Tag Archives: new beginnings

Three Years Gone

20 Nov

Today is bittersweet for me. It’s the anniversary of my father’s death, which, 3 years later, is still a painful thing to think about. I know I’m not alone in this pain. My little sister and brother share in it just the same. I hope somewhere, some time, they get to read this and understand that I’m thinking of them and love them to pieces. Luckily, I have a very good reason to be very happy as well: my best friend gave birth to her first son, whom I call Bowser, on this same date two years ago. It’s a strange situation for me. I love Bowser, he’s one of the coolest semi-new humans ever. He gives me reason to smile today,but I miss my dad.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I really realized that even though I haven’t  been deliberately dwelling on the approaching anniversary, it still affects me. It’s painful to deal with, even though it’s not in my conscious thoughts. It’s interesting how depression can sneak its way into your life. Little by little, it puts a shadow over your existence. Before you know it, you’re in a hole. Sometimes that hole is so deep that the sky is nearly invisible. I want people to know that they’re not alone with this.

For this reason, I feel it appropriate to re-visit a post from way back. It’s one of my favorite posts because I believe depression is a topic that is easily brushed aside by many because they don’t understand, and obscured by those affected by it. It’s not something that we can recover from unless we face it. So, I’m shining a light on it once more. I hope it helps.

The following is from Tired of trying, sick of crying. I know I’ve been smiling, but inside I’m dying…

Depression isn’t an easy thing to talk about. It lurks in the darkness of our soul, eating away at our hearts, consuming our will to continue searching for happiness. It’s an invisible ailment that many experience, but few understand. For some, it’s a fast and dramatic response to an event such as the death of a loved one, or a major failure of some sort. But many times, depression has no clear cut cause; there’s no singular traumatic event that starts the seamless progression from disappointment to sadness to depression to hopelessness.  Sometimes, the advancement is so slow and subtle; it goes unrecognized by even the person experiencing it. And therein lies the problem. How can you tell someone that something is wrong, when you yourself don’t know or can’t explain what it is? I may be alone in my stubbornness, but I find it difficult to admit to someone, let alone to myself, that there IS something wrong when I don’t even know what IT is. How am I supposed to ask for help, when I don’t even know what I need?

What we need to do is talk. We need to identify and admit the fact that depression is not only a mental problem. It is a condition that reaches far beyond just being sad. It can affect your appearance, drain you of energy, kill your appetite, and kill your social life, among many other things. If we just continue to hide or ignore that depression is a physical condition as much as a mental one, we’ll just continue to sink lower and lower. We also need to stop surrounding ourselves with people that only add to the sickness. We all know drama mongers. They peddle their crazy to anyone and everyone that will listen. I’m here to tell you, when crazy comes knocking, you don’t have to answer the door.

Depression never affected me as a child or teen. So you can imagine my surprise and serious denial when it hit me in adulthood. Come to find out, I have a predisposition to suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts/tendencies. My mother attempted to end her life as a teenager. My cousin committed suicide when I was in high school. My paternal grandmother committed suicide when my father was a teenager. I have done some research and have found that my Austrian/German decent makes me more likely to make an attempt on my life. For some reason, people from these countries have a high rate of suicide and depression. It’d be easy to look at the statistics and family history and use it as an excuse. I could put the blame on genetics. Who in the world would argue with science and facts?

The problem with accepting that you have a predilection, especially a biological one, for something, is that we often use that as an excuse for giving into it. We let go of our power to the thought that we are destined to be this or suffer from that. Instead of telling ourselves, “yes, I am more susceptible to (insert condition here), but I have the power to avoid it”, we tell ourselves “I am more susceptible to (insert condition here); I don’t have any control in it”. We give the blame away to our genetics (or whatever variable) and in doing so, we give away our power to make real and positive changes in our lives. It’s this negative thinking that perpetuates depression, not our genes. If you think you’re worthless, then guess what? Perception is reality. The amazing thing is that you have the ability to change your perception, and in turn, change reality.

Here comes story time. I’ve talked a little about my father’s death; I think I’ve even mentioned the death of my grandma. But, to illustrate my point a little better, I’m going to tell you the whole story…the big points, anyway….

I met my ex a week before I turned 19. We were married two and a half years later. Even though I was young, I gave it everything I had, and then a little more. But getting little in return, I started to give up. I’d been unhappy for a very long time, and I was tired of being used, tired of being lied to, and tired of waiting. I blamed my husband for the way I felt. I resented him for everything I gave up to support his goals and dreams. I felt worthless because nothing I did for him was ever enough for him to value me as I once thought I’d deserved. Despite the way I felt about the way my marriage was going, we decided at one point that we were going to try to start a family. Wanting to be sure I was healthy enough for a pregnancy, I consulted my doctors. My rheumatologist cautioned me against it, saying that even if the inflammation in my feet from my rheumatoid arthritis was under control (at this point, it was not); I would almost certainly spend at least my third trimester on bed rest. I was 25 years old, and my doctor was telling me I shouldn’t try to have kids? I’m 25 years old; I should be able to get knocked up without the “ok” from a doctor…right?

