The Joy of Upcycling

Post holiday ennui tends to kick in between- well, Thanksgiving and the end of the year, really. What most people suffer from in January,  I come down with in December. Part of the blessing/curse of being a trendsetter, I suppose.


Setting trends whilst battling ennui, head cold and limited resources

So! To get back into the swing of things, here's my Living Room Window Seat Recipe:

Ingredients: For the seat: discarded foam mattress topper, old expensive sheet for liner, expensive upholstery yardage, scissors, straight edge, marker, white packing tape, and some calm.



Faithful blogger folds said topper whilst employing straight edge, selfie stick and panache ALL AT THE SAME TIME

Cut the topper so as to replicate a foam seat of sorts, using the straight edge before the scissors so that the line is vaguely straight. Run the marker along the straight edge and cut. Next,  TAPE where ever possible so that the shape of topper fits perfectly albeit marginally. 


Yo, its a bit of upcycling.....


Cut a hearty length of some Barbara Barry for Baker (natch) fabric and then FOLD and tape all accordingly20151125_110022_resized_1



Prior to using the expensive upholstery fabric, take  the nice old sheet and wrap the taped foam concoction. THEN fold and tape as shown above.



Add a not regrettable pillow purchasing frenzy from Home Goods. And voila! Additional seating with a bunch of style.

and they call it puppy love

20151003_145506Began to write all kinds of gnarling gnashing of teeth post filled with angst and dram, but prefer warm fuzzies so can only offer the demise of this summer’s footwear and be so very grateful for everyone being okay and loved ones who know they are such. Cryptic, but there we are. Go Jets!

The porch before renovation

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“It’s all fun and games until some one gets married or pregnant,” a dear friend observed. Looking at this photo is a reminder that for all the whimsy, optimism and cans of groovy paint, if one doesn’t come to some kind of satisfactory arrangement with the loan service provider, its all for naught, ain’t it?  The following is a list of players in this story:

Countrywide Mortgage

Old Merchants Bank





Making Home Affordable

Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac



There are many websites and blogs and countless stories of heartbreak and loss, which I won’t go into, because if I did, this post would never be published!

So that brings me to The Urban League.

As mentioned in my previous installment, a gentleman named Charles at the Urban League of Union County counseled and advised me through numerous applications and reapplications for a Mortgage Modification which I mistakenly believed was unattainable. Last week, Ocwen- the service provider for Wells Fargo- who ironically has my checking account as well as my mortgage- offered me a Trial Modification according to the Hamp2 guidelines. Which should be all very well and dandy, shouldn’t it?

Isn’t it ironic that when you leap over an enormous hurdle with a loved one,  you’re presented with a new challenge? How do you leap over the next one, together as a team? Look at all those great duets: Fred and Ginger, Lucy and Desi, Dino and Jerry, Simon and Garfunkel- None of them last.

Folks who are so brave and so amazing when times are tough can be so petty and arrogant and rude and generally hateful as things start coming together.

My Dad would say, it’s a conundrum.


But we are different now. Our trials and tribulations have changed us. I hope. So, if we’ve  made this huge circle back, to the scene of the crime, as it were, how do we play this hand so as to come out happy and strong and living comfortably in our kick ass big ass house?

The building department closed us down last week when the barter to repair the porch began.


The IRS wants serious money if we’re going to seriously put that difficulty behind us.


We need a new roof.  It’s such a lot of dough to come up with in such a short amount of time.

When my husband paints the ceiling of our youngest son’s bedroom, it all flakes off and falls upon the floor.

The ominous warning, “More tears are shed from answered prayers than-” But we are changed, aren’t we? Please, God. Tell me I won’t just throw up my hands in tears. Let me find the moxie to take no prisoners and get current with this debt.  Let me steer my ship back to the novel I was writing not two months ago and finish it. And do it justice, Lord. And  please Lord, give me the grace to lighten up a little. Amen.

The only fitting Post Script is that in an effort to continue my march towards gracious living nirvana, I knocked over a can of blue paint on the white broadloom of our youngest son’s soon-to-be bedroom.

The pigment is very- well, durable is a fine word. After scrubbing followed by the Rug Doctor for several hours, the spouse removed the broadloom, and guess what?



The floor is also very blue on the original wood floor now, too.

But there’s no use crying over spilt paint. So, on a brighter note, behold oldest daughter applying silver leaf  to my bath tub. Very nice, very nice indeed. Subtle perfection she calls it. Such a class act.


A whirling dervish of clutter and mayhem

20150812_085339Back in the day, early 2005, in fact, my mother was washing a pair of socks in the sink of her bathroom. I had found a gorgeous Russian woman to be her companion, as her health necessitated she have assistance keeping it together. At the same time as my mother washed her socks, she had the television on in her sitting room and I believe, she told me later, the phone rang. The gorgeous Russian was downstairs preparing lunch for them both.

It had been a hard day. The spouse and I were working together, and may have driven home together as well. Walking into the living room, the space seemed somehow different. I looked up and noticed the ceiling had lines running through it like a county map. I looked down and the old oriental rug’s colors seemed darker, more vibrant. I knelt down and the rug was soaked. They had obviously worked hard to clean up the plaster that fell as the water flowed from the ceiling.

We had been in the house about four months, and these were the rumblings of storm clouds in the distance.

