Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Brave Girls Camp ~ Part 2

I left off stating in my last post that I wanted to share my journey home with all of you. That I do, so here goes. I might make some references that are from my first post so if you have not read it yet, you might want to or you can just continue to think that I am not making much sense. Our last night as a brave girl was a bit somber. I think that all of us were sad to leave our new found friends and such an indulgent authentic environment. As with anything we are fully enjoying, who ever wants to leave? This ran a little deeper in that we were going back to many of the challenges that we talked about, in the morning light. How would we fare with our new brave girl status? We hugged as if we were leaving family members and we said heartfelt thank yous to Melody, Kathy and their staff. Let me tell you, they have the best job ever and they do it effortlessly and beautifully...even though we know how much effort is put into the depth and beauty of the week's events. I had a 5 am wake up call of which I dreaded the entire night. I am not a morning person...shocker. Night time is when my brain is on fire and that night was no different so having very little sleep, I hopped a cab, a little bleary eyed and reluctant to physically end my "walk" in Idaho.

I told you about my not so friendly seat mate on my way here in my earlier post. Well I was a little worried that this flight was going in the same direction when I got on the plane, glanced at my ticket and found my seat, as well as another young man sitting in the aisle seat. Looks like I would have to climb over his lap too! Should I say hello this time? Before I could, he jumped the gun and said, "Hi! I would politely stand up and let you in but I am paralyzed from the waist down." This greeting caused an in depth conversation for the remainder of the flight. This was a young man who was very open with sharing his tragic car accident at 18 years of age that caused his injury. That was three years ago. He told me of how he is trying to go back to college this fall, of the pleasure he takes in writing poetry, the struggles living alone in his apartment and his dream of being an inspirational speaker. Talk about being BRAVE...I told him that he should always shoot for his dreams and that his poetry was a gift...it is. I said to him that he should give it all he had and being that I have children his age, I revealed that 
I  was overwhelmed with emotion when he announced that he was paralyzed and how it happened. As we parted, I leaving first to catch my connecting flight, while he waited for assistance as the plane emptied to get him into his wheelchair, I left him with a parting thought, "I am so proud of all that you have accomplished Bryon Walker." (remember that name) He left me with a knife in the chest, "I wish my mom would tell me that she is proud of me." No this is not the latest installment of a reality TV show but a huge affirmation of a lesson we had learned this past week.

He obviously was...with a smack dab in the face set back and a sense of humor that made you laugh...a belly laugh.

Wow...I booked it to my connecting flight for we landed late and it truly was a sprint to get to the next plane. I boarded it and low and behold, another young man was to be my seat mate...again on the aisle. Were there no women traveling between Idaho and Philadelphia that liked aisle seats? I guess they were all on a plane to Iowa. 

I flopped into my seat and fervently wished that THIS young man would not want to speak. Was I capable of instituting a "don't talk to me bubble space?" Fatigue was starting to set in and after the weeks events and my emotional encounter, sleep was looking like a welcome friend. We both acknowledged each other and after some small talk, I promptly fell asleep against the window and thankfully not on his shoulder.

I woke up with my my face smashed up against the window, to this stunning view. I must have made quite an impression on Mr. young man.  I continued to drift in and out of wakefulness with thoughts of my past week fluctuating between taking in the changing landscape as we flew over it. As I slowly became more grounded in the present as I slowly woke up, I was amazed at the land that we were flying over and the changing terrain. From the arid deserts, to mountains of great height, fields of dry dusty brown and then verdant green. Rivers snaked through the vista and lakes sat still as if no motion was happening in them and they reflected the sun like glass. It struck me that the journey I was taking physically over the changing landscape was very synonymous with the journey of our lives. 
Sometimes the visibility of our path is fairly clear, there are few cloudy areas and everything is visible and out in the open.

Sometimes we cannot see anything, our path is unknown and we trust in others to show us the way.

Sometimes the path is twisted and there seems to be no straight or easy way to our goals.

Sometimes it seems like all we ever do is go in circles...ever have a day like that...or a week or two?

Sometimes life is set out like an orderly grid, everything makes sense...

sometimes it does not.

Sometimes life is verdant and green full of many blessings...

sometimes it is dry and barren, inhospitable in fact to living peacefully...especially for one's soul.

We will experience new unchartered territory as well as the everyday routine.

It is not always smooth sailing but...

even if the blessings are hidden and they are not always obvious. Keep plowing through, keep being inspired by the beauty and the little things and...