Already unhappy with where my life was at the time, I received a phone call that would put me over the edge. I left for work one morning, and on the drive, I got a phone call from my supervisor’s boss telling me I was to report to him before I began my shift. My heart sank. I knew this was bad news, I thought I’d be fired, though I had no idea for what. I stood at his desk and he informed me I was being put on administrative leave and ordered me to surrender my badge. On my drive home that morning, my thoughts raced. I had decided that when I arrived home, I was going to take every pill in my bottle of Vicodin, and anything else I had. I got home, went upstairs, grabbed the bottle and popped the first pill in my mouth. I tried to swallow it. I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn’t go down. This was the beginning of what my ex and most everyone else would see as my decline. The truth is, all those little things with my marriage, the lies, the resentment, my health…that was the real beginning, but it was invisible. It wasn’t even until about a year or two before this incident that I had even noticed it myself.

The sad part about that first pill is that not being able to swallow it had very little, if anything, to do with how I valued my life. I never thought, “I can’t do this because I have so much to live for, so many things I still want to do.” As I tried to swallow that pill, I thought about my parents, the tears, them thinking that they failed at something because they weren’t able to save me. I thought about my nieces. I thought about being thought of as too weak to handle what God was dishing out to me. I even thought about my poor pup. I didn’t want to hurt the people I loved. I told my ex what had happened, and asked him to take all my medications and hide them from me. I called my doctor and got an appointment with a shrink who referred me to a program that literally saved my life.

Because of my suicidal thoughts and my attempt, though failed, my only choices were being committed to a mental facility or the Intensive Outpatient Program, or IOP. I chose IOP. Though I am not and never have been an advocate for “group therapy”, I have to say, it worked. After two weeks of talking about the things I’ve been through, how I feel, listening to others, discovering that although the causes of what brought us all to that room were very different, we were all feeling very similarly. I learned that I am not something that is broken and needs fixing. I learned some very important coping skills and started to re-learn simple truths about myself that would ultimately hold the pieces of my heart together when I thought it would fall apart.

The next couple months brought my grand mother’s decline. She was constantly in and out of the hospital. My family, especially my aunt, who was my grandma’s primary caretaker, struggled with the burden of dealing with the impending loss and the day to day wear that caring for stricken loved ones brings about. Finally, we had a family meeting with the doctors who informed us of our choices. My aunt was not ready to let go. She wanted to believe that her mother wanted to keep fighting. Eventually, we all agreed that she should be put on home hospice care.

The night my grandma died, I went out with my cousins. I got drunker than I’d ever been, at that point. I fell apart. I’d never cried harder or for such a long time. Her funeral was the most beautiful service I’d ever been to. (I’ve been to quite a few) She was buried next to my grandpa, who’d passed away a few years earlier. At the graveside service, someone had booked a mariachi band to play songs that my grandpa used to sing to his wife. It was amazing.

The next day, my phone rang. It was my dad, and he was telling me that he has cancer. Stage 4 cancer to boot. For those who aren’t familiar with cancer, stage 4 means that the cancer is very advanced and has metastasized to other organ(s). In the subsequent months, I flew back and forth from my home in southern California to northern Washington, when my father lived. In the midst of this, I was ultimately fired from my job. Meanwhile, I helped re-model the house, I cooked, I cleaned, I took my father to many of his appointments. He had a prognosis of 2 years. The cancer took him in 3 months.

Two weeks before he died, I decided to make a book for my dad. I wanted to have him write down stories about himself, about growing up, about life. I had so many questions to ask him. I worked hard on that book, trying to make it perfect. Unfortunately, by the time I was done with it, he was no longer speaking, and barely moving. I ended up with a very beautiful, but very empty book.

If you’ve noticed anything in my posts, you’ve probably noticed my propensity to relating my life to music. Today is no different. As it turns out, there is a line from a Social Distortion song that is cold hard fact. Mike Ness sings, “Reach for the sky ’cause tomorrow may never come” (By the way, that song is called Reach for the Sky.) I decided that this empty book was not going to be the story of my life.  Losing my father so quickly prompted me (after a great deal of wallowing in grief and self-pity) to evaluate my life and the way I was living it.

