Inspiration From An Unlikely Source

Welcome to a fresh new week my friends, and thank you all so much for your kind messages following my last post.

I recently watched this video of Jim Carrey giving a commencement speech, and have thought so much about it ever since.

He was surprisingly thoughtful and eloquent, and this snippet really struck a cord with me:

     When I was about 28, after a decade as a professional comedian, I realized one night in LA that the purpose of my life had always been to free people from concern…... When I realized this, I dubbed my new devotion, “The Church of Freedom From Concern” — “The Church of FFC”— and I dedicated myself to that ministry.
     What’s yours? How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out. As someone who has done what you are about to go do, I can tell you from experience, the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. 

Sometimes I struggle with what I write about on this blog when we live in a world where there are blood clots and cancer, domestic violence, job loss, mental illness and addiction.  Reports of children being beheaded and people buried alive and genocide.  Real issues and heartache abound all around me, and I write about how to fix a leaky hose or paint furniture?

There are so many big things happening in the world.  Who am I to spend my time and energy thinking, photographing and writing about things that are ultimately insignificant?

And yet we all need a break from the hardships of life.  That's what I like about reading home blogs, and writing one - it's a small respite from the real responsibilities of life.  I'm not going to claim that this blog is my life's purpose, but….

What if I allow myself to envision
that someone reads about how to fix a leaky hose.  Someone who thinks she isn't handy.  And that someone thinks - it doesn't look hard - the gaskets to fix the hose only cost a few cents - what harm is it to try.  And she fixes her hose.  And she thinks, hmmmm, maybe I can figure out how to unclog my sink drain.  And then…..

What if a small little insignificant idea I post about here inspires someone to do something around their own home that makes their life easier, or teaches them a new skill?

What if someone comes here, and they laugh, or they watch a video that makes them smile, or they just take a mindless break from whatever they were doing?  What if this little blog can lighten someone else's burden in some small way?

I mean seriously, it would be a crime to keep things like how to get the wrinkles out of slipcovers or how to make your chalkboard lettering look really good or how to make homemade bed risers or how to cut a chair rail return to myself.

Plus I like to hear myself talk, so there's that.

And - it turns out getting things done and creating something interesting and repurposing old junk are wonderful therapies for a broken heart.

So I've got a bunch of *life changing* things to share with you soon. :)

I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  Cheers to a great week ahead.  xoLisa


Our Loss

Hi my friends in the world of blogging.  I have missed this happy little place and all of you, and thank you for inquiries into my silence over here.

Almost four weeks ago on Friday, July 18, my brother Jim suffered massive blood clots in his lungs and died.

  He was 44 and the father to his greatest joy in life, a beautiful 5 year old boy.

He was also my childhood best friend, arch enemy, constant playmate, toughest critic
and fiercest defender,

as well as a baby brother,

a dearly beloved son,

and the crazy fun uncle.

Jim had a big personality, a wild sense of humor, and boundless energy.  He LOVED kids and truly adored playing with his son, nieces and nephews.  He will be remembered by my kids for all the parades and obstacle courses, firework displays in the middle of winter, race cars, trains set up from one room to the next, reading books with voices for all the characters, and for the endless laughter and fun.

His life in Florida with his son included daily trips to the beach, playground, pony park, or butterfly garden.  He took thousands of photos and videos of his little boy and Jim's greatest happiness was truly found in adventures with his little Jimmy.

We are devastated by his loss, but our sorrow has been eased by the constant support of friends and family, and the knowledge that Jim is at long last together with our dad, who went to heaven when Jim was only 5 himself.  

If you could keep his little boy in your prayers today and in the time to come, I would be so very grateful.  Thank you friends.

Though we need to weep your loss, you dwell in that safe place in our hearts 
where no storm or night or pain can reach you.
Your love was like the dawn brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark a further adventure of colour.
The sound of your voice found for us a new music that brightened everything.
Whatever you enfolded in your gaze quickened in the joy of it's being;
You placed smiles like flowers on the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled with wonder at things.
Though your days here were brief, our spirit was live, awake, complete.
We look towards each other no longer from the distance of our names;
Now you dwell in the rhythm of breath, as close to us as we are to ourselves.
Though we cannot see you with outward eyes, 
we know our soul's gaze is upon your face, smiling back at us 
from within everything to which we bring our best refinement.
Let us not look for you only in memory, where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence, beside us when beauty brightens, 
when kindness glows, and music echoes eternal tones.
When orchids brighten the earth, darkest winter has turned to spring; 
may this dark grief flower with hope in every heart that loves you.
May you continue to inspire us:  
To enter each day with a generous heart.  
To serve the call of courage and love
until we see your beautiful face again
in that land where there is no more separation,
where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
and where we will never lose you again.

-On The Death Of The Beloved by John O'Donohue

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
"Love you"


My Favorite Room on Savvy Southern Style

Today I am so excited to be over at Savvy Southern Style sharing my favorite room.  Yes, THAT Savvy Southern Style, the blog of Kim Nichols whose beautiful dining room is on the cover of French Country Style this month!!!

