More About Depression

As I said yesterday, I could write a huge exhortation on the subject of depression.  I feel very passionately about it, having had to live with it for so long without the people around me having any understanding.  Even now, some 10 years after I was diagnosed, I still struggle with family and friends who don’t understand.  Although I have seen a huge shift in societal views of “mental illness,” day to day living can still be a struggle.  I’ll try to keep it as short as possible.

The first thing to know is the signs of depression.  According to WebMD, this is a list of symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

There are 11 symptoms listed here.  I can tell you unequivocally that I have had every single one at one time or another, but usually all at the same time.  This is not just “the blues” that come and go in some people.  This is prolonged symptoms that never seem to ease up.  Even on medication, I still struggle with many of these symptoms, most notably fatigue, feelings of guilt/worthlessness/helplessness, feelings of hopelessness, difficulty concentrating and remembering details.  The medication helps in that I’m able to stop myself from going too deep into those feelings, but it’s still a daily struggle.

Another symptom that is often not talked about is isolationism.  Isolation is different than introversion.  An introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and is drained by being around people.  An isolationist is a person who completely withdraws from contact with people.  I am most definitely an introvert, although I haven’t always been.  However, in my full depression, I am an isolationist.  I won’t call people.  I won’t see people.  I don’t want to chat online.  I just want to be left alone to wallow in my depression.  This is a very dangerous thing because when left to my own uncontrollable thoughts, I contemplate suicide.  In all honesty, there are only 2 reasons why I am still here today – my children and my parents.  If not for the overwhelming sense of guilt that I had of leaving my children without a mother and leaving my parents in a place where they would have to clean up my mess, I may have actually tried to kill myself.  Believe me, I have thought of a hundred and one ways to do it.  Is that hard to hear?  I apologize for my bluntness, but it’s the reality of depression.

Which leads me to the suicide hotlines…I have heard more times on the news and read in more places that if you are in trouble, you should call the suicide hotline.  Apparently this works for a lot of people and the work that these hotlines do is obviously important.  So, don’t get me wrong when I say that this does not work for everyone – it wouldn’t have for me, anyway.  When I am in that state of complete meltdown, feeling that uncontrollable worthlessness and helplessness, feeling unbearably hopeless, there is not a stone’s chance in hell that I would ever pick up a phone and tell a complete stranger.  The shame and guilt that I feel when I have reached that point are much too much to overcome to pick up a phone.

What I can say is that there are often many signs that come from me before I reach that point that, had a friend or family member been able to recognize it, may have kept me from getting to that point in the first place.  I certainly am not blaming my illness on anyone else here.  What I am saying is that if you are reading this, it is for one of two reasons:  you are suffering from depression and looking to be comforted knowing that someone else feels the same, or you love someone who suffers from depression.  If you love someone, please look for the signs before is spirals to that incredibly painful point of suicidal thoughts.

This leads me to my “well-meaning” friends… I have many friends of many religious faiths, and some of none at all.  I’m going to try and be delicate here, but if you have read anything that I write, or know me at all, you know that I am a “say it like it is” kind of girl.  I apologize in advance if I offend you.  It is not my intention.

It seems to me that many of my well-meaning friends, most of them Christians, have said things to me like “You just need to let go and let God.” Or “You really need to pray about that.” Or “Let me pray for you.” Or “The scriptures say…”  Just to clarify, I am a Christian, so I do appreciate that these friends are at least trying to help in some way.  However, I just want to throw this out as a warning.  Be careful when you throw your Christianisms around.  The Christian world, at least at the church that I was involved in, has a whole vocabulary of things that they say that society as a whole does not appreciate or understand.  I could get into this more, but it’s off topic, so I won’t.

What I will say is this:  when I was at my very lowest point in my life, my most vulnerable point, the point where I most needed help, well-meaning Christian friends said some of these things to me.  In that state of mind, I took it to mean that my faith was not strong enough.  I took it to mean that I obviously did not trust God enough.  I took it to mean that I obviously do not know or understand the scriptures.  And I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth!  I believe that God works in wondrous and mysterious ways.  I believe that God put that doctor I spoke of yesterday into my path to help me.  I believe that God gave man medical knowledge to help people like me.

In my case, admittedly, I am probably hypersensitive in the area of faith (another long store for another time).  However, I have heard this same sentiment echoed in others who suffer from depression.  So I beg you, my faithful friends, please be sensitive when speaking to someone about their struggles.  It is my opinion that saying something like “You just need to let go and let God” is equivalent to saying “I’m judging you because I don’t think you are trusting God enough.”  And you know what the Bible has to say about those who judge others (Matt 7:1-3).