The fact is that it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to put the blame for our disappointments and misery on everything and everyone around us. What’s not easy is taking a look in the mirror and realize that we are the only thing standing between us and bliss. It’s not easy taking responsibility for our unhappiness and depression. The way I felt about my life and my marriage was no one’s fault but my own. As soon as I took ownership of that fact, I got my power back.  I decided that I can’t wait for happiness. It’s not just going to walk up to me one day on the street. I have to actively seek it. My book will not be blank, it’s going to be filled with all the awesome things I am going to do, all the adventures I’m going to take on. I’ve been doing all the things that made me who I am. I’ve been doing all the things that make me happy, all the way down to my shoes.

I also began to understand that everything, and I mean everything, happens for a reason. If I had not been married to my ex, I would not have come to understand how little I actually loved myself. If I had not ended up with rheumatoid arthritis, I probably would have ended up with children with a man that I did not love, a man who didn’t truly love me. My suicide attempt led to me getting the help I really needed. If I hadn’t gone though the Intensive Outpatient Program, I wouldn’t have learned the tools that would later keep me from spinning out of control with the subsequent tragedies of losing my grandmother and my father. If I hadn’t been put on administrative leave, I would not have been able to spend so much time with my father before he passed away. If my father hadn’t been taken so swiftly, I probably would not have had the courage to finally take my life into my own hands. I would have continued being miserable, and blaming my ex for it. Like I said, perception is reality. My reality is a happy one, because I perceive it to be.

While I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time, I still continue to struggle with depression. I’m not going to lie. There are days that I feel just like vanilla ice cream: white, plain, nothing special. But then, I Googled vanilla, and I learned that vanilla is actually one of the most complex flavors on the planet (another scientific fact). So, while I may just be feeling like vanilla, I am actually quite special. This gives me hope that though I’ve been battered by storms, I’m not quite destroyed. Little by little, I begin to strengthen and bloom again.


Happeh Happeh Happeh (Issue No. 2)

10 Sep

I recently read Juicy Joy by Lisa McCourt and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Both excellent reads on the subject of happiness, I highly recommend them. They’ve given me a bit more focus in my life, as I continue my quest for a life that thrills me. Even though I am happier than I have been in a very long time, I know that there are always thing that can be done better. Just like there’s always room for Jello, there is also always room for improvement. SO…I’m beginning this research project, inspired by these books, as a quest to pin point the little things that might occasionally cause a little strife, and decide how to change them.

As I start this project, I am taking some time to identify some important lessons I’ve learned over the years. I am also going to identify  aspects of my life that need improvement, as well as ways that I can actually implement these improvements.

First step, what have I learned so far:

  1. I am in total control of the way I feel, the way I view myself, and the way I react to certain situations or events.
  • I make the decision to give that power/control away each time someone/thing causes me to feel unhappy or bad about myself.
  • I have the power to change the way I perceive things and in doing so, I have the power to  change the way they affect me.

       2.     Harboring hate or negative feelings doesn’t hurt anyone but myself.

  • Hatred and negativity are not constructive. They won’t change anyone’s behavior. Allowing these feelings and types of thoughts is another way of giving your power away.

       3.     I can’t control everything.

  • I can’t force anyone to see or do things my way. I need to accept that even though it would be nice for everything to be done exactly as I would have done, I am much less stressed and much happier just accepting that some people thing and do things differently.

       4.     Life isn’t about finding comfort and sticking with it.

  • Adventures, no matter how big or small, are the key to a happy life.

       5.     Take risks.

  • You never know how something is going to turn out. But if you take a risk, at least you won’t be left wondering if maybe it could’ve been something really great.

       6.     Travel as often as you can.

  • This one is directly related to adventures.
  • What good is that PTO doing you if you’re not taking it?
  • It gets more and more difficult to travel (for most) as we get older. Obligations, careers, children…these things make traveling more complicated. If I could do it over, I would have tried a semester (or two) of college abroad. Unfortunately, the ship has sailed on that one. So instead, I promise myself I will make the extra effort to get away as often as I can.

       7.     Take good care of your skin, and for the love of everything good, don’t touch your face! (unless you’re washing/moisturizing)

  • Dirty hands on your face = zits. Seriously. Even the natural oils on your hands can cause issues. So just keep your hands away from that pretty mug.
  • Forget spending a ton of money on injections, peels, and lifts. Just take care of your skin. Try not to smoke, take it easy on the boozing (drink water more often) and get your beauty rest. You’d be amazed at how big of a difference these changes will make in your appearance. Also, make sure you wash off your makeup before bed time and use moisturizer. If you throw in an occasional scrub or mask, all the better.

       8.     Forgiveness isn’t easy.

  • It’s real hard to let someone who did you wrong off the hook, so to speak. But instead of looking at forgiveness as absolving the person of their actions, try looking at it as a gift you’re giving yourself (getting rid of negative emotional baggage and finally allowing people who belong in your past stay in the past)

       9.     Be yourself, no matter what.

  • Don’t try to change who you are to fit someone’s expectations. You weren’t created to hold back your gifts just because it makes someone else uncomfortable. You were made to pass your gifts along.

