Monday, September 26, 2016

A Cozy & Casual Fall Tablescape; how to

Hello friends.
Today I decided to style a pretty Fall table for a little dinner of ours... and I wanted to share a few easy ideas you might use. You probably won't believe this, but I haven't bought a single pumpkin yet. 
So instead--I decided to do a table with some other favorite Fall items--
beginning with warm caramel and shiny, red apples.

Yep, I made me some homemade caramel apple place cards!

I used real sticks--actually had to cut some branches from my yard to get them, and basically followed the directions on the caramel bag. It's been a while since I've made these and since I wanted the apples to sit fairly flat on the plates, I decided to dip the tops.  

Before I dipped the apple I used a knife to make a slight hole in the top and then used the stick to push deep enough for the stick. 

After the hole in the top was ready for the stick, I turned the apple over and used a butter knife--gently inserted--not too deep---to dip and swirl the apple in the warm caramel before placing it on a paper plate. 
I found that it was less messy to have the hole for the stick already in the apple before dipping..

The stick goes in right away.

Next I wrapped a piece of rough Jute string around the stems --mostly for texture-- and tied a Kraft tag to the Jute string. 
Here's a better shot.

For the centerpiece I filled two vintage Copper Colanders 
( I call them strainers) 
with white Mums.

I stuffed the heavy duty brown paper--the same stuff I used for the table runner--around the dirt as a filler for the apples to sit on (I used real ones), then I added green moss into any cracks and voila!

Ok. So far here's what's on my Fall table:
Creamy white Mums
old Copper
Red Apples
Warm Caramel
Heavyweight Brown Paper--
(I used the kind in the Paint section at Home Depot because it was leftover from a project)
Are you liking some of my favorite Fall items?

Next I added plaid napkins from Target.

I used fresh berries (from grocery store) and stuck them into my twig wreaths. I got mine at the thrift store (a big bag filled with 12 for one dollar)

And then I used whatever I had. 

White dishes, wood lantern, stemware, Pier One placemats....already had.

I couldn't find any fresh Eucalypytus anywhere --so instead of fresh greens down the middle of the table --
I used some old music sheets rolled into scrolls and added some fresh apple votives. 

I like using my bar cart for soup tureen, bowls and spoons.

It's a simple table---and with the paper runner it's definitely casual, but I hope I gave you some ideas you can use.

So tell me.
Have you started decorating for Fall already?

I'm sharing this post with friends:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Kitchen Update-and the quickest DIY chalkboard ever...

I have to be honest.

I wouldn't be painting chalkboard paint directly onto my kitchen cabinet if I had nice ones. But we inherited some old melamine cabinets that are peeling in spots as I write this, and since this big renovation is still months away, anything goes around this little old kitchen.
Wanna see my latest spur-of the moment change in here?

I decided to make a quick, custom chalkboard to fit on the side of one of the cabinets because there wasn't any other space in my kitchen for it. 

No it wasn't ideal but my latest gallery wall took up a lot of wall space, so I was fine with it.
Here's a few Before shots:

This photo shows the side of the cabinet: wood putty covering a hole; tape showing the desired size

I wanted this project to be easy and quick so here's what I did:

After filing a hole and examining the surface area, I decided to save time; instead of buying wood and making my own chalkboard that would need to be mounted on the cabinet, I just taped out the measurements I wanted, bought a can of chalk paint from Home Depot and painted inside the lines.

Truthfully I had no idea how the paint would adhere to this slick, worn melamine. I went over it lightly with sand paper and crossed my fingers.

This was my Gulp moment.

A few coats later, I was feeling better. I used the brush for the first few coats. Then I used a roller for more uniform coats.
The one warning I have is to watch for drips because once they dry it's hard to sand them away without pulling the paint off.

I also quickly learned that the painter's tape I used for the boundaries could not be lifted without removing pieces of the paint. So I simply trimmed as much as I could but I wasn't too concerned since I would be covering these edges with a "frame."

Once the chalk painting was finished I was supposed to wait three days for it to completely 'cure' although I never wait that long. 
But I did "season" it.

This is an important step if you use chalkboard paint. Basically you take a piece of chalk and cover the entire chalkboard before writing one word.
If you don't take this last step, your first words will be forever sketched into the porous black surface. 

