Saturday, November 29, 2014

How To Recover A Chair With A Shoestring

I recovered a chair for my son's apartment a few months ago and I'm eager to show you the before and after photos.

This was the chair that we've had in our bedroom for at least 20 years.  My father in law originally got it from one of his older neighbors.  It was very sturdy, but very out dated and stained - and pink.


I took the cushions off of the chair and removed all of the old fabric.  The cushions were still in good shape.  Then I spray painted the frame with Oil Rubbed Bronze paint.  After that, I stapled the new fabric (left over from a previous project) onto the cushion forms.

 I needed to cover up some of the staples on the back of the chair but I didn't want to purchase anything.  Thankfully, I always save extra strings, ribbons, and trim.  Out of my basket of trim, came a wide brown shoe lace.  Perfect!


Not bad for using supplies I already had on hand.

I made a pillow to go with it - again, using extra fabric, trim, and pillow stuffing.  The cross pieces are made from a khaki colored belt.

My son appreciates the extra seating in his living room and was happy that I didn't make the chair too "girly".

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Our Remodeled Utility Room Is Finally Done!

Our utility room is finally finished and I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out.

We hired a contractor to remodel our kitchen last year but our budget just couldn't be stretched enough to work on the connecting utility room.

When asked what I wanted for Christmas last year, I asked if we could work on the utility room/pantry this year.  Poor Hubs, I think he would have rather purchased a gift from the mall.  Even with a very limited budget and schedule, we worked on it steadily all year and just finished last week. It took several months of planning to figure out the layout but my Hubs is a genius and is very good at space planning.  He was so sweet to carefully consider all of my storage needs.  He measured all of my containers to make sure everything would fit.

Some of the walls and all of the cabinets and the ceiling were torn out during our kitchen demo.  We hobbled along with our little torn up utility room for almost a year.  It was  already an awkward, narrow space with two doors and a hot water heater.  The lighting was poor, the walls were a mess, there was a lack of storage, and our electrical panel was smack dab in the middle of one of the usable walls.

We purchased a stacking washer/dryer set when we bought our kitchen appliances to take advantage of a great sale.  Parts of our old set were literally held together with a paperclip and some duct tape.  We also bought a larger deep freeze to replace our smaller one.

Hubs built a wall in sections to separate the long, skinny room into two spaces.  The space with the hot water heater has become a closet that holds our vacuum cleaner, cleaning supplies, and the high chair we use for our grandchildren.

There was a lot of staring, discussing, and mumbling in that odd space.  I think it taxed Hub's brain to the max.  Plumbing and wiring is never fun.

Our ceiling was a drop ceiling with florescent lighting hanging within it.  Broken, stained, and pathetic - it needed to go.

The old lighting was certainly not flattering.  We had the electricians add an additional light switch to the room when they rewired our kitchen, but Hubs did the actual addition of the new lights.

Our new ceiling is made of bead board panels that can be removed, if needed, to get to the plumbing pipes.  The lighting is just small recessed lights (4 in total).  The hanging system hanging over the freezer is from Ikea.  I wanted something to hide the large, black dryer outlet.

With the old cabinets removed, all of the many paint colors were exposed - I'm only responsible for 2 of the colors and yellow isn't one of them.  The black rectangle is the electrical panel that I previously painted with chalkboard paint.

Our son was able to help with the heavy lifting.  Hubs built each shelf unit separately and added them one at a time.

After everything was painted and a counter top was added, it was starting to look like what we had imagined it could be.

I used baskets that I already had to store paper products and extra food.  The chicken picture was a painting my mother-in-law painted many years ago.  She passed away and never finished it (notice there is only half a chicken?).  I'm looking for a piece of chicken wire or basket to place under the chicken to finish it off.  The picture is attached to a bead board panel that can removed to reveal the electrical panel.

The right side of the washer dryer is the spot for the deep freeze and lots of shelving.  I wanted to have shallow shelving for my jars of baking supplies and dry goods.

I already had a lot of large jars, but I added a few more that I picked up at Walmart and World Market.

The two sets of shallow shelves took forever to paint but I love all of the storage.

I made chalkboard labels by cutting ovals out of chalkboard contact paper.  I used a chalk/bistro marker to write the ingredients on each label.  So far, they are holding up pretty well.

Now, I actually look forward to doing laundry!  This is the best Christmas present ever!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Tidy Brown Wren Shop

 I've been busy preparing for a Tidy Brown Wren Open House this coming Saturday, November 15th.  

After all, what's a mom to do when her last child moves out of the apartment over the garage?  It's too great of a space to just leave empty.  Want a sneak peak?

 Lots of treasures that are upcycled, recycled, vintage, or just plain cool.

The shop will be open from 9:00 until 5:00.  Stop by and enjoy some delicious goodies and do some Christmas shopping.   Email me at for directions.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Keeping It All Together During A Hectic Season In Life

I almost forgot how to blog.  It's true - it's been so long since I wrote a blog post that I had to putter around to find my way again.  

