Saturday, October 31, 2015


My sister Terri passed away this morning.  After being diagnosed with a glioblastoma in early August, she succumbed today after a courageous fight with cancer.
To share an insight into my sister, the oldest of 10 siblings, Terri was always there for every single one of us.  She was one of the most selfless people I have ever known.  

One of  Mom's favorite things to say to describe Terri was this:  Terri would be there for any one of us regardless of her life's situation at the time.  No matter what crises was going on in her life, she would lend a hand.  Terri always was the last priority on her own lists.
She thought of others more than she ever thought of herself.  She raised two children and could have been described as a helicopter parent.  She did the job all by herself.  Though this might not have been the perfect situation, she was engaged through every minute of her children's

Terri was like this with her family and friends as well.  I could guarantee that her 'work' family could say the same about her.  I recall her showing me the set of bracelets and necklaces she made for a co-workers bridal party.  Terri thrived on this giving nature.

I recall being at a family gathering and noticing that she was handing out business cards of my blog, that she had printed off,  telling people how great it was.  I was  humbled at the time, but she reveled in the fact that this was something that everyone should be interested in. In addition, there were times that I was ready to quit writing this blog, but she would not accept that.  She sincerely enjoyed reading the postings, no matter how boring they seemed to me.  I would get a short text from her now and then telling me how much she enjoyed a post.  She was just like that with every single person she encountered.  Terri was the family cheerleader.

One of my fondest memories of Terri was responsible for starting my interest in refinishing furniture.  While cleaning out the basement in one of the houses that they refinished, she took me down to the basement and showed me an old spice cabinet that was left from a previous owner.  That piece started my  love of 'up cycling' items. Whenever we spoke on the phone, she inquired about  my latest project.  Productivity was something that she excelled at and she inspired all of us around her to do likewise.

When she was moving back to Chicago from St. Louis,  she asked me if I was interested in buying(for a very reasonable price) one of the armoires that was one of the remaining pieces of furniture in this historical house. I was thrilled to have something with actual known history. I have yet to refinish this piece, but now I think would be a good time.

Terri was what you would call a whirling dervish.  She would juggle more things at one time than the best of us. She could be having a party, making the food, decorating, printing something off on the printer, taking pictures, and being a hostess all in the same few minutes.  No one could keep up with her stamina.  She was the queen of multitasking.

Terri could usually be found with a camera in her hands.

  When we would travel for our annual Sister's weekend, I can guarantee that she took a picture of every meal that she had at the  bed and breakfast, restaurant or wherever we stopped to eat.  I'm not sure where this need came from, to take pictures of everything, but I think she wanted to create long lasting memories.  Reflecting back on these weekends, we are so lucky that we made the time to get together as sisters, with Mom, to eat, shop, relax and spend time with one another.

Terri never knew how to truly relax.  If we were attending a sister's weekend, she would be beading, or organizing her files on the laptop as we would be sitting around having a glass of wine. She would join in the conversation and have a glass of wine too, but her hands were always busy. If she came home for a holiday, she would bring at least 3 satchels of her ongoing craft projects. There was never a moment wasted that she wasn't productive. 

 And on these occasions, she would bring basic starter projects to show her nieces and nephews how to be crafty too.  My girls learned how to crochet, make beading Christmas ornaments, and numerous other craft items during those visits with Terri.

  Our Grandma Roth taught us, or those willing to listen, her crafting skills.  Grandma embroidered, crocheted, sewed, and quilted her entire life.  Terri definitely was an extension of Grandma.  No one could have believed the amount of crafting supplies that  Terri had accumulated over the years. She could have opened up her own craft shop with the scrapbooking, card making, beading and cross stitching projects. Ten years ago, I recall joking with a sibling that Terri had enough crafting projects to live her life out in a nursing home.  Unfortunately, that was not what God had planned.

Terri's work ethic was impeccable.  I like to think she came from good stock, but in reality, she was a force to be reckoned with.  She was an example to all of her younger siblings.  How often in a conversation among us you would hear, 'That Terri!'.

Humility was her gift too.  She never wanted to be the center of attention.  She enjoyed her family members' successes and if she could create a craft project to commemorate those successes, she would do so.

While I was single, Terri always invited me on her vacations.  We visited Boston, Washington, DC, Raleigh Durham, W. Virginia and smaller trips in Illinois.  Terri was fast with everything she did, especially in her walking.  I could never keep up with her and I would joke at the time that I would need a vacation after our trips to rest.

In the last few years of Terri's life, she found an interest in bicycling. She biked through Charleston, SC, Italy and France.  What a go-getter.  Honestly, I would never go on my own and venture out, but Terri did.  She loved these trips.

