perspiring. Look at the red lipstick. Look at the attitude. Gosh, I must have been such a treat to live with.

It is now official, I'm tiring of the photo tour. I'm tiring of walking down memory lane and finding a succession of poor makeup/hair/clothing choices. I mean.. look at the under wires in that dress. No one told me.

Ok, this picture isn't so bad. But just look at the stink-eye that guy is giving me.

In the end, I found no photo motivation. True enough, I weighed nothing back then, but it's all for naught if you factor in my striped shorts with boots and badly parted bangs. I cant believe no one told me. But then again, I probably wouldn't have listened anyway. I'll take my current fashion sense and my un-losable five pounds any day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flea Market Devotion

I go to a flea market or an antique mall at least once a week. Decorating your house with thrift items takes a lot of tenacity. And when I say tenacity I mean wading through booths filled with baskets of 8-tracks, banana clips, and stained early 80's furniture.

It means that my house is in a constant state of decoration, a constant state of flux. I'm always saying, "As soon as I find ______, this room will be finished." These things cant be found at Target or JC Penney or Pier One. It's torturous.

But every so often, once or twice a year, I find something that makes all those weekends of prowling through Burt Bacharach records and scratched laminate furniture all worth while. It's worth it when I find something like this.

A solid wooden hutch, scratched and worse for wear, for $20. And I immediately started giggling and clapping my hands when I thought of how it would look on top of this cabinet. I got so excited that I spilled a little of my Sonic peach tea on my jeans (Sonic peach teas are manditory for flea market trips... you gotta stay hydrated). And people stared as I giggled and juggled the peach tea and this giant hutch all the way to the front of the store. But I didnt care. I was giddy and drunk with success.

So it came home, got a good sanding and new coat of paint. And it became this.

What was once a cute cabinet now feels like an actual piece of furniture. And the view from my desk has improved considerably.

The extra books that couldn't fit on my other bookshelves came out of the dark closet and found a home.

As well as a few vintage planters.

I used the leftover paint that we used on the cabinet, an exterior paint from Lowe's (I think) called Woodlawn Charm. It's pretty hardy and doesn't chip or flake. But as with all exterior paints, you'll want to paint outside where the fumes don't get overwhelming.

And so I'm on the hook again. Once again recommitted to spending lunch hours in antique malls and prowling the neighborhood after work, searching for curb-side throwaways. Decorating this way isnt a race, as they say. It's a marathon.
PS.. If you like this color, check out Edie's kitchen makeover. One word... fantastic.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ava & Charlie, Part II

** Here's the second chapter to this story. I need a title! And for everyone that's waiting, I promise I'll post the flea market project tomorrow.

*picture of my grandmother, Mary Elizabeth, 1942

“You realize that pervert is liable to show up where I WORK.” I combed my dark curls with fury before applying a little lipstick. Saturdays called for a day off, lunch with my mother, followed by a quick return trip to take care of Betsy’s hangover.

Betsy was reclining in a beige nightie with an icepack on her head. Betsy doesn’t drink Shirley Temples like I do. She drinks enough Sloe Gin Fizz to work with the midget fire breathers at the Ringling Brother’s Circus.

“Oh who cares? And besides, he was so drunk he probably won’t even remember dancing with you. That man was blitzed.” She groaned a little and closed her eyes.

I pointed at her severely, “Glass houses.”

“Lighten up,” she slumped farther onto her narrow twin bed, “Just once you could pull that burr out from under you saddle and let loose a little.”

“And just once you might choose a quiet night at home as opposed to swinging from the chandelier. Goodness knows I’d like to skip dance night at the USO and get a good night’s sleep on the weekend, the only reason I go is to keep an eye on you.” I pursed my lips disapprovingly and examined the bruise I had acquired on my leg when I fell last night. Stupid soldier.

“And to get your neck licked,” Betsy muttered with a smirk.

I stood up pertly and patted my hat squarely on my head, “I’ll be back in two hours. Get some sleep. When I get home I’ll fix you a sandwich.”

“I’ll never eat again,” she groaned again as our door buzzed loudly. “Tell whoever it is to stop that ringing!”

I marched through our tiny apartment and yanked open the door.

