Friday, August 22, 2014

College Apartment Decorating with Recycled Items

Our last minute application, acceptance and move in of Shane to Bard College at Simon's Rock was proceeded one day later by our daughter's move in at Wake Forest for her Senior year. Kelsey and I were originally going to drive over to Wake from where we were on vacation in Wilmington, North Carolina  (about a three and half hour drive). I was to help her move in and furnish her first ever apartment and then fly home. Best laid plans always go to waste, and with the unexpected detour to Great Barrington, Massachusetts to move Shane in, that wasn't to happen. Frequent flyer miles are a gift and I used them to fly down and meet Kelsey.

We had exactly forty eight hours to shop antique and consignment stores to find the bones that we could use to furnish her apartment. With a little embellishment, we turned some one else's cast off objects into some functional and pretty pieces to set the stage for her new apartment. Here are some tips and ideas on how you can transform "trash to treasure."

Step 1 ~ Identify the rooms that need to be furnished and then make a list of what furniture or pieces you are looking for.

Step 2 ~ Google consignment and antique stores in the area that the new residence is in within a particular radius. Read reviews about the stores you find so that you do not drive half an hour to get to your destination to find that their idea of vintage is military paraphanalia. Don't shake your head, it could happen to you.

Step 3 ~ Head out with an empty car so you have plenty of room to jockey in and fit the goods you find.  Try to look differently at pieces when you see them to see if they could serve a purpose other than what they were intended for.

Step 4 ~ Buy, buy, buy!! Look for the bargains and what economically makes sense. 

Step 5 ~ Enjoy! for it is the thrill of the hunt! Make time to eat for that helps keep you and your partner from growling at each other.

Step 6 ~ After you purchase all of your finds, take a break, access what you have and then make a supply list of all the materials you need to gather to transform your items. For fear of getting snagged at security for harboring a glue "gun" (for that would be my luck,)  I decided to purchase most of the supplies I needed down there. I would then leave them in the apartment for the girls to continue to use throughout the year to add on accessory items that they retrofit from junk! 


Our hunting list consisted of a few key pieces that would primarily fill our number one task of furnishing the bedroom.  The girls had purchased used couches and coffee tables from previous apartment dwellers such as themselves and put them into storage until they moved in. There are some great deals to be had if the kids network to find out who is moving on and has furniture that they would rather sell than move. A stumbling block had been the mattress. Prior to coming down, we realized that it was only going to be Kelsey and I, so the thought of trucking a box spring, bed frame and mattress up to the second floor of her narrow apartment stairs gave us pause. Not to mention the cost of a new one and how did we actually get it to the apartment before we could truck it up the stairs?  Kelsey found, on the Sam's Club website, this full mattress and bed frame that actually gets shipped to you in a two boxes that both of us could handle together. The mattress and box spring like bed frame was less than $300 (less than anything else we found) and the shipping cost was $24.00. Done deal! We set it up while having visions of it exploding out of it's kryovac packaging and getting pinned against the wall. The reviews are all excellent and it was really comfy! 

Now that the bed was set up, we headed out to pick!
Our first score was a pepto bismo pink frame that was $14.00. Wouldn't that make a fabulous head board?


We spray painted it with one can of primer. We then coated it with 3 more coats of regular latex white paint. While each coat dried we worked on one of the other pieces and went back and forth like that so as to not waste any time.

When I typically make old frames into bulletin boards, I cut out a piece of plywood that fits into the frame to mount the cork and then the burlap. That adds a lot of weight and I wanted this to be light weight so after it was dry, we stapled burlap to the back and then a layer of thin batting.


We attached picture hangers on the back and strung wire between the two hooks. To hang it we hammered two picture hanging nails into the wall on either end so that it would center well and there you have it! A faux head board that with all materials came in under $35.00. We ran out of time to criss cross ribbons across the board but Kelsey has instructions on how to finish it up.


The next find that we came across was a very heavy gold mirror that was odd in that the top portion of it was not a mirror but was covered with an old green piece of velvet that looked like it might have had a picture mounted to it. Kelsey had been looking for a stand up mirror but we could not find anything for under $150.00. This was $20 and with a little TLC we made it into a mirror jewelry holder combo.