Do not settle for anything less...there are is only one chance at this great big existence so seize it, look at the positives, count your blessings, even the little ones, and 

So, as I silently took my snap shoots out of the plane's window periodically, I could feel the young man's eyes at my back. He at one point said, "First time on a plane?" I replied, "No, first time really seeing it from a different perspective." 
Thank you again Brave Girls Club.
As we launched into a conversation that lasted the rest of the flight based on the vision comment, a woman's voice came on the speaker announcing our location, the weather and all of those little details the "man" pilot usually gives you. She signed off with,  'over and out... Susan." How apropos that my flight home was captained by a woman pilot and my seat mates were open and sharing in their thoughts and lives. Funny how that was not the case on my trip out to the Brave Girl River Ranch...

What I did not realize upon signing up for this camp was that the fire would not only be reignited in my creativity...but in my soul. 

All artwork in both posts except for my journal entry and "Fabric of My Life" page were created by the uber talented Melody Ross of the Brave Girls Club.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Brave Girls Camp Part I

Thanks for the image Sheila!

What do these two words mean to you?
I started off this summer trying to figure this out, surrounded by art,

a beautifully peaceful vista,

 and a group of women with various backgrounds and different reasons for attending the Brave Girls Art Camp. 

Autumne Horan's photo.

I have ended this summer thankful that I pulled the plug and jumped over hurdles to make this adventure work into my life, for I have utilized much of what I took from my four day experience to be brave during a summer filled with transitions. I would like to share it with you in the hopes that you might be able to utilize some of what I learned.
For those of you who have not been in ear shot of me when I have launched into heralding the virtues of the Brave Girls Club, here is your quick Brave Girls Club 101 lesson. It is an uplifting online, inspirational and motivational "worldwide community of women, of every age, who want to live the best, happiest, most productive and fabulously brave life that they can possibly live...and that means something different to each and every one of us."

 That is the caveat...being brave means something different to the woman you are sitting next to on the train, to the one you are class mom with, to the one you share office space with, to the one you are in line next to at the grocery store, to the one you are cheering with at your child's sports game, to the one you are kneeling next to in church.  Each of us has a different path that has taken us to this stage in life...where our life is right now. We have our own set of individualized triumphs and trials that have influenced us and continue to do so on our path of where we would like to take this beautiful life whose beauty is often disguised by both these triumphs and trials.  What is not different about us, is that we are all beautiful souls who have often forgotten about what life was like for us when we were 8 years old...the fun, the joy of life, the dreams, the idea that we could do anything, be anything...we were unstoppable! Then life happens.
  Melody Ross and her sister Kathy Wilkins cofounded the Brave Girls Club  in 2009 and that is one of their messages that they like to make you think about. All of their messages are so true but they are said with such depth and eloquence that I do not feel that I can do them justice. I would like to speak to how they have affected my life but to find out more, do yourself a favor and check out their site www.bravegirlsclub.com
 Read the ABOUT part first, EACH and EVERY section of it and you will understand!

My obsession with Brave Girls Club started a few years back when I saw on my Face book feed one of their Daily Truth emails which felt was written just for me. It immediately made me look them up to find out more. Once I did, I was hooked. I signed up for their Daily Truth emails, entitled "A Little Bird Told Me" and you can too, once on their site. I sent these messages to women in my life who I felt needed them and shared them on my FB page. I went on their site and found out about their Brave Girls Camp. Almost four days of immersing myself in creative pursuits and art all based on feeding my soul???
SOLD! Well almost...I clicked on that link probably one hundred times over a three year period and the timing was never right. I had done that for another creative function that I had wanted to attend years back and it never happened and now, they no longer hold the event I had so badly wanted to attend. This time I pulled the trigger. Do you believe in things that sometime happen that look like a neon sign telling you that this was meant to be? 
I do.
That neon sign blinked at me in the form of my request to be put on the waiting list for the June 10th date only (my kids would have just ended school), being answered that they were adding two more spots. (It was sold out for the rest of 2014 and will start to fill up for 2015 shortly) I was desperately in need of "living" some of their messages and of restoring my "brave girl face!" I had to answer quickly before the spots were released to their almost 100,000 FB followers and to their who knows how many web followers. 
I booked it, credit card and all without even consulting my husband and family. To be embarrassingly honest with you, I apparently had the location of Idaho (the Brave Girls Club local) and Iowa confused, for after impulsively hitting Send on my registration, I looked at possible flights and was shocked to see flight times of seven and half to fourteen hours. Another small detail overlooked before I pulled the trigger. Another lesson I learned while there, backed up my impulsive decision. WE WILL ALWAYS FIND AN EXCUSE NOT TO... 