Terri had major challenges in her life. I tend to think that with the trauma of losing her Mother at the age of 10, as the oldest, some expected her to help raise her younger 6 siblings.  Can you imagine that? Another challenge came after her marriage when she was pressured to leave the church for a long time.  It is with great relief that she made the effort to return to church in the last few years. Other major challenges included her devastating divorce and a bout with breast cancer that never kept her down.  Most people would have buckled with such stresses, but she never, ever gave up.

 To see her rendered so helpless after her initial diagnosis with a brain tumor was a shock. I recall going to Chicago 6 weeks after that fateful day.  There she was sitting in the recliner with her legs crossed and hands folded.  I had never in my entire life seen those hands still.

In her last few months, our sister Sharon, the retired nurse, set into motion all that was necessary for Terri's care, handling medications, getting Terri's house cleaned and ready for showings and leading the rest of the siblings, a sister-in-law, nieces and nephews in a well developed plan.  Like Terri herself, Sharon executed the details in a very organized pattern.  My sisters Merri and Karen (and her husband Dave and daughter-in-law), brother Bill (and his wife Debi), and nieces and nephews assisted Sharon in completing the bulk of all these tasks.  Such giving back is a gift that this family continues to share with their loved ones.

Terri was loyal to those outside her family as well.  When I visited her in September, I was overwhelmed with the numerous friends that Terri had from her workplace, church, and neighborhood.  Their abundant gifts and many visits cheered her up.  She would rally when they came to visit her and I know their frequent communication kept her engaged.

Terri has worked hard, fought the good fight and left this world a better place.  I don't believe that she consciously planned it that way.  

I have every hope  that Terri will be greeted at the heavenly gates by her two loving mothers, father, grandmothers and other family members.  They will tell her that yes, her job was completed and she did well.

I am very sad about Terri. It is a good thing, that when Terri comes to mind in future days, a smile will appear on my face.  Thank you Terri for all you did for us.  You were loved well by your family and friends. I love you Terri!

 And so I believe that Terri is in line for the All Saints Day parade-just in time for tomorrow's Feast day.
 May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


When I received the FREE Duncan Phyfe square table, there was a bonus.
                                                                      This magazine holder has a very plain style and has some major chips out of the veneer.  Nothing but wood putty and some chalk paint will transform this into a cool piece.

Wait and see.


Saturday, October 24, 2015


I have some dear friends that celebrate their birthdays around Halloween, so therefore cards had to be created.
Using black and beige colors gave me an inspiration.  It started with a image of a chandelier.
Dimensional crystal accents were glued onto the image giving the feeling of garland strands of crystals.

Black and cream scrapbook papers serve for the backdrop and black and white polka dotted washi tape completes the front of the card.

Happy birthday to my cherished friends.

Monday, October 19, 2015


My daughter wanted to make a going away present for one of her graduating high school peers attending West Point Prep Academy.  She had previously made one for her Dad for his office.
She started out getting a small metal bowl and heat gun out. 
This project was made outside, so she got a piece of scrap wood out of the garage to begin work.  Because of the high heat of the heat gun, she worked on the wood on top of the metal patio table. 
After turning the bowl over, she began one army man at a time, melting it to form the bowl.  This process took over two hours to complete. 
Look at the result.
Another view.

Though this bowl cannot be used to eat cereal out of, it still is a cute way to hold paper clips on his desk at school.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


In terms of coming up with an idea for my Halloween mantle, I resorted to using the up cycled window that I had used last year--with a twist.
Because this window was so heavy, I wanted to make sure that leaned up against the mantle mirror, it would not topple.
Taking a good hefty chunk of tacky, I placed three globs underneath the bottom of the window that would be sitting on the mantle itself.
Once on the mantle, it felt very secure.

 I picked up this black spider web material for 75% off at the end of last Halloween season.  Originally the package cost $1.49 so it cost almost nothing.  After purchasing it, I left a note on the package reminding me to use it for this year's October mantle and placed it in my fall tub upstairs.

Leaving the suitcases on the mantle, I added a plastic black cauldron that one of my girls won from a party raffle last year.  Initially, I wanted to give it to Goodwill, but decided against it.  I'm so glad, because the black ties in with the spider web and black window frame.  The crow just had to have a place, so he was situated on top of the rattan suitcase.

 I am happy to say that this mantle cost me a matter of pennies, since the webbing was the only item purchased for this year's mantle.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


 I finally had put the painting of this table off long enough. 
Instead of painting a coat of shellac on with a brush, I purchased a spray can of Zinser's shellac.  This product would save tons of time, especially with all the nooks and crannies of this table.
First, I pulled out the palm sander and cleaned the varnish off the top of the table.  After wiping it clean with a damp cloth, I realized that I had more work to do before painting.

I found several divets in the base of the table.  There was also a significant one on the side of the apron.  
I wanted to use the quick drying wall spackle to keep this project on track.

