Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Absolutely nothing. You?

The last week of summer.

How fun.

And by fun, I mean completely boring.

The last few days have featured boat loads of nothing. We have done all of the summer things we cared to do and yet, the summer yawns on like the last guy at a party who can't take a hint.

When I am bored I become incapable of doing anything sensible.

Write lesson plans? Why bother, I have weeks before we start school.

Laundry? Please. I can do it tomorrow.

Read trashy detective novels and eat ice cream while the children rot their brains watching television? Sounds grand!

The problem with having this much free time is that I start to think about my hair too much. Should I cut it? Continue to grow it? Is it living up to its hair potential?

It's too hot to tidy the attic and the basement holds no thrills.

No, we must simply live each day to its end so that we might arrive in the fall.

The air will cool, our lessons will begin.

Until then, we will drift along aimlessly killing time in the Summer Doldrums.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Fiestaware Mojo...

Sometimes I get lucky. Seriously.

Most of the time I slog through the junk stores and find nothing but last years faded Kmart tee shirts and flowered pfaltzgraff from 1988.

Then there are days like today when the junk bounty is abundant.

Lily, Rebecca and I went to Urban Renewals to look for some pants for Lily and a dress for me to wear to a fancy schmancy wedding. While there it seemed logical to check out the housewares, you know, just in case there was something that needed me to buy it.

Thank god I did!

I found one of these,

One of these,

And one of these!

The yellow one and the orange one were in a bag of miscellaneous mugs for .99. The turquoise one was .99.

I was thrilled. I love Fiestaware, but it's too expensive to buy new.

After Urban Renewals, Lily was being a pain in the butt difficult so we brought her home. Then Rebecca and I headed out to Global Thrift. Lily still needed pants and I still needed a fancy dress.

We walked in and I went to the housewares table where, you guessed it, there was more Fiestaware waiting for me.

Six of these bread and butter plates.

There were also a few turquoise saucers and three dinner plates, but I passed those up. I have learned from experience that three plates are a burden. It's got to be four or nothing.

I was reeling from my good fortune when I spied with my little eye something yellow, in fact, I spied four something yellows for .99 each.

More yellow mugs! It was crazy- like a glorious dream of junk and joy.

But people, it was not over yet!

I also found this matching creamer for .99.

Finally I spotted this bit of Mccoy pottery for 1.99.

The icing on the junk cake was a Lauren gown I found for the wedding for a whopping 8.49!

Junk, you are my one true love.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The library hallway solution...

A few weeks ago I was lamenting that I have no place to put extra boxes of tissues and that Rebecca and Lily's rooms were overcrowded with books.

This made very cranky. It also got me thinking about solutions. I love solutions. Solutions are like Bobby Goren. Just thinking about them makes me happy.

This morning I woke up with a plan. Plans make me swoon.

It was a three four pronged plan.

Prong One: Get as many books out of the kids rooms as possible.

Prong Two: Remove two large bookcases from Lily's room and move them into the hallway. Move two of Rebecca's bookcases into the hallway as well.

Prong Three: Create a library hallway and free up space in both kids rooms.

Unexpected Prong Four: Move hallway buffet downstairs and place behind couch.

This job was a doozy let me tell you. The amount of items which were moved today is astounding.

The hallway used to look like this.

This is how is looked with the new bookcases, mostly empty and full of promise.

After hours of moving books around I arrived at this.

Can you tell that we are a family of readers? There are still some books in the kids rooms, but it's a far more manageable quantity.

In my ideal world I would have a proper schoolroom, but I confess that I love the challenge of finding new ways to use my space. I am especially happy that I achieved this result with items that I already own. Repurposing is my life.

The buffet provided some unexpected joy when I moved it downstairs.

I like how it anchors the couch.

We are so ready for fall now. The house is tidy, our curriculum is in place and I took out our sweaters. Bring it on!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An important household dilemma...

I have a very dear friend Amy who I shall not name in the interest of privacy.

This friend had a situation arise in her house today.

One of her cats dragged a half dead bird into the house and deposited it at her feet on a rug.

