Sunday, May 17, 2009

Save that old leather piece

About nine months ago, I realized our old leather chair
was on the way to the curb unless a major miracle could save it. I
sure hated to give that chair up. But like me, it was really
showing its age; all those years of kids tumbling over the
back and sitting three to the seat reading or watching TV together.
With nothing to lose, I borrowed my hubby's sander
( I could have used plain fine grit sand paper) and basically
performed a mini-dermabrasion on the chair. It was neat
watching years of stain, dirt, body oil and light scratches
mostly disappear. Once it was clean and porous, I decided to change
the color as well.

I vacuumed all of the crud away and then I rubbed the leather
with rich brown water-based gel stain applied with
clean cheese cloth. The leather soaked the stain up in big gulps.
This stain is the kind of stuff you find in a can at your local
hardware which stains and seals in one step, advertised for

The tones varied according to how lightly or hard I rubbed it. That
was great because the effect was an antique bomber-jacket patina --
a very expensive look. Some of the deeper scratches picked up deep
color which was attractive too -- instant distressing! I let that
dry overnight.

The next morning I rubbed in an over-coat of walnut Bison wax
and hit it with my hubby's car buffer. It looked wonderful! I
was amazed, kids were amazed, hubby was really amazed and
didn't even complain because I used his priceless tools.
The finish now felt supple and smooth plus that bison wax
smells nice too.

I would have shared this immediately but I wanted to make sure it
didn't rub off to discolor skin or stain clothing ----
BUT!!!---- months have passed, and there haven't
been any problems at all with it. This project was a great
investment of time (not much) and money (not much).

In this economy, we all should spread the word of anything that
helps us to make-do when we can. If you want to try this and still
feel nervous about it, test it on an old leather purse first.
Personally, I'm a real happy camper with this trick ---and now,
who knows? Barring some horrific rip, I can refresh the finish
every few years and may read to my great-grand children in it

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Let's Play Decorator... with an unlimited budget.

Creating the above layout was such fun - like going shopping without spending a dime. makes it possible to go shopping all over the web, import your own photos or photos you find online by doing a search right there and then , after which you can move it all around until you have something you love. I had painted the portrait of my grandmother and I wanted to see what would look good with it if I could have anything I found and liked online. With exception of the gilt framed portrait, everything in the layout, including the sunglasses, is available online.

Once I "published" my choices, the items on my shopping list popped up with the prices. I tallied it all up and the cost would be - 3700.00 dollars. Yikes! I bet I could beat that price to pieces by using trash to treasure substitutes. But still it was a fun project even though the painting is not mine. You have to be sure to click on the photo to see how neat this feature is -Terrific! It was a fun way to play decorator.

I'm thinking it would be awesome for project previews. For instance, my hubby is considering some new landscaping. It would be a big surprise if I were to take a photo of our home and yard, go shopping for plants, shrubs, trees, and flowers, cyber-plant 'em online so we can preview what might work for us with a cost-estimate for us to budget shop and beat. Wow! I'm loving it!

Next I'm making a Hint! card for my birthday this month. I know it would be appreciated because I must be very hard to buy for, since I can't even think of anything I want. I'll probably post it on the frig so my family can't miss it. Can't wait!

To run on over and give it a try - CLICK HERE.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My grandmother's lessons: In good times and bad times, live with joy

I've recently completed the painting, above, of my deceased grandmother. It's a gift for my grandmother's daughter, my mother. I hope she will be pleased with it. I'm delivering this large painting, about 29x32, this weekend to hang above the hutch in the dining room of her new apartment.

While I was painting, I kept thinking what a remarkable woman my grandmother was. I would guess that she was considered "poor" all of her life. Her own mother died when she was nine and her father did not remarry. Like many children of that era, she took on responsibilities that now we would consider burdens, an interruption of childhood. Still, it doesn't explain to me just how she grew up so capable with so much knowledge. My husband believes that little girls of her era had, by nine, learned all they needed to know to run a home.

My grandmother, Mama to all, married young and had seven children. She was an extremely devout Christian, of Pentecost faith, and strictly adhered to the teachings of her faith. She covered her arms, never cut her hair, never wore jewelry or make-up. She was completely without artifice in her grooming and personality. Mama was exactly as you found her - always Mama. If you were at Mama's any Wednesday evening, Sunday morning or Sunday night - you were scrubbed and off to church with her. If there was a revival going on, you attended those as well.

Mama sewed most of her children's clothing, including sweetly embroidered layettes for her sons and daughters and first grandchildren. She was one of many women who delighted when feed sacks began to be printed with small calico designs and made good use of them.

Her beds were spread with wringer-machine washed hand-ironed sheets and quilts stitched with her fingers. Mama was up early to milk the cows, gather the eggs and cook a huge breakfast for her large family and any of the grandchildren or friends of the family who might be visiting. She planted, worked and harvested a huge garden each year (a man-sized garden) and "put-up" the bounty, canning for the winter.

Mama was also the most wanted midwife in the country and pulled a many a calf. Honest, she was a marvel and all of her children just took it for granted that there was nothing she couldn't do and do well.

I painted her on the porch, trying hard to catch the radiance of this good woman, the twinkle in her eye, her relaxed, welcoming posture, her love of flowers, and her beautiful smile. The okra in her lap represents the fact that I don't ever remember her without work in her hands.

How I wish I had asked her where she learned to do so much. The lessons I learned from my grandmother, I hope, have carried over into my life to be passed on to my children and they to theirs - Live, Love, Work & Pray with Joy.

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