The spouse called Kevin and Ralph. They came by, and the ceiling was removed and replaced. Its contents- the room is 12 x 25 feet- were placed in the dining room. The opening was taped off and the contractors were present for a few days. Once Kevin came in and looked around the kitchen. What’s going on here? he asked. Did you have a party?

Well no, it’s just my usual clutter and mayhem. Moving gives you that. It gives you a profound abundance of clutter and mayhem.


A great leap forward and then

many, many little steps backwards. Our water challenge continues unabated. And unpacking. And all of one’s challenges with short comings organizational and domestic rise up to remind one how very modest is the skill set for the above. The folks in the picture below have their organizational selves very, very much together. My heavens. Talk about your black and white story.

The detail on the stairs and door will have to wait for another burst of time and energy. As we count down to the final push, the plumbing’s complexity has necessitated NEW EVERYTHING unlike we had hoped behind the walls, under the floor, above the ceilings.  A mighty, mighty shout out to M.Poz Plumbing and Electrical- they have been so kind and responsive. At first the plumbing seemed like a straight forward re-connect. Instead it morphed into a triage scrambling of exploratory surgery- and these guys just kept moving, getting it done and humoring my marginal approach with improvising and re-purposing all the components and bits required to make the house habitable. So! Without further ado, may I present some Renovation Porn? The following photos have not been enhanced or photoshopped in anyway… this is what happened to my house THIS LAST WEEK.

20150812_085314        20150813_102043     20150814_123309      20150814_094133

The spouse has been emphatic- No camping and no sharing bathrooms (when one has 4 toilets in a residence, that doesn’t seem an unreasonable request)…. As I  fretted over the pink bath, the holes in the walls and ceiling facilitated an unequivocal updating, mitigating the feminine wallpaper quicker than one might say, ‘I declare!’

Not only are the above pics hot Renovation Porn, they also make for good Blog Fodder (that’s a Harry Potter/Black Adder mashup… Oh yes, and then were the power tools and delivery guys who hauled up a mighty heavy, heavy armoire thing I got at the second hand furniture store- It was so compelling, I didn’t pick up my phone to take a picture… Just stood back and admired the magnitude. Stairs up, roaring and up again. Two guys- very much over forty years of age… Closer to sixty, really. Incredible.

I declare!

Commando Painter Warrior – some words on color

The handsome fellow  above is arriving from Texas- Meet Toby (he’s a rescue from death row)


Alone, gentle reader, all alone, your devoted blogger managed to put the comments section ON THE SCREEN….

I think.  Please, feel free to sign in- still unsure if that’s necessary- and let moi know you’ve stopped by.

Back to painting. Cover it up, cover it up- wipe it away. There’s almost nothing a new coat of paint can’t fix. But the thing is, like the language of flowers, there’s so much to be INFERRED by color…end of summer spain


an entire paint deck of inference…. the mind reels.

And I do, gentle reader, I do love white. But in it’s remoteness and billowy stark-ness it screams the  very austerity the Greeks have been trying to avoid, I think. So much to ponder. So am marching f orward with bits of blue and taupe.


20150801_153621           Yesterday spent ENTIRE afternoon cleaning and taping in preparation for Riccardo to come through and transform gun metal grey former teenager’s room into whispering toque white and light, light grey floors… am still on fence with floor and am tempted to leave as is- slap down some shag and see what happens- but a clean grey floor is          SO much better- No?




The other space is a deep blue with white floor, I refer to the blue as the color of sleep, yet may be just too sleepy for others;

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wtf, if they don’t get it then it’s not for them. These are the spaces which will be put to work chez moi. They are on the third floor and have their own bath, a sitting room and simply lend themselves to a multitude of uses- hence one strives to appeal to the widest demographic. But the preparation seems to be endless. It’s one long struggle with the rag, blue tape and shop vac. Ah yes. the shop vac.

Am now deeply smitten by shop vac. My first ever. Brand spanking new and just sucks up that nasty debris without a so much as by your leave. Really great, really powerful, really new. And yet, and yet.

Being middle aged myself, there are those pesky limitations that hinder one’s zeal. Ye old fibromyalgia and the ensuing tennis elbows of a non tennis player.

But that’s the beauty of paint. Once its on, all those things are covered away. That is of course, one prefers the Betsy Johnson-Ralph Lauren mashup I’ve been dabbling with in master bath (door knobs now in the mail).

   before                   during


Have been driving around with yet another toilet in the back seat. Commandeered a hapless roofer (who came to give me an estimate for the roof) to take it out of the car. Yikes. It was really heavy and I did pull the back a little bit, am in fear of stern disapproval from spouse. “Hayes, you shouldn’t be doing that stuff.” Hence, have begun calling movers to get proper quotes….. My goodness. And we’re off!

Other hot topics of this week’s discovery- how to really manage the blogging endeavor- having turned off ‘comments’ am unable to log in really to anything at all. I cower at the magnitude of mediabistro wordpress class offerings, marvel at the Paris Review’s zombie house blog posting. Oh my, theirs is – that alone just seems so well- it’s easy to be 51 and intimidated. Heck.


The spouse glanced at progress today- was stern re: quality of work- bubbles under spackle on sheetrock, and tonight over cocktails, lamented the state of the house’s foundation.

THE HOUSE’S FREAKING FOUNDATION….,,20810744,00.html is how to repoint a brick foundation… I have my doubts… You know?