It was at this moment, the exact millisecond that I laid eyes on the giant man looming in the doorway that a shriek ripped past my lips. I slammed the door so hard paint flakes drifted down from the ceiling as my shaking hands grabbed for the chain lock.

“It’s him!” I hissed at Betsy, who was now slinking out of bed in as much alarm as someone with a hangover could muster, “How did he find me? Call the police!”

“No, wait,” his southern drawl muffled through the door, “just let me explain. Don’t call the police; the MP’s just released me this morning.”

I glared at Betsy and pointed at her, “This is all your FAULT!”

She raised two hands innocently.

I didn’t need this. I was valedictorian of my graduating high school class, savings account holder and a Sunday school teacher. I was not in any mood to deal a giant beast of a man who seemed to mistake women’s necks for dessert trays.

“Listen,” he was apparently smooshing his face into the crack of the doorway, “I’m Charlie Fitzgerald, remember? I’m here to beg your forgiveness and make amends for my boorish behavior last night.”

“Oooh,” Betsy clapped her hands and gave a little squeal; “He sounds like Rhett Butler!”

I crossed my arms, “You've never been outside New York! You think every man from the south sounds like Rhett Butler!”

I could hear his feet shuffling uncomfortably in the hallway, “Could you open the door?”

“Absolutely not,” I shook my head empathically, “I can hear you just fine this way.”

“I dropped by Woolworth’s first thing this morning after I was released. But they said you weren’t working today, and gave me your address here.”

“You went to my place of WORK?” I stomped my foot for Betsy’s benefit.

“I didnt do anything to reflect badly on you, I promise."

“Sheeze Ava, the guy sounds sincere. Open the door, give him a chance to apologize correctly,” Betsy’s smile looked like there was a canary hiding behind it.

I took a deep breath and opened the door cautiously, gazing up at him until my neck would lean back no further on its hinges. He slouched in the doorway with one arm, gazing down on me with a big smile and a twinkle in his violet blue eyes. Not the drunk twinkle I’d seen last night, but the kind of twinkle that means loud jokes, inappropriate burping, and piggy back rides for nieces and nephews. And Betsy was right, he was fantastic looking.

I sidestepped him on my way to the stairwell, “I appreciate this gesture. But it’s entirely unnecessary; you could have easily just written me a note. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to meet my mother for lunch. Good day.”

“Great, I’ll go with you. I’m starving,” he strode easily beside me, matching five of my quick steps with one long one.

I opened my mouth to rebuff him, but he kept talking.

“I don’t usually drink that much. I’ve just been worried about where our unit is going, where we’ll end up, if I’ll make it home. And I’m not really sure what I did to your, um, neck. The details are a bit hazy, but I do apologize,” he drawled, his big hands shoved in his pockets.

I clip clopped down the stairs loudly, “It is most unnecessary for you to delve into the events of last night Mr. Fitzgerald. It’s probably best that you don’t remember it.”

He grinned, “I did remember how pretty you are.”

I placed a hand on my hip and turned to face him, “Mr. Fitzgerald…”

“Charlie,” he grinned down on me in total ease.

“Charlie,” I gazed at him in pure discomfort, “I do appreciate your apology, but you don’t really think this little performance is going to work, do you?

He smiled, “What performance?”

I rolled my eyes and began walking brisquly down the sidewalk, “The Sisters of Perpetual Sorrow’s House for Wayward Women is chock-full of unfortunate girls who bought into that “I could die tomorrow” soldier routine.”

He grinned wider, “Does that line really work? I’ll have to remember that.”

I curled my lip in disdain, staring straight ahead as he loomed beside me.

He chuckled again, completely unruffled, “Listen, I can tell you’re a nice girl. If I were planning something dastardly and off-color, it certainly wouldn’t be with a girl who reminds me of a no-nonsense librarian.”

I gritted my teeth.

“A very pretty, no nonsense librarian of course.”

I said nothing. My face was turning an angry shade of white as all the blood rushed from my head in frustration. I wanted to brush him away like an annoying fly buzzing in my ear. A giant mule-sized fly.

“Anyway, I’ll come with you. I’d like to meet your mother.”