I love Kim's gorgeous home, and her talent with painting furniture is amazing!  

Here's a sneak peek of my favorite room - yes, it's also the one that is furthest away from being "done"!  

I'm honored for Kim to feature my home in her My Favorite Room Series!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend my lovelies!! 


Mark's Deck Cart

First there was the Art's Market table

and now there is the Mark The Shark

I mentioned recently that I had to sell my beloved changing table-bar cart for lack of space.  I was so looking forward to using it on our deck this summer, but after the bookcases were installed there was just not enough space for the cart when I needed to store it inside.

A few weeks ago I came upon this cute little cart at a yard sale.  It's perfect for our deck in the summer, and small enough to store in the garage in the winter.

It was unfinished, so in order to use it outside it needed to be sealed.  And also - hello blank canvas!  It was just begging to be made over into something fun.  I couldn't wait for the opportunity to tackle this one.

I taped off the casters and the top, and primed every nook and cranny.  Whenever you are painting a bare piece of furniture it's really important to prime it first, and if it's going outside I highly recommend starting with an oil based primer to stand up to the elements. 

After priming, the cart got a few coats of latex paint that I applied with my new little Critter.  More on how I like this paint sprayer in the near future.

Then the fun part - adding a graphic.

My intention with the cart was to have a place for beverages so guests could help themselves, but Mark envisioned using the cart next to the grille as a place to set platters of burgers and dogs and such as he cooked them.  Thus, the idea for some kind of graphic containing the words BAR & GRILLE was born inside my crazy head.  Some of our friends and their kids refer to Mark as Mark the Shark, and I thought it would be kinda humorous to incorporate that in some way too.  I found some shark images online, then played around with different fonts and placements in Powerpoint until I came up with this graphic below, which I uploaded to Block Posters to enlarge and then printed out (you can also blow it up in Word).

My usual chalk-on-the-back-of-the-graphic trick -
- and the graphic traced onto the top of the cart.

Next up, going over the chalk with a black Sharpie.  A Sharpie is a magical tool for transferring images, but keep in mind it's super helfpul to have a FINE Sharpie on hand for the details.  I couldn't find mine, and I was too eager beaver to wait, so the fine details are lacking a bit, but that's okay.

Whenever I blow up an image or text to transfer, I find it helpful to refer back to the image as a whole.  Sometimes parts of the graphic are cut off when you print over several pages, so you have wing it a bit.

All was going well with my transfer until I traced "Mark the Shark" and then filled it in with the Sharpie.  I don't have pictures of this, but the first font I used is irregular and when traced, came out looking like I had 3 glasses of sangria before writing it. Actually maybe I SHOULD have had 3 glasses of sangria first, it might have come out better!

So….a little improvising was necessary, as is often the case in such projects.

My second attempt at "Mark The Shark" went a little better, although not perfect.  This is where the fine Sharpie would have come in handy.  The smaller the font, the more definition.  Also, when using a Sharpie on bare wood there is a bit of bleeding so the fine tip helps to control how much ink is making contact with the wood.

After the Sharpie ink dried for an hour or two, I gave the top of the cart a coat of stain (Minwax Provincial).  I also distressed the body a bit, and then coated the whole piece, every nook and cranny, top and bottom, up and down, with oil based Spar Urethane (the same stuff I sealed my outdoor teak furniture with), coating twice and sanding lightly between coats.
The Clear Satin Spar Urethane (also by Minwax) goes on super shiny, but the sheen fades over time.

The urethane also fills in and evens out imperfections and indentations on the surface - for example, where I colored over the original Mark The Shark is not even visible after being sealed.

It was really fun to turn something functional, but plain,

 into a piece with a little personality!

If you're a font junkie like I am, these are the fonts I used with links to where you can download them.


"Mark" and "Shark's" - FoglihtenNo07 
 "the"  - Bergamot Ornaments lowercase z
(Check out this handy printable Bergamot Ornaments guide by Rachel Myers!)

"Bar & Grille" - Buffet Script 

(The first Mark the Shark is in what used to be called Cracked but is now called the very classy Crackhouse.  I like this font but don't recommend it for transferring images.)

If Mark gets the cart for grilling purposes, 

I think the rest of us need matching t shirts, don't you?

Happy Wednesday lovelies!



I'm almost embarrassed to tell you that when my car key remote stopped working, my way of troubleshooting was to 1//  not do anything about it for a year and then 2//  call the car dealership to see what they could do.  Their answer?  Replace the remote for $200.  Yes, $200!!!!!

Well guess what?  The very smart man I married suggested there was probably a dead battery inside the remote, so I pulled it apart and lo and behold, that's all that was the problem, fixed with a $6 battery.  (I couldn't find this particular battery at my local grocery store or Walgreens, but Radio Shack had them.)

I think I'm resourceful but I never once considered how the little remote operated.