In reality, I've been blogging in my head.  I really have.  I've been talking to you and showing you things around The Wren.  Projects we've worked on. . . food I've cooked. . . crafts I've made. . . and of course, the grandchildren that won't stop growing.  But of course, if I don't put my fingers to the keyboard and download some photos, then you have no idea what's going on.  

During the past year, my jobs have taken up a lot of my time and attention.  Most of my attention, actually.  The problem?  I had too many jobs.  I was teaching preschool, running the preschool ministry at our church, staging homes for Realtors, and helping clients with organizing their homes.  

Something had to give.  I felt the Lord was telling me it was time to give up teaching.  I argued with him for awhile.  I knew I needed to obey, but I didn't want to.  My penchant for uber multitasking was causing me to disobey my Lord.  I offered to give up every other job.  I offered to cut back my hours.  That wasn't his plan.   

"Yes, Lord", I finally said.  "Not my will, but yours".  

It really was freeing.  I can't explain it except that when you know you're obeying God, nothing else seems to be a big deal.  I didn't even cry on the last day of school.  And let me tell you, I've ugly cried  last-day-of-school tears every year for many years.  This year - nothing.  

As I looked back on the past year, I was wondering how I made it though the hectic-ness of it all.  How did my house not fall apart?  How did we manage to keep our bodies healthy?  How did we work on anything or help anybody during this crunch time?

So here are some of my personal tips for handling a hectic season (God ordained or self imposed).

1.  It pays to have an organized home.  Sure I am a professional organizer, but I'm not a perfect housekeeper.  One thing going for us is that everything in our home has a place where it lives.  If it doesn't have a place, then it can't stay.  I have a covered basket in my foyer where I put items that need to be donated.  When it's full, I take the items to the thrift store.

2.  Make sure your priorities are in the right order.  If my time with God and reading his word is compromised, I have to give up something.  Without my quiet time, I've learned that I'm a train wreck waiting to happen.  Time with my Hubs comes next, followed by kids, grandlittles, friends, jobs and home maintenance.  Everything else is extra and has to wait it's turn.  

3.    It's important to take care of your nest.  Hubs has a spreadsheet to help stay on track with the home chores.  He doesn't have to remember to change the air filters, check the tire pressure and fluid levels in the cars, or replace the smoke alarm batteries - the list tells him to do it.  I keep a weekly list of the basics - dust, vacuum, wash, iron, etc.  The only extra thing I do is clean out one drawer or cabinet each week.  Because everything is pretty organized, it takes me less than 5 minutes to do it.  

4.  Don't forget about your people.  We have regular family dinner nights when all of our grown children and our grandlittles come for dinner.  It's a set date on the calendar.  I knew that if we didn't have a regular date, then we'd never find the time. Have a few minutes with your spouse after work each day.  Just a little bit of time to reconnect and share your day will help to set the tone for the rest of the evening even if you have to go to a meeting or an event after dinner.   I also try to have time with friends whenever I can.  It ends up being mostly quarterly, but it's better than never.  Facebook and texting also help.  Just letting others know that you care about them goes a long way. 

5.   Don't believe the "Go big or go home" mentality.  Little things do mean a lot.  Even if you can't clean your whole house at one time, clean some of it.  Even if you can't sit down to a home-cooked dinner, sit down and eat (anywhere) together.   Even if you can't exercise for a half hour - walk and stretch every chance you get.  

6.  A little planning goes a long way.  I try to plan my meals out for a few weeks at a time.  I don't plan what we will exactly have for each night, but I plan to have the ingredients in my pantry/fridge/freezer for 14 meals so I am prepared to cook.  I do try to plan out tomorrow's dinner, today.  That way, if I have to thaw or soak anything, I'll have it ready.  I also cook double batches of many meals and we eat them for lunches or other dinners.  

7.  Evaluate what you call fun.  We all need a time to rest and rejuvenate, but sometimes we do something just because it's a habit or because we feel obligated.  During this hectic time, I've had to say no to to home-sales parties that my friends are having.  I've had to say no to movies (Hubs and I decided it wasn't quality time with each other).  I've said no to women's retreats and extra Bible studies - all very good things, but not the best thing for my life during this season. 

8.  Say yes to new improvements and goals.  I made a big change in my life this past year in regards to my health.  I decided to cut Gluten out of my diet.  Sure, it took a lot of effort initially, but my improved health and mental clarity made up for it.  Also, Hubs and I still continued to make improvements to our home - just at a much, much, slower pace.  We've stuck to our goals and dreams, but taken the step #5 approach.  We have taken small steps toward bigger goals.  As we're able, we will take more and more steps until the projects are done.  

Laying out the windows we will use for our new greenhouse.  We've been planning it for years!

So there you have my take on how to survive through a hectic season in your life.  What are your tips?  What helps you get through the tough times?