My fabulous find – a furniture makeover

My fabulous find – a furniture makeover

Anticipating the delivery of Don’s birthday TV, and realizing that it would never fit into the old entertainment center, I knew that I had to find some kind of stand for the new Samsung – and fast!  Because I had spent plenty on the television itself, I was feeling kind of frugal (actually very cheap), but I knew that laminated pressed board from Wal-Mart was not going to go over well with my consultants (kids and spouses) even though it might fit my budget.

So with Don gone for the day on a Church youth activity, Emily and I set out for the thrift store, hoping the perfect piece would simply present itself.  Half price Saturdays at the local Arc are wildly popular with Greeleyites, because let’s face it – 50% off at the thrift store is frugal living at its finest.  The store was crowded with bargain hunters, and the checkout lines were long as patient customers waited to purchase jeans, dishes, school clothes – and even lingerie.

But we were two on a mission and (once Emily made peace with the thrift store smell), we made a beeline for the back of the store.  Because we weren’t sure what we wanted, we weren’t sure we’d recognize IT when we saw it.  Our first look around the furniture department identified a couple of possibilities – not ideal, but worth consideration.    But after Emily talked me out of a couple of false positives, and she had gone to check on the kids who were delightedly perusing the toy department, I spotted a piece that I thought had great potential.  I couldn’t go find her, because furniture is a hot item on half-price day, and I couldn’t risk somebody else staking a claim on what could be our piece of promise.

Shortly they all returned to check on my progress, and Jack proudly showed me their fabulous find – Don’t Break the Ice” game for $1.00.  Emily thoughtfully examined the old dresser I was hovering over, and agreed that it was a great find and would fix up well.  And for $25 how wrong could we go?

We decided to go for it, and quickly paid (watching closely that the helpful employee tagged my piece with a SOLD sign), made arrangements to pick it up later and hurried to the car.  Emily had just about reached her limit on the Arc ambiance and she passed disinfecting hand wipes all around.

Raw potential
Raw potential

A quick trip in and out of Home Depot yielded sandpaper, primer, black paint and polyurethane finish and we were ready to get to work.  Taking confidence from our success with the Great China Hutch Makeover of  2002, Emily and I set up shop in the garage.  We sanded, primed, painted and finished and then suggested Don spray paint the drawer pulls – tricky, huh!

Cheap labor
The grandkids were cheap labor.
It wasn't too hard to get rid of the lovely gold trimmed doors
It wasn't too hard to get rid of the lovely gold trimmed doors

About three days and several tall tales later (most of which Don probably didn’t believe, but was too polite to challenge) we finished in time for the paint to be dry before the television arrived.

The transformation is complete
The transformation is complete

Now I wonder if I can do a make over on a couch . . .

What just happened?

What just happened?

Friends and Hermanaas
Friends and Hermanaas

For the past 2 1/2 years, Don and I have been attending the Spanish Branch of the Church.  We have been welcomed with open arms and warm hearts, and we have really learned to love our Latino friends.  Many of these members have lived in the United States for a long time and speak English proficiently.  From time to time we realize that culturally we all hold on to “our” ways, but a blend of the two usually means success.

Last Sunday in Relief Society, the President, Guille Bugarin, announced the upcoming Enrichment activity on Thursday afternoon.  She showed a couple of projects that would be offered, and fielded questions about what each entailed, what we needed to bring, etc.  Because this discussion was in Spanish, I missed a lot, but I could clearly see that we could learn how to crochet edges on dishtowels or do something with a tote bag.  I couldn’t follow the discussion well enough to know if we were going to make a bag or decorate one, but since I didn’t want to do that, it didn’t matter.  I decided maybe I’d go for some instruction in crochet.

Thursday morning, 8 a.m. – telephone call for me:

Hello

Buenos días, mi amiga.  How are you?

I’m muy bien, gracias.

Sister, today at our Enrichment meeting I want to show the sisters how to make a cover for the pills.  I have most of the material that I need, but I wonder if you have some small pieces that I can use to finish.  I am making one for the boys and one for the girls.  Do you have any material in light blue or white?

I’m pretty sure I have some.  But what are you making?  a cover for the pills?

Yeah, you know – a thing to cover the pills.

The pills?

Yeah, you know – a thing to cover the pills.

At this point I was racking my brain trying to figure out what she was talking about.  I’m used to brief lapses in understanding during our conversations, but usually one or the other catches the drift and we continue!  However, this time  I could not begin to connect what I had seen regarding either the dishtowels or tote bags with “the pills.”

I don’t know what you mean.  But in a few minutes I’ll come up to your house and see what you’re doing to make sure I have what you need.

Oh, thank you so much.  You can come when you finish your breakfast.

When I got to her house she showed me some fabric that she wanted to make into pillowcases.

Oh, pillowcases!  You’re going to teach how to make pillowcases!

Yes.  I think the sisters need to learn how to sew and when they see a cute cover like this they will maybe want to make one.  And I don’t think it’s too hard.

Oh, no.  They aren’t hard to make.  That is a good project to start with.

And can you please bring your [sewing] machine?

So we discussed what she needed and I told her I would bring some fabric that would work for the wide hems on the cases.  We chatted for a while, she showed me a lot of family pictures, we talked about her kids, and about 45 minutes later I returned home.  I went to my fabric stash and found a couple of pieces of fabric that would work to complete the pillowcases.

The meeting was supposed to start at 3 p.m., and Don had assured Guille that he would be at the church to unlock the door.  I reminded Don that mis amigas have no concept of starting on time at a somewhat informal meeting as this one is, so I was not planning to go before 3:45.