       10.    Money isn’t everything.

  • True, money does make the world go round. But like I mentioned a minute ago about what good is that PTO doing you if you’re not taking it…the same goes with money. I’m not going to say it isn’t prudent to build up an emergency fund, to have a cushion in the event you lose your job. It is. And I highly recommend it, if you can. But do you really need a massive savings account if its acquired at the expense of your personal life? Everyone tells us to save now so we don’t have to worry about expenses when we retire. Who says we’re going to make it that long? Not to sound morbid, but tomorrow is a gift, not a promise. Great, your next of kin will be most appreciative enjoying the duckets you stowed away, working your ass off, and sacrificing your personal time for. All I’m saying is don’t put money and work above your happiness. I’ve never heard of anyone saying, “Gee, I really wish I would have worked more”.

Happeh Happeh Happeh (Issue No. 1)

10 Sep

The purpose of todays post and pretty much all my posts is to get you thinking. I want you to think about your life: the way you’re living it and what you’re doing to pursue happiness. Are the choices you’re making made because they will result in happiness or are they made out of convenience? It’s easy to keep your head down and move forward without any real scrutiny. It’s certainly easier to cope with unhappiness or lack of fulfillment when you’re not thinking about it. Wake up!  It’s time to take control of the wheel, my friends. Sure, sometimes heading out on a road trip without a map is exciting. It’s called adventure. But even a spontaneous trip starts with a general idea of what you wanna see or what you wanna do. There’s a general theme driving the adventure, be it the beach, national parks, or who can find the most bizarre landmark. The general theme driving your life should be happiness. Going through life complacent, not considering where you’re headed or what you’re after is the fastest way to wake up at (insert age here) with a slew of regrets. You need to think. Incidently, it’s the whole purpose behind being blessed with the capacity to reason.

Speaking of reasoning, have you ever stopped and taken inventory of what brings you happiness? If you haven’t, I highly suggest that you do, and do it often. The things that bring happiness change regularly, just like everything else in life. Sometimes a long weekend partying with good friends is what makes your heart smile. Other times, it’s the satisfaction of finally finishing that painting that you started in high school that you’ve been meaning to get to for a dozen or so years that does it for you. If you’re not constantly considering what makes you happy, you’ll miss those changes and find yourself chasing hollow dreams, winding up unfulfilled.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: if you don’t like something in your life, change it. Sure, that’s a simplified statement, and certainly easier said than done, but at the same time, it is literally that simple. It’s a matter of thinking about your  life and the situation situation you find yourself in and deciding it’s not what you want. You need to embrace the fact that your happiness is in your own hands, and is often just a decision (albeit sometimes a difficult decision) away.

To illustrate this point, I’ll use myself as opposed to embarrassing someone I know or lying to you good people by making up a fake story. I was the same person from just before I turned 19 until our divorce at age 27. The idea of having children with him terrified me. Buying a home with him terrified me. A normal person would say to them self “hey self, these events are pretty fundamental to marriage, if they scare you, maybe this isn’t the person for you”.  I didn’t trust my instincts about the lies or the cheating. I continued on unhappy, my anger and resentment mounting for years. I blamed him for the way I felt. I really felt, down to my shoes, that he was the sole person to blame. And he was to blame. To do the kinds of things he did while we were together is unacceptable without a doubt. But who’s the girl with two thumbs and stuck around through it all? That’s right, this girl. Ultimately, I was the only one that can be held to answer for my profound unhappiness. I was lost. I had given so much to support his dreams that I forgot who I was as an individual. I turned my back on the things that truly brought happiness to my life and lost myself. In my defense, and I feel like this is a big obstacle for many people which is why I’m airing out this laundry, a divorce would mean my life would be changed so completely, it’d be unrecognizable. We’d have to figure out what to do with all our stuff, the house would need to be disposed of, I’d have to get a new job, and probably give up my medical benefits (which, with RA, is beyond a huge deal) because we worked at the same place, not to mention climatize myself to a single  (and much smaller income). I am happy to report that though I was lost, now I am found. Mind you, it took some catastrophically major events to open my eyes. It was one of the scariest decisions I ever made, but big pay offs rarely come easily.

My intent is to open your eyes. Don’t let it come down to a life altering or tragic event that finally wakes you up and makes you realize that happiness cannot wait. It will not. It’ll pass you by like all those cactuses  on the drive to Vegas. No one can stop the car but you.