We first used Liquid Nails (love that stuff) to glue a piece of rolled cork onto the green velvet.


Once we glued the cork in place we put some of the heavy storage bins on top to help the glue adhere. After that set, we covered the cork with a piece of burlap doubled over. We then staple gunned the burlap right to the cork as tight as we could to the edges. 


We felt that we needed to cover up the edges of the burlap which we did with some rope trim that we had picked up at the craft store. We glue gunned it all around the edges of the burlap.





To make it functional, we hammered in upholstery tacks in antique brass so that Kelsey could use it as a jewelry rack. Kind of looks like the one I had in college...ha! 
Total cost $40.00


Yes...the dresser...another really important piece to have found in the short time we were down there. We found quite a few, but they were either way too expensive for the nine months that Kelsey will be living there, or too heavy for us to get it up those stinkin stairs again, or would have required too many coats of paint that we just did not have time for. We found this, not so special one at the last store we went to for $40.00. We thought with some new paint (you cannot tell from this photo but this piece had a pink cast to it and was very chipped) and some new knobs, it would do.

Do it did!


We could not find enough of our favorite knobs...


so we had to use two different styles. Kelsey is going to check out the store to see if she can get a few more when they get a new shipment in. 


We found this "frenchy" trunk that we tucked under the window for more storage options that we did not have to do a thing to. Topped with a pillow she brought from home, it makes a nice little window seat.

So here you have it:



All we need now is a cute end table. Shhh...I have the perfect one in the barn that if I paint and take the legs off of, I might be able to stick  in my suitcase and bring it down for parents weekend. We had bought the pillow shams at the Restoration Hardware Outlet before we came down and the comforter is from Target. The bed duvet at the bottom of the bed was purchased three years ago at the Pottery Barn Outlet for her dorm room. Since it was for a twin bed, it no longer fit but when we found the pillow shams, we thought it would work as a throw or extra blanket.


Another area that we thought we would snazz up was the bathroom. Pretty standard but with a pop of color, it makes it a little more eye appealing.




We found all the bath accessories at World Market which is a chain store in the South that is fabulous!!  You can also order on line. They have wonderfully fun, styled, unique, authentic decor at great prices, not to mention their food section. 
Shower curtain was $29.00 ~ not bad! 
Bath rug was $15.00



One thing that I recommend for kids going off to college is a set of monogrammed towels. It helps them keep track of them and who wants to borrow without retuning a towel that has someone else's initials on them? These I had a friend do when Kelsey left for her freshman year. She still has them and she is now a Senior. Look for a monogrammer who will let you purchase your own towels. You will pay a lot less for a quality towel at TJ Maxx or Marshalls and then you can have them monogram them for you. This makes a great Graduation gift as well.



We picked up a couple of odds and ends here and there including this cute little cork display board that we put a hanger on to use as a wall decoration. For $7.00 it was a steal.


On another wall, we hung this cute bulletin board that we found at Home Goods for $19.99. Snagged it because I cannot make one for that!


Really bad selfie

All in all it was a successful trip, not so much measured by the things we made but by the time we spent together making memories even if we slept very little...Mom, tilt it...

The end of the story:
I arrived safely in Philly with my bags, unfortunately they were under my eyes, to get dressed in the airport bathroom so as to not be late heading to an event where I met Cole Hammels and some of the other Phillies players. I wonder if he noticed that I had brought my bags with me? 
Never a dull moment!
I hope that you can use some of these project ideas or revamp them to make them work for you!
Meg































Here are some of our finds and how we transformed them into a much prettier version of their old selves.





Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Wave of Emotion



It is the end of a weekend where we just brought our 19 year old son Shane to college. I am hit with a wave of emotion. It all happened so very quickly that while it was happening, I rode that wave, steady and sure, helping the events of the last month come to fruition this weekend. It was two months ago, while at a dinner, that I learned of Bard College at Simon's Rock, an early college. It was one week ago, while on vacation in North Carolina, that we found out that Shane was accepted. It was three days ago that we arrived home from our vacation cut short, to pack up Shane and all of his belongings in twenty four hours. That twenty four hours time period might qualify for breaking a record in preparation for a college departure. The shopping was completed in three and a half hours. The securing of medical records, the cavity repair at the dentist, and getting a haircut took up another three, almost four hours and before we knew it, Shane's order of proceedings in leaving for college was accomplished in what definitely could be appropriately coined, "a blur."