When he called me from the church at about 3:35, Guille had just arrived and one other sister was there.  He said he’d be home to pick me up in about 15 minutes.  I had my sewing machine and fabric ready to go.

In that 15 minutes, my “American former Relief Society President” thinking kicked in, and I dashed downstairs to gather a few more things that I realized she might need for a sewing class.  If she needed my machine, perhaps a few other tools would be helpful as well.  Soon my pile at the door consisted of my cutting mat and rotary blade, several pairs of sewing scissors, iron, and a couple of pieces of coordinating fabric that I thought were big enough to make a pillowcase.  In addition I took some banana cake from the freezer and arranged it on a cute plate as my contribution to snacks.  When Don pulled in the driveway, we loaded the car and returned to the church.

The sisters had congregated in the multi-purpose room next to the kitchen and were chatting while setting out some food.  One sister was setting up her sewing machine, and we discussed where to plug mine in, as I wasn’t sure how she was going to do her instruction.  Then Guille turned to me:

So now you will teach us how to make pillowcases?

Wait, I thought you were teaching how to sew . . . I was going to learn to crochet . . . I’m not prepared to teach this class . . Fortunately – or due to divine intervention, because of my conversation with Guille earlier, I had done an internet search and emailed instructions for making a pillowcase to Maddie as a possible beginning sewing project. So without missing a beat I took charge, set up shop, pulled fabric out of my bag and taught the women how to make a pillowcase.    None had ever used a rotary cutter, and they were fascinated with the ease and accuracy of that little tool.  Marsha had never used a sewing machine, so she sat down at mine and cautiously sewed while her little boys stood at her elbows fascinated with her new skill.

“What would happen if I put my finger in there where that pointy thing (needle) is?”

“Mom, when you get really good will you make it go faster?”

“Tyler, you’re standing on the material so it won’t move!”

By the time the clock struck 6 and it was time to clean up,  we had completed 3 pillowcases and had a great meal of tostadas, beans, chicken, salsa, watermelon and cake.  It seems that at these functions, food just appears as if by magic – plentiful and delicious!  And we’d all had a good time.

Later that evening I realized that I had just taught an Enrichment sewing class with no advance notice, no preparation, no handouts, no centerpieces, no sign up sheets and no stress.

How refreshing!

Celebrating 60

Celebrating 60

Happy, happy birthday
Happy, happy birthday

It’s no secret that Don has dreamed of a flat screen TV for a long time, but in spite of our shopping, pondering, and analyzing we have never actually made the big purchase.  About every three months, we go to the store and spend a long time looking at a variety of brands, sizes, features and prices.  We compare picture quality and discuss how “it” would look in the family room.  And we always go home empty handed.  After all – our old 27″ Panasonic does just fine.

Since this year was a milestone birthday for Don, with some encouragement from the kids, we (our kids, his mom, and I) decided to surprise him with a new television.  I consulted with my tech savvy children for recommendations on size and brand, and ordered from Costco.com.  I’m not certain how truly surprised he really was, as I think he overheard a couple of my “clandestine” phone calls – when will I learn to speak softly? And it didn’t help that Don personally took the call when Costco called here to schedule delivery – did they not get my explicit instructions to call my cell phone and deliver to Peter’s house?

Willing set up crew
Willing set up crew

We had a three hour window of opportunity when Don left to take his mom to the airport.  Mark and Pete had instructed the delivery guys to load directly into Mark’s car, and as soon as Don left our house, they drove over and we got to work.  The worst part was unloading all the stuff from the entertainment center and then hauling that and the old TV to the garage.

Cluttered chaos as we unloaded the old entertainment center
Cluttered chaos

While I figured out what to do with everything from the previous set up (does anybody need some VCR tapes?) the boys checked out the system and deemed it AWESOME!

You didn't really . . . ?
You didn't really . . . ?

Fox News on the big screen - almost overwhelming!
Fox News on the big screen - a dream come true!

But surprised or not, he loves his new toy!  He told me it was the best birthday gift he’s ever had and that he would have been very disappointed if I hadn’t come through with it.  Talk about pressure after the fact . . .

46" of fun
46" of fun

And yes, a big flat screen television puts TV watching on a whole new level – we love it!

*Take note of the television stand.  It’s my thrift store find dresser after a make over.  More on that later.
You might be a redneck if . . .

You might be a redneck if . . .

Don - armed and ready
Don - armed and ready

. . . you buy a squirrel trap to use in your back yard.

Each summer we have noticed an increase in the squirrel population in our back yard, and this year we’ve felt like we’re being taken over by the little rodents.  Some afternoons our yard looks like the word got out on the squirrel hot line, “Party at the Butler’s,” and every bushy tailed rodent in the neighborhood has stopped by to play.  We’ve got nothing against squirrels, but they are damaging the trees, playing in our garden, AND eating our strawberries – a precious commodity.

Since we don’t have dogs to scare them away, and we don’t have guns to eliminate them, Don found a solution at Home Depot and came  home with the Havahart squirrel trap.

So simple to bait
So simple to bait

Ready for action
Ready for action

Success!
Success!

Poor little guy got tricked! And he was not happy about that.

Road to freedom
Road to freedom

Don took him for a ride way out in the north country and set him free.

Do you think he can find his way home?

Have you ever heard of a homing squirrel?

Three trapped – probably 5-7 more to go.

But no squirrel stew around here.  We’re not that rednecked!