It's kind of a no-brainer - just open up the remote and replace the battery as you would the TV remote or anything else that takes a battery.  Jeesh!  Why didn't I think of this before?

And now, because I know you've been missing my pretty countertops, a visual tutorial.
TOP L-R:  dead remote…..remove tiny screw…..use small screwdriver to open up remote shell
MIDDLE L-R:  separate sides of remote shell…..pull out mechanical unit…..separate
BOTTON L-R:  remove dead battery, noting battery #…..purchase new battery…..replace battery!

Garage door keypads also take this type of battery so don't call the garage door repairman just yet!

YEP, I really just blogged about how to change the battery in your car remote.  
Is your world officially rocked?


Cleaning & Sealing Outdoor Teak Furniture

Can you believe that our table and chairs…..

….looked like this a short time ago?

With teak outdoor furniture, there are two directions you can go - the grey and weathered "Restoration Hardware" look:
{Restoration Hardware}

….or the wood tone look like this set from Ballard Designs.

Whether you are a fan of the grey and weathered or the wood tone, teak furniture will last for years upon years with a little care.  We have had our set for almost 10 years, so I thought I'd share my methods for cleaning and sealing teak furniture.  

First up……
weathered teak.
Weathered teak has a warm grey color acquired from unfinished pieces living outside exposed to the elements and sun.
To me it represents a very CAPE COD coastal look that I love.  

There is a difference between weathered and dirty, though.

The two chairs below are a good representation of weathered and just plain scummy.

Unsealed teak wood will develop mildew over time if exposed to water on a regular basis.  The mildew can be washed away with regular liquid dishsoap, warm water, a hand-held scrub brush and some elbow grease.  I have invested in "teak cleaners" in the past but they yield the exact same results as regular old dish soap.

After scrubbing off the mildew, giving the thirsty wood some Teak oil will keep it from cracking over time.  This is the one I use.  You can apply it with a cloth but a cheap nylon paintbrush works great for getting into all the nooks and crannies.

When the teak oil is first applied to the clean, bare table and chairs, the warm wood tone returns for a short while.  In the photo below you can see how the wood color started fading within a day of applying two coats of the oil.

With just the teak oil, over the summer the finish would fade to this pretty warm grey.  The wood is not impervious to stains from grease, etc. when treated with just teak oil.

I've done this for years - scrubbed the mildew off, applied the teak oil, and then let nature take it's course and turn it all to a weathered grey, and I'm not going to lie - the process is tedious.  I clocked 6 hours just scrubbing the table and chairs this year, and then a few more hours to apply the teak oil.  If you love the look of weathered teak, keep in mind that outdoor furniture will require a good scrubbing and application of teak oil on an annual basis to protect and keep the furniture looking great.

That's it for the weathered look:
 1//  SCRUB

The other option…..
warm wood-toned teak.
By sealing the teak, the wood tone of the teak is really captured:

The other major bonuses to sealing outdoor teak furniture:
*the finish will be impervious to grease and stains
*mildew will not form on the wood
*the finish will last for 2-3 years before needing to be redone*

To achieve this look, the process is the same as the weathered look - 

1//  SCRUB
with this additional step:

Some people would argue that the teak oil is not necessary if you intend to seal the wood with urethane; you can determine if your furniture needs it based on whether it is new, or has been exposed to the elements for a while.  My table and chairs were so dry that a couple pieces had developed cracks, so I "fed" the wood first with a couple coats of teak oil.  

If you are applying teak oil followed by urethane, allow the teak oil to be absorbed by the wood for a few days before applying the urethane.

Why SPAR urethane?
Spar urethane is not a brand, but a kind of sealant that is used on boats to withstand water and sun.  It is sold by Minwax, Rustoleum and other name brands.  I used the spar urethane below which is oil based, and applied it with an inexpensive nylon paint brush that I could toss after.  Even though I despise working with oil-based paints, I chose the oil version for added durability, but it does also come in a water-based formula.  
From the Minwax site:
Helmsman® Spar Urethane is a specially formulated protective clear finish for exterior or interior wood that is exposed to sunlight, water, or temperature changes. It contains UV blockers to reduce the sun's graying and fading effects. Helmsman® Spar Urethane forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture and its special oils allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change.

*Our furniture lives outside all year long since we lack storage space for it.  Being exposed to the harsh winter climate will undoubtedly shorten the life of the urethane finish, but covering the furniture with tarps over the winter will reduce exposure.

In a nutshell, here are the stages of outdoor teak furniture as it gets refinished, counterclockwise: 
1// unsealed teak, exposed to the elements for over a year, covered in mildew
2// scrubbed clean, bare teak wood
3//  coated with teak oil and fading fast
4//  scrubbed clean, coated with teak oil, coated with spar urethane

After years with the weathered look, we are enjoying the change.  It's like we have a new set of furniture!  AND…..I am VERY much looking forward to skipping the annual scrubbing of the table & chairs next year!

A little work, but worth the effort!

Wishing you a weekend of sunshine, fun and relaxation!  
Thank you as always for stopping by!