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A labor of love – the fairy bed

02/16/2017

Belle

 

sabines-room-6When we first toured our house, I knew it was the home for us. Chill bumps prickled all over my arms as I stepped in and Sabine immediately started admiring the many quirky details. As we worked our way through the home, we came to the “purple” bedroom.

“This is Sabine’s room!” my child declared and then started gesturing around the space. “My big girl fairy bed will go here, and my toys will go here, and there will be flowers like New York on my walls!”

Fast-forward a week, and I was in full spreadsheet mode – here are all the things we have to do and purchase before we move in. At the top of the list was a big girl bed for my still crib-bound three-year-old. I knew I wanted something non-Ikea, with character, that was built to last and was under $100. This is not an easy task when it comes to furniture.

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Sabine inspects the bed. We both agreed that it looked very much like a fairy bed.

Together Sabine and I scoured thrift shops and consignment stores waiting for the perfect bed. One afternoon we popped into the TROSA thrift store and found two French provincial style twin beds. They were in rough shape. One bed had a rotting leg and the other, while structurally sound, needed refinishing. But priced at $60 it came in way under budget and honestly, how much could it cost to buy some chalk paint and sandpaper? “It’s going to be so cute AND cheap!” I texted to the Professor.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHA,” laughed Annie Sloan.

 

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Love the smooth, matte finish of chalk paint and wax finish varnish.

 

We hauled it back to our tiny apartment, and I started researching chalk paint. I wanted a smooth, matte finish to the paint with the look of wax but the durability of varnish. Polyvine makes a Dead Flat Wax Finish Varnish that had glowing reviews from chalk painters and was about $30 for a quart. A little over budget for excellent durability is ok, I justified.

Sabine and I drove to Raleigh to buy our paint from the area Annie Sloan dealer. I showed him pictures of the bed and explained that I wanted a smooth finish. Not a distressed shabby chic look.

“You’ll want to shellac first,” he said. “That will ensure that none of the wood or old finish will bleed through. And you need this brush.”

He held up the most ridiculous looking round rough brush I have ever seen.

“Really? That will give me a smooth finish? I read that I needed a high quality nylon bristle brush?”

Oh no, he insisted. Any other brush will leave strokes. You NEED this $40 brush to go with your $40 paint. And then you need wax and a wax brush… I was able to stop him at the wax since I had already ordered the wax finish varnish. He sneered at this but happily rang up the expensive brush and paint.

Then off to Home Depot for $40 in sandpaper and shellac. Do you see where I am going with this? $60 bargain bed, $30 in fancy varnish, $40 chalk paint, $40 rip-off brush, $40 in shellac and sandpaper… this is NOT a $100 project.

I sanded the bed outside the apartment, then brought it into Sabine’s room to shellac, paint, and varnish. This was supposed to be a two-day project with one day to shellac and paint and one day to varnish. SEVEN days later I finished. The fancy pants, expensive-ass brush left tons of brush strokes, so every coat of chalk paint required a light sanding. It also dropped bristles like my Maine Coon cat drops fur, so I was constantly pulling bristles out of the paint. It was a never-ending painting nightmare. Six coats later and I waved my white flag. Yes, there were some brush strokes, but this was getting ridiculous. It was for a little kids room. Chances are it would be covered in puppy stickers within 24 hours anyways. Three coats of varnish and 3 additional days of cure time and it was finally ready to wrap up and add to the growing pile of stuff for the new house.

 

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 I LOVE the footboard! Does this not make you think of fern fronds and fairies? 

 

So the moral of this story is that chalk paint is NOT a one day project, Polyvine Dead Flat Wax Finish Varnish is badass, expensive Annie Sloan brushes are a piece of crap, and no DIY refinishing project is every “cheap” or “quick!”

Thankfully I am thrilled with the end result and, most importantly, so is Sabine. We set the bed up the first night in the house, and she was so excited that she could not wait to go to sleep – which is a VERY big thing for my sleep fighting child.

 

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Getting comfy cozy for her first night in the big girl fairy bed in our new home.

 

 

 

Wall Cloud

02/02/2017

Belle

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I pull into our polling location and get Sabine out of the car as she protests and squirms. She wants to go to the museum instead. I explain that today is a historic day when we get to cast our vote for the first woman president. “Tomorrow you’ll wake up to a bright future, Sabine. Tomorrow the glass ceiling that has hung over our heads will be no more,” I said.

My eyes fill with tears as I mark the ballot.