Happeh Happeh Happeh

10 Sep

If you’ve ever noticed a common thread running through any of my posts, it’s happiness. For several months, I’ve had so much on my mind and in my heart. I’ve not been able to get it written down in any comprehensible way for the life of me. Over and over, I type, I write, I talk to myself, trying to get it all out. It dawned on me this morning while I was in the bath tub before heading to work (I wanted to bathe but not get my hair wet….aaaand I maaay have been just a little  too lazy to accomplish that whilst standing up. Don’t judge me) that perhaps i’ve been a little too ambitious by attempting to fit all of my thoughts into a single post.

So now we embark on what has evolved into a journey. At this point, I don’t know how long it’ll take, as I have only just made the decition to spread out my thoughts across several posts this morning. I ask that you stick with me and keep your minds and hearts open.


10 Oct

I don’t have any children. A good friend of mine got knocked up and so we began discussing options for nursery decor. The usual came up: Baby Animals, Zoo, etc… I had an idea. Why spend money decorating a room that the baby will quickly out grow? The idea we all settled on was Super Mario Bros. We all love parkin’ our rears on the big comfy couch to play for hours. Sure, I suck big time at Mario Kart, but who cares?

Anyway, being the best friend, I set out to plan the shower. Unfortunately, planning a baby shower and nursery decor with a theme like this is not easy. Things are not, how you say, ready-made and on the shelf at your local Babies-R-Us.

No anything we found was a little too geared for much older children. But that didn’t stop us. Despite the challenge of basically creating everything custom by hand, we refused to be constrained by the meager, run-of-the mill standard offered by baby stores. We hopped right out of that box for this week’s Wreck!

Now, I’m not going to go through these photos and give detailed step by step instructions. That would defeat the purpose of this Wreck.  I want you all to be inspired to not be pigeonholed into a certain way of thinking. After all, that’s why we Wreck in the first place, right? Right. If you would like any information or tips on how these things were constructed and how you might be able to go about doing something similar, I would be very happy to guide you and answer any questions. Just leave me a comment at the end of this post.


The Invitations

I’d just like to add a couple small side notes on these invitations…First, aside from everything excluding the type is hand-made. The triangular shading on those hills were done in sharpie. For 35 invites. 7 lime green sharpies later….

Finally done.

The Shower Decor, etc.

Italian Cream Soda Bar. Genius. Really, if you ever have an Italian themed party, I highly suggest it.

Arts & Crafts time. I set up a table for the guests to decorate onesies. Onesies, puffy paint and iron-ons provided.

The result: Pure Gold.


Two things here. My mommy made the bumper. She created that wonderful brick pattern and I love her for it. The quilt is my baby. fabric, ribbon and puffy paint (for the faces on the clouds).

I’d like to direct your attention to the bricks on the wall. My pregnant friend did a really great job!

As you can see from the center  of this mobile, it used to have a jungle animal theme. My friend purchased this on Craigslist and I went to work making the characters our of felt, floss and puffy paint…converting it into a SMB masterpiece. (I later switched out the picture for a Mario one)

Everything you see on the wall was hand-made by us.

She even added her own black-out curtains to match  the walls and quilt.

So you can see, with a little creativity and a whole lot of stubbornness, you can create the nursery you’ve always dreamed of. You don’t have to settle for what the stores have all picked out for you.

I sure hope that you enjoyed the Wreck, and I hope it sparks just a little bit of imagination in your life.

MAKIN’ IT MONDAYS (Issue 1, Part 3)

2 Jul

Welcome back!! I’m so happy that you all made it back! Now we continue on our journey of self discovery and emotional growth. Wait, that’s not right….

Okay, I’ve got my head on straight now. Carpentry is what we’re working on today, right? Ooooooookay, let’s get on with it, shall we?

Above you can see that I purchased my supplies. Originally, I was going to build with oak. Boy, that would have been a mistake. Not only is it on the expensive side, but it’s also pretty much twice as heavy as pine…so pine it is!

Original plans also included square dimensions. The window measured 44″ x 17″. So I was going to make the coffee table 44″ x 44″. Luckily, my best friend talked me off of that ledge. I settled on 44″ x 34″. Thank goodness, because this sucker is heavy enough as it is.

So having had some sense talked into my silly head, I set forth to conquer my fear of using a saw. Don’t ask me why, but using power tools has always made me nervous. But regardless, I’m gonna get over it so I can finish this project. With some basic instruction on how to properly use the saws and nail gun, I went full steam ahead….

So here you can see that the wood is cut and the basic construction has begun. I’m thrilled to report that all my limbs and digits are intact. No humans or animals were harmed in the construction of this piece of furniture. I’m sure my mother appreciates that too. Love you momma!

Because of the weight of the coffee table itself and the stress it will undoubtedly endure in the coming years, it was prudent to reinforce wherever possible.

The whole thing was looking pretty plain. To me, it was lacking a little...je ne sais quoi, as the French say. So to punch it up a bit,  I added a pretty bit of decorative border around the top and the bottom.