For the frame I bought 2 stock pine pieces from Home Depot for under $6.00 and cut them into four pieces using my miter saw.

After they were cut I rubbed in some Annie Sloan's soft wax  (in dark) because I happened to have some in the garage.

Then I used my nail gun and a level and basically connected all the sides, taking care to shoot small nails into the corners for added stability.

Once the four pieces were attached and my frame was done I began playing around with fonts.

I usually do my chalkboard letters free-hand, although there's lot's of tutorials out there if you want more direction. I basically google chalkboard images until I find one I like, and then I keep the image next to me when I'm writing.

and one last time....

I hope you found this little post helpful.
When I was googling chalkboard art I did see a couple of my past projects online, which was kinda nice. It was also a reminder that I've been playing around with chalk for awhile.

If you would like to see my chalkboard art on my previous kitchen island you can go HERE

Here's one of my Christmas projects...

And then I changed it for Fall. If you want to see this project on my previous mantel you can click on:
my latest chalkboard art for Fall

Thanks so much for visiting today.
So tell me.
Did I motivate you to pick up a piece of chalk and give it a try?


I'm sharing this posts with a few friends:
Thoughts of Home on Thursday
Feathered Nest Friday
Wildly Original Link Party

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change

September is National Yoga Month.

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I went through the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Program—-- although not a day goes by without me feeling the effects of this experience on my life.

 I realize now. It wasn’t only the yoga program itself that felt transformative, it was larger than that.

As a result of tackling something that felt profoundly scary and new to me—and completing it, I had ventured outside my fixed idea about myself.

Pema Chodron, the Buddhist nun and author, says we all scramble for security and we do this by clinging hard to fixed views on everything--- especially ourselves--because to let go brings discomfort.

Letting go of our cemented roles, our intense emotions about situations, and our unconscious story line means dealing with change and uncertainty. Even when we think we want change in our lives---it’s still stressful letting go of our comforting illusion that everything is under our control and happily static.

The truth is life is fluid and always changing.
We can face this honestly and learn how to let go or we can be in denial and resist it. As the Buddhists say, it's not life's cyclical changes that causes us pain, it's our resistance to it. When we cling to our youth, to our kids, to the way things 'used to be' that's what causes our suffering.

It's an interesting thought isn't it?

Years ago when I used to interview potential eating disorder patients, I would actively look for entrances and exits that had recently happened in their lives.

This was how I got a picture of their current stress level.

Births and deaths, marriage, separation, divorce, job loss or job change, relocation, leaving home for the first time. Becoming an empty nester.

These are all transitions that create a feeling of groundlessness in our lives; instead of that comfy, safe feeling we like, it feels like things are shifting underneath our feet and we feel vulnerable. This instability is stressful, whether the change is positive or negative, and I think it’s important to recognize this.

This is a way we can find compassion for ourselves when life feels overwhelming and we're longing for stability.

Chodron has a name for our dilemma; she calls this the fundamental ambiguity of being human.

As human beings, we’re all in the same boat. We crave stability in a world that is constantly changing. And some of us are better than others at adapting and tolerating newness in our lives, although generally the more uncomfortable we are with change, the more we will latch on to 'sameness.'

The more we need to feel in control.

So if you’re like me—a person who likes to feel in control and knowledgeable, signing up for a teacher training program as a beginner yogi with a fifty-six year old body and a bad back, well, are you getting the full picture here?

It’s a prescription for unpredictability and stress.

I still remember that first day sitting on the floor of the mirrored yoga studio. I had just recovered from a back sprain and I was gazing around the circle at my fellow students wondering what the heck I had got myself into---I was clearly the oldest person in the class---and as I listened to the introductions, I began to feel more out of place than ever.

 Little did I know how much my body--and my mind-- would change as a result of this decision. 

So today --in honor of this sentimental anniversary-I thought I would share a few things I learned from jumping head first into a commitment that made me deal with these three issues:

1.  On not being ready

      (“How can I do this?...It feels too soon”)

What I learned:

When I think of ‘readiness,’ I remember a conversation that happened when I was a graduate student. I remember it because it taught me a truth about life that I didn’t yet understand. I was always the good little student in school who did things in order. At that point I needed pieces of paper—diplomas, professional titles—to make me feel secure and confident. But one of the first tasks I had after I landed my dream job on an Eating Disorder Unit at a LA hospital, was to give a welcome speech and tour to a reception of prominent clinicians from around the area.