That night the Professor, a friend and I settle into our sofa with beers and snacks. To celebrate I select craft beers that have labels featuring foxy women. Television on, laptops out and mobile devices connected to WiFi. Let the games begin.

Around 12 a.m. we switch to bourbon and stare slack-jawed at our screens. How was this happening?

*****************

The weeks between the election and inauguration I read the news daily waiting for something, anything really, to change the outcome.

But it did not happen.

The last two weeks have been a complete nightmare as one shocking thing after another hits the news. I grew up in tornado alley, and the feelings I am experiencing are a lot like the feelings when you’re huddled in a bathtub listening to the radio coverage of an approaching wall cloud. You don’t know what is within that cloud but you know it’s not good and if you happen to get a direct hit, well, things are going to get fucking ugly.

A bad storm line is over in a matter of hours. This Trump presidency and his cabinet of clowns, however, are going to be here for a long time and the effects will be felt for decades to come. So hunker down, y’all. This storm is likely one for the books.

Please note that we are all entitled to our opinions in this election. Hateful, deconstructive comments will be deleted.

Hello old friend.

01/24/2017

Belle

 

 

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I need a haircut and Sabine looks overly concerned but I still feel immense pride in this photo! 17,000 marched in Raleigh, NC and my daugher and I were two of them. 

It’s been nearly six months since my last post, which feels weird. I miss it here and miss having a tidy archive of thoughts and adventures. I’m going to try to come back on a semi-regular basis, but no promises on how often or what topics. Only hope that I can find time in my crazy life to sit down and put the proverbial pen to paper, or in my case, fingers to keys.

 

Oddly, in typing that last sentence, I realized that my spacebar is on its way out. Clearly, I have been away too long.

So much has happened in six months that I’m not sure where to begin.

We sold our apartment in NYC, packed up Sabine and the cats and moved to Durham, North Carolina in August. We unpacked our things into what Sabine now refers to as “the crappy apartment.” It was dark, dirty, in disrepair and, much to Yum Yum’s delight, it was full of spiders.

We started house hunting immediately, assuming it would take a while to find a home with character, in a decent school district, that allowed us to continue living small and that was in our budget. Two weeks later I walked into our dream home. We made an offer that day, had a bit of a bidding war over the weekend and on Tuesday we won.

Then we celebrated. And then we groaned. We had just unpacked! We closed in October, spent a week repainting and then moved all of our stuff and all of our cats yet again. It was intense, and there are boxes we still have not unpacked because, you know, we are totally out of packing/unpacking steam! But that is ok because I am NEVER MOVING AGAIN so why not draw out the joys of unpacking a little longer?!

The house is my little castle – 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms (all humans can take a shit at the same time!) with a tiny converted attic space that makes a perfect office/craft nook/guest space. Built in 1936 and remodeled 20 years ago by a famous local designer, the home is a mix of modern and classic and is filled with unique hand-made details. We love it. And are never moving again.

House aside, we are slowly settling into life in the south once again. Durham is pleasantly progressive, which is a Godsend given the current shit storm of politics. Durham is also full of great food, art, culture and even has some impressive museums. Thirty minutes one way is Raleigh, twenty minutes the other is Chapel Hill and 30 minutes the other is Cary, which appears to be where all New Yorkers fed up with snow move. Our car, which still has New York tags, is right at home with all the other newly relocated New Yorkers who are also unable to organize themselves enough to get to the DMV.

In September, Sabine started her new preschool – an adorable little co-op school 10 minutes down the road. Parents are highly involved at this school, and we have already been able to make some friends. I volunteered to do the portraits for all the kids this year and had an absolute blast getting to know everyone and stretching my creative legs. Sabine is thriving at the school, too. She is still the tiniest in her class, but she has come a long way in ruling the playground and standing up for herself. I feel like Sabine deserves a post soon, so I’ll hold further kid updates until later.

There is so much more. I have found a new hobby in refinishing furniture. It seems sanding off old finish the perfect exercise for the OCD. I am working out again regularly. The thrift stores here are fabulous and have allowed me to furnish the new home entirely second hand. The cats have adjusted well to the new house and the white one, Euclid, is still alive despite being in renal failure. We have taken some recent trips and have some more booked. We have not done any hiking in our new area due to weather and busy schedules.

And there is a lot that is still the same. I am still eating toast daily, and my favorite lunch remains scrambled eggs. I continue on my quest for a minimal and simple life. I am still chronically late, none of our socks ever match, and my kid’s hair is almost never brushed.

And after a bit of typing my spacebar is warming back up and working better. I guess that means I’ll have to come back soon. Until then, peace and love to whoever is still out there!