Now that I had ignored my excuses "not to," I made my way to the Brave River Ranch in Idaho, solo,  having no idea what I would find at the other end of my journey. Looking back on my travels, I found it so apropos that my seat companion on the plane ride there was a young man, who looked to be a recent college graduate currently employed and heading somewhere on a business trip. That fact, in and of itself is not earth shattering. What is, is that we spoke not a word to each other on the four hour flight, except when I asked him if I could please sneak past him to use the restroom. To which he mumbled, "sure."Now let me give you a little background on why this was earth shattering. I am constantly teased by my family in that I always seem to get a person's life story whilst sitting next to them on a plane, or at the grocery store, or wherever we may be. They have been known to stand at the end of an exit ramp of a plane waiting patiently for me as I bring up the rear of the plane talking to my new found friend. They used to ask, "What took you so long?" Now they ask, "Where is he/ she from? What is their story?" as they shake their heads at me. With this young gentleman, there was a definite air and unapproachable bubble around him that said, "Do not speak, " when I said hello and then climbed over his lap to get to my seat  So I didn't, as I sweated profusely hoping against hope that I did not fall asleep and me being the bobble head, wake up sleeping on his shoulder. That might have really freaked him out. I will apologize now for having to read Part #2 to find out why that is so apropos. 

The few days spent at the Brave River Ranch were some of the deepest days that I have had in my lifetime. Spent with women from all walks and stages of life...mothers, widowers, company owners, art teachers, army sergeants (majors?), daughters, nannies and teachers;

 all looking to live life a little more deeply,

The truth whispers and never gives up

 a little more meaningful, 

Our art journals

a little more creatively

The fabulous ART BARN

 and just a tad bit braver for I think we already are pretty darn brave! 
We knew not what to expect but had been lured here by the promise of relishing in the creative genius of Melody, Kathy and her crew whilst immersing ourselves in art as they gently handled our souls as to help us expand our horizons as we came to the conclusion that:


We were pampered with scrumptious home cooked meals that we delightfully shared with each other around tables that were beautifully and personally decorated. (Seriously, was that not the best lemon ice cream and sugar cookie bowl ever?)

We were over the moon being surrounded by art supplies and the thrill of uninterrupted creativity for three days.

The scene as we arrived...

My "area" a little later!

We laughed, we cried, we shared, we twirled, we created, we talked late into the night with our new roomies, we walked, we talked some more, we sang, we drank Cool Aide, we got in touch with our eight year old selves and listened to what they had to say to our 80 year old selves, we were still and listened to what we had to say to ourselves, we were brutally honest...and we did this all with strangers...who at the end of the four days... became a band of sisters who will carry the Brave Girl message on with them that I think is the most important one...
We are all traveling through this thing called life together, let's try and make the road a little easier for each other.

So...as I finally write this after pages and pages of crossed out and edited text that I have written beginning on my airplane ride home, I realize why it took me so long to summarize my experience out West, not in the midwest as I had originally thought. There was so much that I took away from my time in Idaho, how was I to encapsulate it without writing a book? (My posts are already too long!) What kicked me in the butt to get this finished was the fact that it was my oldest son's twenty third Birthday today, and he is not here. He left last weekend to participate in a nine month wilderness, find out what makes you tick and run with it to find your future, executive function planning, independent living skills program for young men with ADHD and learning differences. He will be out in Wyoming for nine months and I already miss him dearly. He is my biggest challenge in life and my greatest reward at the same time. He is my right arm here at our little farm and my left arm when it comes to setting up for our barn sales. Yet, again, and all to close together, another one in our nest has flown off to find their path and the transition of life as it continues on without them, is an adjustment. One in which many of us have thought we yearned for... a quite house, peace in the bathroom...alone, at times in their rambunctious younger years. Then the thought, in their teenage years of, will we survive this? all thrown to the wayside when they are gone.  
Those strings are still attached on our end with worry being the thread. The Brave Girls Camp experience made me stronger in facing my fears for my children, helping me to let go of my control over everything, to let the chips fall where they may.  Things happen, life goes on, it is beautiful, it is grand, it is meant to be lived with ALL of our heart and soul.  