As a graduate student, I was terrified. These were all seasoned professionals in the field I aspired to---and I felt like an utter imposter. I was aware of being the only one in the room without a Master’s degree and this made me feel totally inadequate. The medical director—a gifted psychoanalyst- took me to lunch and listened to my fears explode all over our food, and then he quietly smiled and told me I’d be fine.

“Just pretend as if,” he instructed.

What? I was flabbergasted. But that’s not how I feel inside, I thought.

Wasn’t this being fake?

(Yes, I was that naïve and sincere)

It wasn’t until years later that I understood his advice; I now know there are times when you simply don’t feel ready for what you need to do. And so you do your best. I also know that too much trepidation can lead to “analysis-paralysis” and missed opportunities.

Is there some dream or goal you’re thinking about doing? My advice is that once you’ve done your proper homework, you might have to accept that emotionally you may never feel ‘perfectly’ ready. But there are times when the act of choosing Motion changes Emotion.

2. On being too intimidated

      (“Oh no—I can’t do this—it’s totally outside my comfort level”)

This is what I’ve learned:

I am not a seeker of scary experiences. Let me be clear about that. 

There’s no one that likes a comfy routine more than me. But one thing I’ve learned from relocating cites and selling our family home (2 years ago) in my fifties, is that big changes inject your life with a newfound energy. All of sudden you’re looking around with a pair of new eyes. You find yourself growing in unexpected ways simply because you’re outside your comfort zone and everything feels terribly new.
Suddenly anything seems possible.

But no, you don't have to move and be totally uprooted to have a similar feeling. I've found that change in baby steps is manageable.

Here’s one way to feel good about yourself. Introduce something new and positive to your life, but make it small. Just do it every day for a set period of time. Even a week is good. And finish it. 

The next thing you know, you’re walking around with a feeling of accomplishment about this one positive thing you’ve done. And suddenly, you’re seeing yourself differently and who knows what's next?

It's this openness to new experiences that keeps us growing.

3. On being too old

    (“This is a younger person’s world, I’m too old to do this”)

This is what I learned:

When I was sitting in that class on the first day of training I was excruciatingly aware of my age.  Although some of it is simple reality.

When I walk into a hot yoga class on any given day, I tend to be surrounded by mostly younger women. Some men too. Looking back now, I realize so much of my struggle during my teacher training period was clearly related to being the oldest person in the room--and how it made me feel. This was new to me. Adding to my self-consciousness was my lack of yoga experience and my recent injury which left me with a sore back and a cautiousness about certain poses.

Do you want to feel instantly old? Try walking around with bad back.
Oh--and then be totally clueless about the topic.

Pema Chodron writes about the way we erect labels and credentials around our self-image to feel secure:  it's like our armor. It helps us put solid ground under our feet in an ever shifting world. And when things start to fall apart, she tells us to look around. It’s usually when our fixed idea of “This is Me” is being challenged.

 I felt this happen to me in each class as I fumbled with memorizing and forgetting material that was foreign to me; suddenly I became aware of how my self-worth was tied up in my image of being good at something. Of feeling educated and knowledgeable. Here I was, a total beginner at something. And it didn't feel good.

So I learned a little more about being humbled.

But here’s something else I took away from the experience.

I recently turned 57 years old and I’m proud of it.
I feel blessed to have a strong body and a curious mind. Even thought I'm still reading Chodron's book, I know that this idea of living beautifully with uncertainty is not a pretty Pinterest worthy image. In fact it’s downright messy and uncomfortable and even painful at times.
It means dealing with loss. It means we have to accept that nothing stays the same which can be scary, and it means we must learn how to let go gracefully when it’s time.

Whether it’s our image of our self as a young, wrinkle-free woman that we need to adjust, or an image of our self with a certain job title, or whether it's stepping away from our adult kid and letting them struggle.

I'm still learning about letting go. But I really believe we get closer to discovering the essence of our inner beauty when we’re willing to shed our armor. 

What do you think?

Can you relate to this post?


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