I flashed back to our daughter's High School experience. The college search, her acceptance letter, the graduation, the party, the internet perusals and Pinterest posts of what bedding to get, how to decorate her dorm room, the matching of sheets, towels, comforters, dust pans, decals for the walls, desk accessories, and  a rug. 
Shane has a trash can... 
The sayings, "things happen for a reason" and "you are only handed what you can handle"are quite overused in my opinion. In this case though, if there was a personality better suited to the lack of proceedings and hasty departure, it was Shane's. Shane is a level headed, takes a lot to ruffle him...a real lot...  minimalist. Who, voiced questions upon shopping such as, "why does red not go with light green, navy and grey," and "why do I need a rug, I like cold floors," which made my jaw hurt from setting it tight so as not to reply sharply to such questions. Did he not know that he was totally ignoring any design sensibilities? All kidding aside, Shane's experiences of the last four years, due to his illness, have been out of the ordinary. It is absolutely true to form that the beginning of his "not the norm" college experience, should be the same. He is not bitter for his lost years, but excited to be on a path that he has dreamt of. I have faced my feelings of bitterness and that loss of time, relationships and experiences for him and now, I am excited as well. 

Two of my close friends have dear friends who have lost their teenagers in the last week to tragedy. It is those occurrences that you hear of that make you squeeze you eyes shut tight, and lift your face to the sky to say a litany to the heavens that no such tragedies befall your own children. Or that makes you do whatever you believe in to ask for their safety. I am writing about this because many of you are facing the same erie absence of one less voice at the dinner table. Not because of a tragedy, thank God, but because of the natural order of progression of young adults leaving for college. In our case, the abrupt departure of a young man who has been a steady fixture in our house, day in and day out, like it or not for the last four years will be felt with a heart straddled between joy and heartache. What if he cannot hold up physically to his lofty goals of Pre-Med and then a PHD in research? What if? What if? What if?
Those questions can make one feel mired in the land of the negative. A place I don't like to dwell, so I will ride that wave of emotion again, hopefully, prayerfully, the wave will crest out on the horizon to then fold itself smoothly onto the shore ahead. Hoping for a smooth ride...


 Sending out a show of support and empathy for the emotions that all of you are experiencing when letting your children fly out on their own two wings. 


They will soar...
and if they crash, we will pick them up, tend to their broken wings and send them off again...it is our love that propels them.
Meg

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Shortcut to Some Amazing Gazpacho!


Some of the best things are fairly simple...
Try this recipe at your next summer gathering. It is one of my favorites and I love to serve it when entertaining or at the beach.
Shhh...I have one secret...the main ingredient is V8 Juice. Yes...canned but the recipe tastes like you picked tomatoes that very day to use in this this tasty number. You can use the reduced sodium version if you are worried about the salt level in regular V8 juice. I also recommend that you let the flavors meld for at least a few hours in the fridge before serving. It is even great served the next day. 

GAZPACHO WITH SHRIMP, AVOCADO AND LIME

Serves 4 ( I often double and you can easily serve 8-10)

SOUP
1 jar (12 oz) roasted red peppers, drained
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out or use the seedless variety
2 cups V8 juice (you can use plain tomato if you are not a V8 fan but I prefer the flavor of the other)

Put all ingredients in a blender . Blend at medium speed 1 minute or until smooth. Pour into a metal bowl , stirring occasionally and chill in fridge until ready to serve. 

While that is chilling mix together the following: (THIS is what makes it really yummy)
12 oz peeled, cleaned and cooked medium shrimp diced
2 Plum (Roma) tomatoes diced
1 avocado diced
1 small green pepper diced
1/2 small red onion
3 Tbls minced parsley or if you want a little more flavor use cilantro (I prefer cilantro)
2 Tbls fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

To serve, pour a cup or so of soup into a decorative bowl. Use an ice cream scooper to mound shrimp mixture in center of bowl. Top with a tsp. of sour cream or more if you really like sour cream! Sprinkle with a little cracked black pepper and enjoy!