From the bottom of my heart, a sincere thank you to the brave girls who helped me to get to this place. You know who you are and your brave souls have been imprinted onto my heart as well as your stories. To the quiet guidance of Melody, Kathy, Patrice, D'wana and the rest of the Brave Girls staff, you are all amazing in bringing your gifts to the table to be shared by others. 
My apologies to those that are reading this that there is a part two to come tomorrow night...late. My flight home was a revelation in and of itself and that little neon light blinking, "this was meant to happen" was working overtime and I have to share. I cannot continue on now, for our youngest (one of our two left at home) came down with a fever and a bad cold today and it is time to tuck him in. 

As always, thank you for reading my musings about life. Writing is very cathartic for me and I am thankful to have a place to do so. I promise that after the next installment, I will get to lighter material for we are neck deep in preparation for the Fall Barn Sale and writing will have to be put on hold for a bit!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Chester County Day is Coming to Willowbrook Farm!

After you read, be sure to check out the link at the bottom to see the article inside the magazine!

I am not sure if I ever told you about how Willowbrook Farm came to be our "labor of love." If you have heard this story before, than please forgive me as I give you a brief synopsis. We were living in the best neighborhood ever, (don't we all?) where our five children could run to and from the neighbors and their friend's houses without accompaniment. They were growing up almost as close as siblings with those friends and we were all having the time of our lives, "growing up"in this fashion. We had one snafu with that scenario and that was our oldest son and his education, in regards to his learning differences. He was not making progress nor reaching his potential at our public school, even with his IEP so after much searching, we found what we felt was a better alternative for his needs. The only problem being, that it was at least a forty five minute commute each way, with no busing. We traversed that distance for three years while we looked at houses that would move us closer or at least close enough to get transportation. We were heartsick with the decision to even begin looking, for we truly loved our neighborhood and our friends who had become as close as family. We decided that in order to make that move and tear our family out from the roots that we all had become entangled in, the new place would have to be pretty special. As our oldest was going through Middle school in his new environment at Hill Top Prep we realized two things. The first being that Hill Top would be the place that he would most likely stay through Graduation, and that with his unique perspective on life and the way he was wired, he was not going to traverse the neighborhood social scene quite like the other kids or at least, not as he did as a little kid. What did he love that he could embroil himself in on a daily basis that might take the place of some of that social existence that is so integral in a teenager's life? Nature and the outdoors. 
This was a kid who could eat, sleep and breathe for the National Audubon Field Guides. Okay, let's add a place where he could eat, sleep and breathe nature AND get us closer to his school, where all of us could thrive and grow. While we were at it, we decided to bring something back into our lives, or at least my life, that had been missing for awhile from our neighborhood track home... history and the old! As a confirmed lover of both and having spent many years of my teenage years living in an old farmhouse, maybe we could find something akin to that?  You know who I drove around Chester and Montgomery Counties with for three long years to try and find just that? My partner in Life's Patina, Chris Stoner, who happened to be a real estate agent. Funny how things work out...hmmm? I will never forget after looking at five houses earlier that day and as she was about to turn into the driveway, she said, "This is the last one and it is something called the Vassar Show House? Have you ever heard of that?"
 Heard of that??????
I had gone on that tour almost every year and my next door neighbor and best friend had just given me tickets to go on the tour with her for my Birthday! I said, "Chris are you crazy? These homes are always outdated elephants that while architecturally beautiful and old,  usually have no working or updated modern necessities...like indoor plumbing, heat or electricity that might not burn the house down...small details." She said, "Come on, I already bought us tickets." We had to buy tickets to see the house?

Bought tickets she did, and as I walked in the front door, I remember vividly thinking to myself...who needs heat, electricity or plumbing? We were pleasantly surprised that all three were not in bad shape. As we walked outside, I remember calling my husband and saying, "Honey, this place speaks to me." That was a joke that we always used after I looked at places. We were adamant that the home we were moving to had to speak to our soul. This one was practically screaming at me. So the rest is "history." We fell in love with a house that keeps us up at night, in many respects, has caused us to work harder than we ever have, in many respects and has fulfilled many a dream. 

We would love to share it with you on this years' Chester County Day House Tour on Saturday, October 4th. We were thrilled to be a featured house in the Chester County Lines Magazine this month and even more excited for Willowbrook Farm to make the cover!

                                               Check out the article for more information

Get your tickets soon, for it sure to be a wonderful tour this year filled with homes and properties that beautify the Chester County landscape.The Life's Patina Barn at Willowbrook Farm will also be open during the tour as well!

Thank you for reading!


Fall into Vintage Barn Sale at Life’s Patina
October 3-5
Preview Party - Oct 2
Chester County Day - Oct 4

Winter Barn Sale
November 14-16

Holiday Open House
December 5-6

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!

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