I turned and walked angrily down the subway stairs, “You have no idea what you’re saying. My mother will eat you alive.”

“Nah, mamas love me,” he drawled.

And for the first time that morning, I couldn’t help but smile.

“Not my mother.”

Monday, April 27, 2009

Vintage Map vs Pillow Mint

The front door is painted. Ignore that little piece of painter's tape there.

The plan laid out something like this. Firstly, I know I said that Matt was horrified by the color turquoise. But we agreed that I'd try a 'lighter' shade of aqua and if he hated it, we'd change it stat. I missed my calling. I should have been a lawyer.
So as I perused the paint chips on Saturday (elbowing my way through a thousand other weekend DIY'ers), I fell in love with the Martha Stewart section at Lowes. Big shocker. The color I snatched up was called Vintage Map.

But after waiting 20 minutes in a million mile long paint request line, the nice salesman informed me that I could not get a quart of paint in a specialty color. So I huffed back to the the general Valspar section, matched the color as best I could with a paint chip called Pillow Mint, and then waited another 20 minutes.

In the end, I couldn't tell very much of a difference between Vintage Map and Pillow Mint. Take that Martha Stewart and your $35 per gallon paint cans. I like it. I think. It's a tad Easter Egg, but then again, so is most of my house. I love that vintage/aqua color. And Matt "doesnt hate it." Good enough for me.

Matt changed out the mailbox.

I planted more caladium bulbs.

We picked a new light fixture.

Now the only project we have left is replacing the ugly black storm door. Whew. But we're too tired. That will have to wait another few months. Or a year. We take our time here at Mabel's House.

And in the middle of all our porch-makeover mayhem, I squeezed in a flea market project that I'll show you later this week. Did I mention I can barely move my arms this morning? Seriously. It hurts to type.
** FYI, I'll be posting a new chapter of last week's story tomorrow.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Night

Getting a little dressed up.

Wearing the necklace Matt had made especially for me.

Going out on the town.

Having a little sushi.
It's officially a great weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Evening Garden

Last spring I spent most of the week waiting for Saturdays. I waited patiently for five days until the time came to play in the dirt, work in the yard, and listen to the mocking birds. But this spring, I've been taking advantage of the longer evenings. I don't want to wait for Saturday.

So after dinner I go to the patio. I've washed off the chairs, sprayed the climbing roses, bought bags of soil, planted bulbs and seeds. We propped some of the bigger planters up on bricks to help with drainage (the heavy spring rains seem to be trying to drown the plants).

But I like getting something done midweek. Why should Saturdays get all the fun?

I planted a lot of these little caladium bulbs. Red and green. I hope they grow. And fast. My empty pots look sad.

And in celebration of spring and all the little birds chirping above the house, I brought this poor little orphan home. It's a McCoy, but since the little birdie's beak and tail were broken off it was only $10. Even though he's half the bird he once was, I saw no reason for him to miss this beautiful springtime neglected on a flea market shelf.

I also spray painted some things. Because these evening garden sessions wouldn't be half as fun without a little spray paint. Gee... doesn't that turquoise color look nice against the yellow brick of the house? Wouldn't it look nice on, say, a door? Cough. Cough.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What the April Sun Has Taught Me

It's taught me this: If I have enough body shimmer lotion, the bright April sun over head, and my ashen never-go-outside complexion... I can outsparkle any vampire.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Paint Decisions & Story Plans

I've been on the hunt for a paint color for the front door. We nixed the possibility of red mostly because it seems everyone in our neighborhood has a red door. But you know how I love red. Matt nixed the possibility of a turquoise door because, well, it just sends cold shivers down his spine. Normally, I would forge ahead and do it anyway, but "Poor Matt" (as he's become known in blog land) rarely has a strong opinion. So, no turquoise.

We met in the middle and agreed on green. In my mind I envisioned a cheerful Kelly green with just a hint of yellow. Not too dark, not too neon.

Actually finding this elusive green is a much harder fete. Everything is too pale, too yellow, too avocado. The color that I was almost positive I wanted in the store turned out to look, well, like something from That 70's Show.

Anyone have any good advice? Know of a great green? I'm open to all suggestions.