When I am serving this for a crowd, I pour the soup into a large glass candy holder type container with a lid. Lay a silver soup server on a pretty glass plate in front and let guests serve themselves. You can also serve the soup in a glass pitcher. Lay out instructions or assemble one so they are sure to not miss every ingredient!

I will post pictures later in the summer of how I serve this refreshing dish but I wanted you to have plenty of time to try it since the summer has now half passed us by.

Bon App├ętit~
Meg

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

All is Well That Ends Well

After an incredibly welcome shower to wipe both the dirt and grime off as well as the memories of the past day, we started Sunday off with a bang. Things start much later on the fields of Brimfield on Sundays so we fit right in. Arriving around 8:30 am, we hit the stalls and tents and found many more treasures to fill up the last remaining space in both the Suburban and the trailer. It was too bad that the roof rack was stuffed with all the luggage from our family trip the week before. Only half of it fit in Chris' car when she met us so the rest went up in the roof rack and still awaits unloading! Maybe tomorrow...


This we had no room for although isn't it so very cool??


This we could fit in and NO it is not an antique port-o-potty but a grain bin. Wouldn't it make a fabulous recycling center?


We could not fit this in either...nor would we have wanted to. It is an antique torpedo, and I know, we totally missed the boat on not trying to fit that strapped to the roof rack.


We were able to fit in a collection of rusty metal lamp shades in all shapes and sizes which we have some really neat plans for. 


Up and down the main street of Brimfield, for a mile long, are tents upon tents of anything and everything you can imagine. Some things you can use your imagination on to dream of what they could become...some you cannot. It takes all kinds of folks!


There are tents of vignetted items...


and rows and rows of...stuff...for lack of a better word.
You definitely need a good sense of what you would like to do with this stuff or you need a clear cut idea of what you are looking for because you can absolutely get mired down in...the stuff.


We definitely found some "stuff" that we really like. Some that is ready to go as is and some that we have grand plans for.


(You know I love my mantels!)
We will be documenting the change over of some of these items over the next two months as we get ready for the Fall.


So seven hours after leaving Brimfield we arrived home to the crack of thunder and pouring rain at 10:25 pm. Brimfield is not that far away but have you ever tried to pull a heavy trailer and go above 55 mph? Don't!
 It is a good thing that we could back that stinker up within a foot of the entrance. Four of the five of my brood and my doting husband (Ha!) I think fed up husband by this time, met us up at the barn and we unloaded the loot, returned the trailer and fell into bed in an exhausted heap at 12:40 am.

As I fell asleep, the question of, "why am I doing this?" did enter once of twice before my heavy eye lids closed. I do not think that I had time to answer that question for myself before I started snoring but I certainly can now!
The thrill of the hunt...
the love of all things old and vintage with a past...
the stories behind these objects...
the beauty in their age...
I just love it...
and always will!
Thanks for coming along for the ride with me!
My favorite find reveal is coming tomorrow so check back in here!
Until then~
Meg










Monday, July 14, 2014

Euphoria and Insanity all Rolled into One at Brimfield

Okay, the gig is up. Am I paying for a wrong in a past life? Not that I believe in that stuff but really, how can you explain how our first full day at the Brimfield Antique Show went from total euphoria to a  re-enactment of a scene from Thelma and Louise?  We had hit the fields early, being the very first car to park in the lot of the field that we had chosen to peruse first. We had strapped on our back packs, checked our show map and confirmed in which direction we were heading. 


The sun was high in the sky and as the temperatures soared we scored find after find. Some small and...


some big.


After four hours, we felt so good about our purchases that we even took some time to sit and nosh on  Brimfield's famous lobster rolls. How can life get any better than this?


We were thrilled to run into one of our favorite Face book friends, Carried Away Antiques as we happened upon their booth. We made quite a comical site as we rolled a fabulously large grain bin out of their booth and over two fields while we balanced an antique frame that was larger than Chris is, while stopping to fill the grain bin with a selection of glass buoys. 



You know, when it really comes down to it, picking out the perfectly imperfect buoy to fill a bag of eight is hard work.