Here’s the main table, all constructed. I placed the window and lid on temporarily to give you wonderful people a better idea of the direction this project is headed.

Now, below you’ll see glimpses of the almost finished table.

I’m so excited to show you!!

Don’t get too sad…there’s still more to see. Next week I’ll be unveiling the whole enchilada!! The  suspense is killing me!!

MAKIN’ IT MONDAYS (Issue No. 1, Part 2)

25 Jun

It’s Monday, and that means it’s time for the next installment of Makin’ It Mondays!! Please, please, contain your excitement.

I know this second part of Issue No. 1 has been a long time coming, please forgive the tardiness. (my little brother says I can’t be on time for anything to save my dang life…but what can I say?)

These are some better photos of the progress I made in my first installment. If you’d like to refresh your memory of this project, you can click here. In this photo, you can see that the window is in fact pink and yellow…not red and yellow

Okay, so I didn’t quite get the old stain off completely…but like my dad used to say, it’s good enough for government work.

Now, here are the supplies I’m using for the next step. The most important of these, aside from the stain, of course, is the gloves. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get stain on your skin, regardless of any protection you may use…but gloves will save you from a good portion of it. To illustrate the importance of gloves, let me paint a picture for you with a little story time…

Not too long ago, I had a neighbor who found an old coffee table from about the 1970s. She bought it for something silly like $5, thinking, “oh hey, I’ll just stain this thing to match the rest of my furniture and everything will be peaches and cream”. Well, bless her heart, she went out and bought a can of stain and some rags. Later that day, she came knocking on my door, covered halfway up her forearms with ebony stain. She was in tears because she didn’t know that she was supposed to wear gloves. She had tried soap and even rubbing alcohol, all to no avail. Being the good neighbor girl that I am, I did my very best to resist the “well, sweetie, the can says stain…what did you think it was going to do to your skin” reflex. You might appreciate how difficult this was for a smart ass like me, if you knew me personally, but unfortunately, you don’t. So let’s just say, it was the most difficult thing I did that week…considering I was a corrections officer in a men’s facility at the time, that’s saying a lot. Anyway, I grabbed a huge bag of cotton balls and every ounce of nail polish remover I owned (which is more than you might imagine…I like nail polish…a lot. As a matter of fact, I’ve been banned from buying anymore. A situation not unlike my sticker addiction). As she did her best to scrub up, I had her show me the project she was working on. It was at this moment that I realized that this story has two lessons to be learned: 1. always protect your hands/skin when working with stain and 2. when staining wood that has already been finished (meaning it’s already stained and/or laquered) always sand it well before applying new stain. You see, all of the stain that my well-meaning neighbor applied to her coffee table just kind of pooled unevenly on top of the varnish that it came with, as opposed to soaking into the wood. Tsk, tsk. What a shame.

So now, boys and girls, we should all understand that we should always wear gloves when working with stain and always sand before applying said stain. Now, moving on…

 Be sure to grab one of those stirry stick thingies. Stain usually sits on the shelf for a long time and settles so it needs to be stirred very well before using it.

Yes, This is a sock. Trust me on this. Don’t waste your money on a fancy sponge.

Oh, I’d like to point out that I am, in fact, wearing gloves under this sock. (And yes, I did still manage to get stain on myself. I’m just professional like that.)

Here are a couple photos of the frame after the first coat of stain.

Sure, the stain looked nice, I decided the look I was going for was something a little more broken in. What to do, what to do…


So, you can see here, I had quite a bit of fun scraping and gouging. I’ll admit, it doesn’t look great here, but have faith my young padawans. It will look much better when I re-stain it.

 See? What did I tell you? Much better.

So now I have the window complete. Next step will be to draw up plans for the rest of the coffee table, find supplies, and start assembly. I’d like to mention again, that I’m no carpenter. Just an average girl who has no experience with saws or really any other power tools aside from a drill. Luckily my besties have the tools, I just need to learn to use them. Should be simple, right? Well, stay tuned for part  3 next week where you’ll see how well…or badly the power tool session goes. Wish me luck!!

MAKIN’ IT MONDAYS (Issue No. 1, Part 1)

18 Apr

Yes Genius, it is Wednesday. I’m aware. But I’m so excited about this project, that I just can’t wait. I am dedicating Mondays to makin’ stuff. To give you an idea of what I mean, I’m giving you a sneak peak to my new tradition to hold you over ’til tomorrow when I post this week’s Wreck…

I am so happy…I want to shout it from the top of a mountain. On second thought, maybe I’ll just stand on my bed instead. Seems less dangerous that way.