So, I filled the holes and let them dry.

Now I was ready to spray paint the shellac.  I gave the table 2 coats of the shellac with an hour of drying time in between coats.

However, the humidity was not my friend today, so I have to wait overnight before I could give it another coat of the shellac.  Patience is a virtue.  So hard for me at times.
I painted 2 coats with Paris Grey Chalk paint.

Then using a thin paint brush, I painted in all the intricate carvings with white chalk paint.

Notice how sloppy I was with the white chalk paint.  I will sand lightly later to get the excess white paint off the gray flat spots.

So after the light sanding, the table is ready to wax.

This is a close up of the harp section of the base.

To prepare for the waxing, I pulled out my compact palm polisher with the terry cloth cover.

Before waxing, I decided to only wax the top of the table because I really liked the matte finish of the base of the table.  This top will get most of the wear and the wax will protect from water damage from drinks.  The next picture shows just a small area of the top with the wax applied before buffing.  The wax definitely darkens the gray paint and brings out the texture of the sanded areas.

After buffing the top, this is the result.

Because fall is here, I wanted to compliment the table with some silver plate and dried pressed autumn leaves.
I bought this lovely lid, though damaged on the top, at an estate sale for $1.00.  A quick polish will revive the piece.  Since I will be flipping it over, the damage will not show.

What magic a little polish will provide.

Thankfully, last fall, I picked up a lot of colorful leaves and pressed them in an old book.  Multiple rubber bands kept the book closed tightly.

One year later and look at the results.  The colors have been preserved and they still look fresh.

Laying them in the silver plated lid was an easy way to display and add autumnal color.

Sitting the lid on top of Grandpa's vintage grey scale added some interest.

Here is another view of the harp base.

Putting the table next to the chaise lounge completed this corner of the Great room.

I can really see myself simplifying my decorating style.  Less is best.  The room appears to be cleaner with less on the flat surfaces.  And to be honest, it is less dusting when you don't have so much to move while cleaning.

I want to thank Whitney's Grandma for this beautiful table.  It truly was an act of love to bring this hobbled table back to being a beauty.

I am showing you a picture of the table during the evening hours.  The colors change so much with the lighting.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


It isn't often that I do a fairly simple up-cycling project, but today is the day.
My sister found this item at her Church's garage sale.  As far as function goes, I can see why someone would give this pitcher away.  People do not like to polish silver.  On the other hand, I love  polishing silver for therapy.  Strange as it seems, with a little elbow grease the most tarnished piece comes to new life.
I wonder what this pitcher was used for in its first life.

Out came my favorite polishing cream, Wrights. Within 5 minutes the silver plated lid was shiny.

Since I was using a lot of natural elements in my fall display this year, a package of wheat did the trick.  Simply dropping in the bunch of wheat transformed this neglected item into  treasure.

While appearing airy sitting on top of the porch post stand, it reflects the calming feel of a quiet autumn.

Thank you to my sister for seeing the potential in this splendid pitcher.
Simply beautiful.

Friday, October 2, 2015


 After living in the house for 5 years, we noticed that the mildew and mold had started to form on the gutters.  Many times, people power spray the residue off them.  Not to be outdone, Mr. Thrifty picked up a cleaner from Home Depot.

Because it is a concentrate, the Mr. diluted the mixture according to the directions.  Then he placed it in the pump sprayer. 

 Notice the grime underneath the gutter itself.

The directions say to spray on the mixture and wait 5 minutes.  We both got on ladders with our green scrubby pads and scrubbed.  It didn't take long to figure out that it needed another dose of spray and another scrubbing to really clean them.

Notice the difference in the left and right sides of the house.

 Another before picture.

The back side is now clean.  We would wait for another day to attack the second side of the house.

 It did take a lot of elbow grease.  Without the scrubbing, neither one of us were satisfied with the results.

The front is waiting to be done.

The next weekend, we cleaned the side of the house.  I think this is going to be a 4 weekend project.

We decided to increase the cleaning solvent and doubled the amount to the next batch of water.  It really did a much better job.  There is just no way around the scrubbing though. 

The front fa├žade was finished on Sunday.  The results were great. 

 Despite all of my complaining about this seemingly endless job, I have to admit that Mr. Thrifty was right.  The house appears to be newly built now that the gutters have that pristine look once again.

 I hope that the next time this job comes around in another 5 years, we can hire someone to do it.

After this physical job, you will not believe what is up Mr. Thrifty's sleeve next?  Transplanting 2, yes, 2 trees that we planted 4 years ago!!!  Granted, he will be doing the digging, but I still have to assist in getting them up the back hill to their new location.  I asked him if this was the absolute last, back breaking job.  I did NOT get a definitive answer.