We had picked out goodies in four different fields, some quite large and heavy which could not be pushed over the river and through the woods. The solution was, to assemble your piles, pay for them and then hope like heck that they are still there when you maneuver your trailer as close to them as you possibly can without appearing in the local paper the next day for taking out a few of the shoppers.



We begrudgingly left our coveted parking spot to navigate through the various fields hoping that our mental notes of where we had left our piles were accurate. That was the biggest worry! Chris and I were incredibly proud of our accomplishment of finding everything that we had purchased and were delighting at the new found friends that we had made who so graciously helped us load the trailer. One thing about loading a trailer, that we have learned, is that you have to pack it like you are putting together a puzzle so as to to fit in as much as you can into the space. Space is a hot commodity, for God forbid you find that perfect piece and cannot fit it in to make the trip home!

Chris and I high fived each other as we pulled away from our last pick up at 2:15 pm. We were doing a little happy dance having found so many goodies with so much time still left in front of us. Most of the fields do not close until dusk so we had more than a few hours left. We had one snafu and that was that both of us had forgotten to bring a lock for the trailer doors in the back. The next batch of fields were too far away to see the trailer. Should we chance leaving a loaded trailer in a field and then leave it unlocked? We decide no, so we  headed to the closest Walmart to pick up a lock. We were literally soaking wet from loading the trailer and thought that the ten minutes sitting in front of the blasting air conditioner might do us good so that we could hit the fields hard, once again, after we cooled off during our short drive. 


That little happy dance that we were doing just a short time ago was abruptly interrupted by a mean Mr. Murphy as we smelled something burning and then noticed smoke coming out of what looked like the back of the trailer. I pulled over as quickly as I could, clicked on the hazards as 
Chris popped out of the passenger side. I joined her and we both stood starring at the baked rubber on the back right tire of the trailer. Did we have a flat? No...it was still full. Hmm...why is the metal above the tire so hot? why is the tire so hot? why is the metal rim of the trailer resting on the top of the tire? We quickly ascertain that the metal cover above the tire is rubbing the tire, causing it to create friction, causing it to melt a line in the tire and to cause the smoke. I had noticed the 1-800 number on the U Haul paperwork as I was stuffing it in the console, for the number was quite large. I had vaguely read something about calling that number for road side assistance. As I try to get back in the car to retrieve that helpful info, I barely get in the car with my rear end attached as we were partially on the road and the car whizzing by did not give any courtesy to my backside as I climbed in. We both decide that the trailer is drive-able enough to put our hazards on and limp along at 20 mph the two miles to our hotel. Who knew how long it would be until someone got to us to check things out?


Let us just say that after the first tow truck comes, in an hours time, to have the driver declare that it is not a tire problem and he is a tire guy, he will have to call dispatch to get a mechanic out, we are a little frustrated. I am sorry but I was under the impression that a tire guy is a mechanic. Not true people. 


This is the truck of a real mechanic who arrived another hour or so later to ascertain that our problem was a rotted bolt on the right rear axle which caused three axle springs to break causing the back end of the trailer to sag onto the tire. The U Haul is not drive-able.
 "How do we get another one we ask?" 
"We don't," the mechanic says. "I am going to temporarily fix the axle with a block of wood I can attach the bolt to and then you will drive to the closest U Haul dealer to get another one. " Chris and I look at each other leerily and ask why they cannot bring us another one. For those of you who don't know, Brimfield is the largest antique show in the eastern part of the country, stuck in the middle of a tiny town in Massachusetts. There were tons of crazies like us renting all the U Hauls in a 30 mile radius. We had to get the temporary fix to be able to drive thirty something miles to the the U Haul place that still had trailers available. We pulled out around 6:15 pm with our trusty mechanic behind us who had jury rigged the axle singing, On the road again, I just can't wait to get on the road again, almost four hours after the initial break down took place. Four hours in which we paced the parking lot, ran into the hotel at times (thank goodness we had made that decision to get to the hotel) to connect to wifi to use the facilities and to call U Haul. As we paced, the thought of driving thirty something miles away at a snails pace, unloading everything we had just loaded to load it yet again and then drive back the thirty something miles started to cause us to pace more. Did I mention that at least half of what we bought had iron on it somewhere causing the necessity of three of us to load many of the pieces into the trailer? The two of us and one very strong man. 