Now, you know that my experience with birds is mostly related to the variety who like to wedge themselves into the bathroom exhaust vent and die whenever my husband has gone of of town.

Luckily, this does not prevent me from having an opinion on the proper handling of birds who are only half dead and not yet brimming with maggots and rot. 

My solution would be to scoop up the bird and pop him in the freezer for a bit. He would get cold, then sleepy and then die whilst dreaming of being in my exhaust vent. Once he is frozen and all the way dead he can be tossed into the trash or given a proper burial depending upon your level of avian devotion.

Amy chose a different route, which I will not share, though perhaps she will in the comments.

My question dear readers, is how do you handle nearly dead animals in your home?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The art of weirdos...

You know my kids are weirdos. I mean, I feel like this is a topic which we have covered pretty thoroughly here at Shiny Red Houses. One has a teddy bear who tries to pick up chicks. The other one lives in a fairly permanent imaginary world occupied by Harry Potter and cute kitties.

Sometimes though I like to offer the proof of their weirdness. Today that proof comes in the form of Shiny Red Houses: Weird Art By My Children.

Why do tigers feature so heavily in Lily's work? I have no idea. Why is there an unhappy tiger underneath an angry blue head? I have no idea.

My children don't work in realism. Weird is their world.

I have no idea where they get it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Spray Paint! Fabric! Cup Hooks! Oh My!

You ever have one of those days where your eight year old comes home from a sleep over party at 9:30am and announces that she stayed up until 2am? And hearing that information, just the act of that knowledge passing through your ears and into your brain makes you want to get back into bed and hide because you know the ugly which will emerge from said child?

Me too! As a matter of fact, that exact scenario played out this morning. At first I sucked my thumb and whimpered. Then I came up with a solution.

TV all day long! Brilliant!

Can I just take this moment to make a plea to the parents of my kid's friends and beg them to never have sleepovers? Or just don't tell Lily. She has been a weepy mess all day and that was with eight hours of television to distract her from a full onslaught of exhausted tyranny.

Once I had the children plugged into the TV and I had stopped crying I decided to try to get a few things done that have been on my list for a while.

I garbage picked this chair a few weeks ago. It was just sitting out on the curb like a damsel in distress awaiting rescue.

Good lines. Ugly seat. Great potential.

Thank god for spray paint. Here it is getting ready for its beauty treatment.

I chose this fabric for the chair seat. I used my staple gun to attach it.

Three tools I cannot live without: glue gun, staple gun and drill.

It took two cans of high gloss spray paint.

Not bad huh? The whole project cost about $15. The moral of the story? Don't be too proud to pick through your neighbors trash.

While the paint was drying on the chair I decided that it was high time to hang up a chandelier.

I found this old chandelier while out junking about five years ago. It gets moved around the house quite a bit, but my vision has been to hang it on the porch. I considered putting electric candles in it and doing it all proper, but it seemed hard. And expensive. So I improvised with fairy lights. First I wrapped white fairy lights all around the chandelier. Then through the magic of a sturdy cup hook, an S hook and some cheap white chain I made some lighting magic!

It's so satisfying to get these projects done. Neither took very long to do, but felt like much bigger projects than they really were.

The most satisfying part of my day? Getting Lily into bed at 7:30.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Putting an end to the stopping...

I did two cartwheels today.

It was a strange thing. I was walking along with Lily on our dog walk and Lily was a cartwheeling fiend. She could not stop- she was a blur of limbs and torso and hair again and again.

It was as if she had lost the ability to move in other ways and was left with only the cartwheel to carry her to her destination.

Watching her I realized that I too knew how to cartwheel, though it had been decades since my last cartwheel. The thing about cartwheeling is that you don't know you are doing your last cartwheel until long after you've done it.

I did not one day decide to never cartwheel again.

I just stopped. Or forgot. And then the stopping and forgetting continued.

So today I did a cartwheel and upon surviving, I decided to celebrate my survival by doing another one.

After that it seemed prudent not to push it.

But I can promise you that that I have put an end to the stopping.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Squalor, Mail and Junk Miracles...