What am I shouting? Well,  I fell in love…with a piece of furniture. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m nuts, I know this (and so should you by now). But seriously, I fell hard for a antique-looking trunk/coffee table. I found it on Anthropologie’s website, and for any of you that have ever gawked at browsed their store, you know how dangerous that can be. Gorgeous wares, but ridiculous prices. Needless to say, I didn’t spend a grand for a coffee table. But the love is still there. I can’t get the idea out of my head. So what do I do? I concoct a crazy plan to build one myself.

I’d like to preface this project by saying three words: I’m no carpenter.

That being said, you may be wondering why you’re looking at photos of an old beat up window. What does a window have anything to do with making a trunk to use as a coffee table?

I’m so happy you asked! You see, what had happened was I went to a store called Architectural Salvage here in my ‘hood (San Diego). The plan was to attempt to find some reclaimed/vintage lumber that I could use to build this dream of mine. Although I would have loved to dismantle some of the wooden gates and doors to use for the trunk, it would have been prohibitively expensive ($300+ for a door).

The beauty of my brain, especially in places like Architectural Salvage, is that I don’t just see things for what they are. I see things for their potential. I see what I could create with seemingly random items.  As I continued my adventure, I came across piles of old leaded windows. In a stroke of genius (or insanity, I haven’t quite decided), I decided that I would use one of these windows as the lid of my new trunk.

After about an hour of combing the store, I settled on this little gem. Yeah, she’s a little worn. A little neglected, sure. Nothing a little TLC couldn’t take care of. Since purchasing this piece, I’ve cleaned the glass, I’ve also scraped the paint off the frame and sanded both sides down to bare wood.

I noticed that while the window frame itself is nice and sturdy, the glass part is a bit weak. Since this is a vintage piece, the glass is pieced together with lead. (as opposed to the glass being one solid piece with leading added for decoration) With the rowdy people I tend to have in my home, not to mention the total clutz I am, I decided that if this window was going to serve as part of the lid, it needed reinforcement. After some research, I found a product that would give me the strength without covering up that beautiful glass. I’ll be using clear polyester casting resin. If you’re interested, you can check it out online on the Blick Art Supply website.

Now that I have a general idea of where this project is headed, I proceeded with the design. The outside of the trunk will be stained to match the rest of my furniture, while all the inside parts will be painted with color enamel.

I taped off the window and painted the side of the frame that will face the inside. While I toyed with the idea of painting the entire trunk, I ultimately decided against it. Paint can crack and scratch. And with the wear this trunk is gonna get, I don’t see paint lasting too long. But since I’m crazy for color (among other things) I didn’t want to scrap the idea altogether. I decided to compromise. I thought it would be an interesting touch to have the color inside instead. Problem solved.

After finishing the frame, my little brother had the idea of painting the lead. While I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of having to tape all of the glass, I decided, go big or go home. So I’m giving it a shot…of color. Pink to be exact. (Forgive me for the photo, it definitely looks red here, but I assure you, it is not. Not that I have anything against red. My couch is solid red…and more red would just be silly.)

I will be applying a couple more coats of pink to the lead, then I’ll be staining the other side along with the edges. Once this is all dry, I’ll be able to work on reinforcing the glass with the casting resin I mentioned earlier.

Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to this project, and I intend to show you every step of my adventure!

As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that while I was sanding the frame, I tried using those fancy sanding blocks that Home Depot carries. They look a lot like a sponge; they’re kind of squishy but it has a gritty coating. I really wanted to like this product. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for this project. I think that there was just too much “give” because of its squishyness to really get the job done. So I returned to the Depot and purchased good old-fashioned sandpaper. Before I left, I headed to the lumber department and found a little piece of scrapped 2×4 to use as a sanding block. I stapled the paper to the block and it worked beautifully, with much less effort. My hands thanked me.

So Fresh and So Fresh and So Clean Clean….(ain’t nobody as dope as me)

4 Apr

I know it’s Wednesday and you all must be wondering where this week’s Wreck is. Well, I’m interrupting my previously scheduled Wreck in celebration of a very special occasion.

It happens to be Lent. It is the commemoration of the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert, being tempted by Satan. For us, it is the season of sacrifice, charity, fasting, atonement and forgiveness. Lent gives us a fresh start, spiritually, and is the foundation for positive growth. “Cleaning” and “de-cluttering” the soul and spirit is not always easy. It can be painful, confronting your past transgressions and mistakes. Airing out those skeletons can come with consequences. There are times that even with forgiveness, relationships cannot be saved once the truth is brought to light. I think this is one of the hardest parts of the season. I also know, however, that without this season of atonement and forgiveness, we cannot grow and become the happy people that we are meant to be.