Sensing my frustration at one time, with our dreams dashed of checking into the hotel at a decent hour with smiles imprinted smugly upon our faces from accomplishing so much in that one day, that heck we might even have time to watch a movie, Chris said to me, "I will continue to do fake, stupid, happy for a little longer and you run across the street and check out that antique store." After keeping my calm for almost four hours I took her up on it and fake, stupid, happy became our mantra for the day. Thanks Chris!

Chris and I work really well together in all circumstances, we both try and remain calm at all times, we both do well with stress and we try to find the humor in whatever situation might come our way, which in my case, seems to be where the Murphy's Law comes in. Was anybody else looking to unload their trailer that night because the first one they had had broke down??? 
No... Has anyone heard of a U Haul breaking down??? Maybe a flat tire...but the axle??? As we map quest the directions to the address the mechanic had given us an App came up entitled shut uppa your face.
Shut uppa your face...anyone ever heard of that one??? 
We both start laughing hysterically probably out of fatigue, the heat and the lack of any food since our lobster roll at 11 am.



We finally pull into our second U Haul dealer for the day after completing the drive uneventfully which seemed to have taken hours for the fear that the wood block would not hold up, to find several trailers in a row. Great we can have our pick! No one is around and the mechanic was told by U Haul that they close at 7 (it was 7:22) but it was no problem. They would leave us a trailer and we should just drop ours after transferring the packed goods. After searching for several minutes for any sign that paperwork had been left for us to take the trailer or any indication of which trailer we were to take, two men walk out of the U Haul facility. We approach them and the mechanic tells them the scenario and asks which trailer we are to take. They reply that we cannot take any trailer for they are closed and the computers are shut down.
 "Sorry ma'm." 
This is where the Thelma and Louise part comes in and my temporary battle with insanity. 

Sorry Ma'm? 
You want me to drive back thirty something miles on a broken axle and then drive back here thirty something miles tomorrow morning when you are open? when we were told by U Haul to come here and pick up a trailer...tonight? 

"Sorry ma'm, we are closed, there is nothing we can do." 
"Your vehicle broke down on us and there is nothing you can do???" 
It all went downhill from there. Not that it had not slipped in that direction hours ago but not to this extent. Again, I think it was the heat, my own stench at this point, the realization that I had a bad sun burn on my arms, the visions of a bottle of water or better yet a Margarita and some food, the thought of still having to load and reload the trailer and the shut uppa your face that made me break.

As the two insolent attendants left us hanging as they drove away, having repeated, "Sorry ma'm," several more times the poor mechanic knew that he better do something quick before I turned my wrath on him. During our little "conversation", he had called the owner of that particular U Haul store and got permission to take a U Haul. We were back in action and by 8:45 we had the load switched with the help of Kevin the mechanic, who had softened to our plight and finally made introductions as he warned us that we were in a bad area and should get this done quickly. I think he was rather puzzled at what we were going to do with all this "old stuff" but he was a work horse. If it weren't for Kevin who had volunteered to help us load and unload vs. us waiting for U Haul to find  someone to help us, which we were told could be a couple of hours, we would still be pacing...frantically. Maybe the two attendants would have been happy to help us?
Shut uppa your face



We make a quick stop at the Home Depot to pick up our lock on the way back to the hotel parking lot because wouldn't it be soooo funny if we walked out the next am to remember that we had not locked the back of the trailer and everything was gone???

Drama has a way of following me around at times and really, it is not of my own making.


The positive of this whole experience?

I found this really funny little saying that I love!
Chris and I finally got to enjoy some pasta and that Margarita at 9:50 pm as we raced into the restaurant that we could walk to from the hotel before they stopped serving at 10.
We learned how to do fake, stupid, happy... really well.
We learned about a new App that we had never heard of before.
I also learned that sanity can be reinstated after suffering from a bout of insanity...
and we will be back at Brimfield tomorrow am bright and early...well maybe not as bright nor early as the first am only sixteen hours ago, but we will be there never the less!

More later~
xxxx
Meg