I cleaned my house all day long. Every room. Every corner. Every bit of horror.

You know what part of the problem is? I have no closets. After spending a week at my dads house where there is at least one closet in every room and in most rooms, two closets, I cannot but help but feel horribly deprived at my lack of any real closets. For example, I have no place to store four extra boxes of tissues. I have to creatively find places for things and when space is this oddly allocated, disaster is bound to strike.

My other household problem is not exactly a problem, per se, more of a conundrum. My children, Rebecca particularly, do not have a lot of toys. The thing which they do have and which is completely out of hand, is books.

They are everywhere. Rebecca has eight shelves of books. Warrior Kitty, Harry Potter, Series of Unfortunate Events, Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, The Lightning Thief- the list goes on and on. Many of these she has purchased with her own money, others we pick up on the cheap at junk stores and still others are gifts.

Lily's room is the same- endless shelves of books, all read again and again and dearly loved.

It's clear that I need a proper library. All of the books in the house could live in this room. It would have a fireplace and many squashy armchairs. Just think of all of the space it would free up in the kids rooms!

Sadly, this is not to be. I will continue to battle the book clutter until some sad day when my children move out. And then I will cry and wail and beg them to come back.

Would you like some good news after that bit of maudlin self-pity?

I found a place to hang the scale! It was worrying me a bit actually and so I knew I needed to find a useful place for it right away before it became a junk albatross hung round my neck, a shameful reminder of junking gone wrong.

Look! It has an actual function! A junk miracle! Speaking of junk miracles, I also found a use for my turquoise vegetable bin. It is housing art supplies. Take that junk naysayers!

Since I had the camera out I thought I'd also do a little show and tell. About four years ago, maybe even longer, I found a Tracy Porter quilt at Linens n' Things for $16. I loved it even though, strictly speaking it was not in my color scheme. For $16 bucks I picked it up anyway. Then a few weeks later I found a matching sham for $5 and grabbed that too. Then I put them in my attic where they mostly stayed. I'd pull out the quilt for picnics, but mostly I just admired it from afar and lamented that it didn't really work in my room.

Then, I painted my room blue and suddenly I had the perfect room for the quilt. It has two sides, but I prefer the back of it. At the end of the bed is an awesome red floral comforter that came from the junk store.

I have to share the absolute highlight of my day. I got mail! I love mail, but surprise mail in the form of presents from Julie is my favorite kind of mail of all!

Look at what that crazy girl sent me.

Hand made Mad City Chicks Soap and a washcloth! This soap looks amazing and smells even better. I cannot wait to not share it with my children tonight. Thanks babe, you are my favorite Mad Chick for sure!

So now, my house is clean and I secretly had ice cream for dinner. The day is done. All that awaits is my bath, my bed and Vincent D'Onfrio. What more could a housewife ask for? Besides closets of course!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Junk with Rebecca...

Today my big girl and I were sick of the beach. Sick of the sand, sick of sunscreen and sick of summer.

Since David and Lily needed more beach time, Rebecca and I did the only thing that two girls unencumbered by a husband and a little sister could be expected to do.

We junked.

Having Rebeca with me, noticing things and just being cheerful was the greatest prize of the day.

I will not allow that child to ever move away. Resolved.

Anyway, on this adventure I brought my camera and the battery. Let's go!

That quilt is for Francis. I should have taken another photo up close so that you could see all of the state birds a bit better.

After we junked, we stopped for this.

I did come home with a few treasures.

This iron plant holder thingy was originally $45, but it was marked down to $5. I snapped that baby up speedy quick!

Puglsey is there to provide scale.

Do not ask me where I am going to put this. It is an unimportant detail. It was $12 and it needed a home.

Okay. Seriously, I don't know what I am going to do with this old vegetable bin. But it's rusty. And turquoise. And chippy. And it was only $6!

 I found this thermos at the Salvation Army in Hyannis when I was shopping on Friday.

It's from England! That means it's fancy.

Finally, I picked up an "S". I love letters, especially letters which have meaning in my life.

It was a perfectly lovely afternoon with a perfectly lovely child.

Delight, bliss and love.