I’ve thought for a long time that life has a funny way of placing things, situations or people in your path at the exact moment you need them. Whether it’s an opportunity to exercise your ability to forgive, or to love, or maybe it’s an opportunity to understand what it really means to have faith and perseverance–it’s a message meant to help you grow. The reason I mention this is because I’ve just been reading a manuscript for a book called Through the Eyes of Another by Karen Noe. I will be posting a review for the book in the coming weeks, but for now, the premise of the book is to receive your “Life Review” before making your transition from this world to the next  (or whatever you believe lies after life) by writing letters. Though the topic might seem strange and arbitrary, it turned out to be a very inspiring book. It encourages the reader to write letters to various family and  loved ones, telling them why and how much you care about them, and acknowledge the things that you are sorry about, ways you’ve hurt them or caused pain. The next part is apologizing for the things that you’ve done. The purpose of these letters, more than anything are meant for emotional and spiritual healing. In my opinion, I can’t think of anything better that could have been put in my path to bring my attention to the fact that, while I have not had soda like I promised on Ash Wednesday, I have kind of neglected the whole contrition and atonement part of Lent.

Deep down, we all know deep down that these letters do need to be written or these conversations need to be had. We don’t reach out to those we love and those who love us to tell them how much they mean to us. We don’t tell people enough that we are blessed to have them in our lives. We don’t see clearly how our actions have caused hurt or pain in other lives. We certainly don’t always apologize for causing that hurt. God has given us this season as an opportunity to become better people, to be a little more like his Son. It’s not about Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday,  Easter Sunday, hardboiled eggs or even delicious ham. It’s about His only Son sacrificing his own purely innocent life for us sinners to have life eternal. All that’s requested of us is to live our lives with love, humility, honesty. He doesn’t even care that we all commit sins daily. Contrition and repentance is the key. Doesn’t sound like such a hard thing to do. Right?

Tomorrow isn’t going to be a better day to let those people in your life know that you love them. Next week could very well be too late to make amends with that friend you’ve neglected. Today is the day. Make it one that your Father can be proud of.



8 Mar

Horray!! It’s Wednesday again! (Yes I know this post is a little bit late, gimme a break) That means it’s time to trash pre-conceived ideas of how things should be done. So lets get to it!

It’s just about spring cleaning time, and that means it’s time to clear the cobwebs and clutter: out with the old and in with the new. Right? Well, If you’re anything like me, you’re not swimming in a sea of extra cash to be replacing a bunch of stuff around the house, That’s where this week’s Wreck it Wednesday comes in awfully handy.

Today, we’re gonna take a fresh look at some not so fresh decor. If you’re like me, you have things hanging around that you’ve thought of tossing out the door. I say, “Nay, nay!” Wait just one hot minute. For just a few bucks, you can completely change your decor from outdated to outstanding.

Between a divorce, a move and a new job in the last year, I have cleared a great deal of the riff-raff out of my home. But these three amigos for some reason have dodged my “goodwill drafts” time after time. I honestly don’t even recall how they made it into my life to begin with. I have been staring at these vases for what has easily been 2 years, plotting their fate. Today, They are finally getting the cosmetic surgery they need to fit into the society that is my tiny apartment.  I suggest you take a look around your house, clear the clutter and figure out how to make what you have left into something you love.

Now that we have our facelift subjects…we need to consider how these items can be transformed to feel more at home, in our home. I decided to color them happy, which can be done for a few dollars with a can of spray paint. The awesome thing about spray paint, besides being inexpensive, is not only does it come in super sweet colors and finishes, but it also comes in textures. This gives a fairly substantial array of choices and options to redecorate with the things you already own.

Apply an even coat of primer first.

Once the primer is dry, apply paint....evenly, duh.

Apply a second coat, if needed. Evenly, duh.

Allow to dry completely before applying a second coat...and before attempting to pick up/move the object.

Yes, I could send these little gems to Misfit Island (my stash of crap I intend to garage sale…someday, in the next 50 years or so). But it’s so sad to see these treasures being unutilized or sold at rock bottom prices just because their colors don’t quite fit in anymore. Why should I get rid of them, just to go out an spend more money, duckets I don’t have, mind you, on shiny new vases?

Well, here you have it: my pretty “new” vases, and it cost me less than $10. I call that a win for the bargain decorator. You’re welcome.

Okay, I'm sure you all are noticing my sloppy handiwork here, with the drippy paint. I will have you know that it was done on purpose. Call it art, I guess...but that's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it. Uh huh, uh huh. To each their own.

Here’s a nice little tip: if you don’t have vases, and would like to have some, you could go to Walmart and buy a case of mason jars for super cheap and do this same project. Presto change-o. Oh and if you’re sloppy with your painting like me, never fear. Nail polish remover works wonder on taking that rogue paint off your skin.

I hope you all enjoyed this week’s Wreck. Next week, we talk bacon. You don’t even know.