And on a side note, thank you so much to those kind souls who not only plowed through my post yesterday but left a kind compliment. Don't worry, I wont leave you hanging. I have every intention of finishing the story, bit by bit, right here for you to read. One woman posed the question, "Don't you want to save this for a book?" And she was so sweet to think it but I must reply no, for several reasons.

1. Posting it here will make me finish it.

2. I don't have to worry about word counts, chapter length, or how many agents will reject it.

3. I can post pictures to go along with the story, which I love. I've always said that the day they make picture books for adults, I'll be the first one in line.

So thanks again. I'll be thinking of a title and post the next 'chapter' next Monday or Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ava & Charlie

The problem with me is I'm a 'skipper.' When I write my mind skips from one project to another, and I'm always at risk of never finishing anything. So, in an attempt to make myself finish something, I've decided to post a story here. Little by little, bit by bit. Now the only trick will be getting people to read it. Hope you enjoy. Or at least don't fall asleep.

Part 1

“I’m on furlough for two weeks and may not come back alive. And you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Let’s get married.”

Those were the very first words Charlie ever spoke to me, slurring a little beneath the dim lights of the USO dance floor. And then he leaned in and licked my neck like a frozen Popsicle. I slapped this forward, tipsy soldier who I hadn’t known for more ten minutes. I slapped him across his square jaw line so hard a little spittle flew out and into the face of a marine dancing right next to us. The marine, of course, mistook the spittle for an insult, and slugged Charlie in the face, knocking me onto the ground in the process.

Lying there, sprawled on the ground with my garter belts showing, was a completely out of body, out of character experience for me. I’m a buttoned up kind of girl, with carefully curled brunette hair, a strict bedtime schedule and short legs that walk so fast my roommate Betsy says I could generate all the electricity needed to power the lights on Times Square. I work at the glove counter at Woolworth’s, live in a walk-up over an air shaft, and the most adventurous thing I do on the weekends is sip Shirley Temples while Betsy flirts with soldiers. So as you can see, this particular night was not par for my course.

My brand new blue velvet hat shifted askew on top of my head as I rolled to the side, avoiding the scuffle taking place between my neck licking soldier and the spit-upon fist swinger.

“BETSY!” I shrieked as I tried to modestly get up, holding my skirt down and gripping a nearby sailor’s hand as I attempted to get up off the dance floor with some amount of decorum.

Charlie, in his liquored state, glanced down at me and my disheveled appearance and yelped at the fighting marine, “That’s my future wife you just knocked down!” And with that he socked the poor marine so hard the man spun completely around and crumpled onto the floor. Drunk or not, Charlie packed a punch.

“I love you!” he yelled at my retreating figure.

“BETSY!” I screamed louder, desperate to get away. Desperate to reclaim the dignity and prudence I’d worked my whole life to achieve. But mostly, I was afraid he might try that neck licking act again.

The sharp shriek of the MP’s whistles cut across the dance floor, bringing the band’s romantic rendition of Night & Day to a screeching halt.

“Good,” I thought, “they’ll arrest that crazy man.” I turned to make sure, to smirk and feel that a bit of my honor was being reclaimed as they slapped a pair of handcuffs on him.

And they did, two MP’s grabbed his arms. He dwarfed them standing at 6’5, dark hair, huge shoulders. And he never stopped calling after me, “What’s your name? I need to know so we can get married!”

Betsy appeared at my side and took my elbow, her bright blond hair glowing under the dance floor lights as she grinned, “Looks like you had some fun, ‘bout time!”

“I may never forgive you for this,” I gritted my teeth, shielding my face with my hand; suddenly aware that everyone was staring at him, and then back at me. Their heads whipping back and forth, back and forth between us, like a tennis match.

“Let’s get out of here!” I gripped my purse and turned for the exit.

“What’s your name? I love you!” he called after me.

Betsy pulled at my arm, “Hold up, he’s fantastic looking!”

“Are you crazy? He’s a lecherous drunk. I won’t even tell you what he did to my neck! Never mind, you’d probably like it. Let’s go!”

But Betsy, the girl from Brooklyn who had officially dated half of the US Navy to ‘boost war time moral’, turn-coat and traitor to our friendship, yelled back, “Her name is Ava Smith! She works at Woolworth's!”

“I hate you!” I yelled at her and began to run for the door.

“I’m Charlie Fitzgerald and I love you Ava Smith!” he called after me. I could tell by the very tone of his voice he was grinning. Stupid soldier.

And we were married three days later. It’s a long story.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Writing, Still

I'm not sure why, but I've started writing by hand. It makes no sense, since stories can be typed & edited so much more quickly on my computer. Not to mention the fact that my hand keeps cramping up and I have to flex my fingers every five minutes. But I'm finding a lot of enjoyment sitting in the reading chair, scrawling out ideas in a notebook, drawing swirly sea weed designs in the margins.

And for some reason, on a completely unrelated topic, I've got an overwhelming (and slightly insane) urge to spray paint that floor lamp in a high gloss orange. Spring fever is apparently in full swing around here.
Anyway, just wanted to check in. I'm still here. Hi.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Unicorn Doo Doo Head Dog Sniffer

When I call myself a writer, I use the term loosely. My only book is self published online with Lulu... and I don't even charge people to download it. It's not great, it's not bad either. But, I do write. And sometimes, when I'm out in public I eavesdrop and think, "Oh my gosh, I've got to write this down. I can so use this!" Which is why after overhearing this conversation at the local Kroger, I whipped my buggy around the corner on two wheels, scrounged for a pen in my purse and wrote this down on a Chili's takeout menu.

Picture this. There are two children climbing all over a buggy in the cookie section. Their mother is completely engrossed in the calorie counter on the back of a Pepperidge Farms package. The boy is tall and skinny with red hair, around 8. His little sister is tiny and blond, around 6. Their conversation went like this.

Brother, "I cant wait to get our new puppy tomorrow!"

Sister, "I dreamed about him... I think he's gonna have a long tail."

Brother, "Yeah, and we're gonna name him C3PO."

Sister, frowning angrily, head shaking, "NO, we're not. We're going to name him Hannah Montana."

Brother, "That's stupid! You cant give a boy dog a girl's name. We'll name him C3PO, or maybe Luke Skywalker."

Sister, shrieking (mother still reading cookie package), "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Stupid!"

Brother, "Dumb girl face!"

Sister, "Butt head!"
Mom, "Guys... knock it off!"

Brother, "Silly scaredy cat cry baby!"

Get ready for it...


My hat is off to that little girl. In all my years of warring with my sisters, I was never able to come up with an insult quite that masterful. I'm filing that way for the next time someone calls me a Silly Scaredy Cat Cry Baby. It happens more often than you think.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend

I went shopping with my sister & (one of) her best friends this Saturday. I couldn't be more proud of these girls. They're smart, funny, loyal, and best of all... they love house decor and flea markets as much as I do.

Most people cant keep pace with me in stores like this. Not that I'm bragging. But most people have a 30 minute shop time for home decor, and then they glaze over and say, "Hey, let's go to the mall, there's a shoe sale." And I then I hiss in disdain. OK. No I don't, but inside I make a mental note to never 'decor shop' with them again.

So that's why shopping with Becca & Rachel is such a treat. They meticulously went through each room of this store, picking up every object, critiquing every price tag, day dreaming about where they could put this antique wine container in their dorm room. I could feel my heart swell with pride.

I adore this store. It's become one of my favorite places to visit, although ironically I've never spent a cent there. It's all so very European/Farmhouse/Chic, which is so not my style. Don't get me wrong, I love it. I just don't know what to do with it in my own home. So instead I just wonder around sipping coffee, happy, wishing I could just move in and live there.

See, they even have food I could eat. Oh wait, I did buy something here. Bread & Butter pickles. Yum.

This store has terrariums, old trophies, farmhouse tables, rosemary candles, and bars of soap that smell like milk & almonds. A little bit of heaven on earth.

And then there's this gigantic bird cage. It's gorgeous, but a little unnerving at the same time. I mean... how big does a bird have to be to warrant a cage of this size? All in all, it was a fabulous Easter Weekend. Thanks for the super fun shopping trip girls. Love you both!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Exercising, Dork-Style

Confession time.

It has come to this.

Running on a trampoline and listening to my iPod.

Dork City right here.