It is my hope and my prayer that the things that I have shared over the last 2 days help in some way.  Although I may have, in the past, referenced my depression, or spoken about it in passing, I have never so publicly put my struggles out there for the world to see.  Depression is a wicked struggle that the world has treated abhorrently until very recently.  My hope is that you, the reader, will either be comforted by what you’ve  read, or will be able to comfort someone who feels the same as I have in my past.

Let’s Talk About Depression

With the death of Robin Williams, depression seems to be the “hot” topic.  I wonder how long it will last?  It seems to me that when someone famous dies of some disease, the disease becomes the hot topic for a while, but eventually fades into the darkness.  I guess that’s because people can only handle real disease issues in small doses.  They need to be sympathetic for a while, but eventually move on in their lives.  However, some of us never move on.

I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember.  I was diagnosed completely by luck after years of searching for someone to tell me what was really wrong with me.  I had gone to the doctor for a pain in my chest.  Turns out, I had pulled a muscle.  As luck would have it, my doctor was specializing in depression.  I remember having blood drawn.  There was a poster in the room that listed 10 symptoms of depression.  As I read the list, I realized that I had 9 of the 10 symptoms.  I thought to myself, “I should probably tell the doctor about that.”  However, as depression often does, I immediately thought, “No, she’ll never believe me.  No one ever does.”  So, I never told the doctor.  As I said, it was complete luck.  On my follow up visit for my pulled muscle, the doctor looked like she was going to leave, but instead put her clipboard down.  She turned to me and said, “Are you depressed?”

The shock and horror in my eyes as I broke down must have been hard for her to deal with.  I cried and cried as she told me she could help me.  No one had ever said that to me before.  For so many years, I went to doctors, explaining my symptoms, trying to figure out why I was the way I was, yet no one could or would help me.  Since I wasn’t totally convinced that depression was an actual “thing” I just went along with what I was told by the doctors – this will pass.  But it never did, and sadly, the diagnosis wasn’t the cure all.

For the next 5 years or so, I struggled with medications.  I tried all kinds until I finally found a combination that seemed to work for me, all the while trying to raise my children and be some kind of wife.  I remember one day; I dropped something in the kitchen.  I don’t even remember what it was, but it sent me into a spiral I nearly didn’t come out of.  I went to my room and closed the door.  I crawled as far back into the corner behind my bed as I could in hopes that nobody would find me and I cried so hysterically I thought for sure this was my ticket to the padded cell.  I remember thinking in my head, “This is crazy.  You dropped something.  So what?  Stop this!”  But I couldn’t control myself; couldn’t stop the unbelievably hysterical crying.

There have been many other days like this along the way.  As a matter of fact, I have been this way all of my life.  When I was a teenager, I had a similar episode.  I was maybe 12 or 13 years old.  I was crying uncontrollably on the bathroom floor.  I remember thinking about the medicine cabinet and wondering what was in there that could end this pain for good.  When I found out that my 2nd husband was cheating on me (again!), it happened again – many times, actually.  When I had to leave my 3rd husband, it was almost the end of me.  I would drive through the hills on my way home from work thinking how easy it would be to just keep driving off of the cliff, like Susan Sarandon and Gena Davis did in that movie.

I’ve read a lot about depression over the past 2 days.  It seems that every article mentions that telling people helps; that knowing that others suffer the same as you helps.  I say HOGWASH!  This may be a solution for some, but for me, it has never helped.  Actually, it just makes me feel more sadly that others have to feel as badly as I do, or worse.  However, if it helps just one person to know that I understand what they are feeling and going through, then this post is worth it.

So, what does it really feel like?  Many describe it as a darkness, a grey that is washed over you.  I have spent most of my days hating myself.  When I was younger, I over compensated for my bad feelings by being overly exuberant in public.  I was the life of the party, the joker, the one with all of the crazy ideas.  I was wild and demanded all of the attention.  I drank a lot to gather my “courage” and overcome the darkness within.  Of course, I hated myself more the next day for having acted like such a twit.  I got angry at the smallest thing and was unable to forget any perceived transgressions against me.

As I’ve gotten older, and more mature, I find myself extremely introverted.  I never feel worthy of anything, including happiness.  If I do something good, it wasn’t good enough.  If I do something bad, I’m worthless.  If something good happens to me, well, it won’t last, so don’t enjoy it too much.  If something bad happens to me, well, I deserved it, obviously.  I don’t go out anymore.  Going to a party is terrifying and causes all kinds of anxiety, even something as simple as dinner with a friend.  I over analyze everything.  My mind is never free of thought.  It’s always racing.  I have trouble sleeping and have unbelievably vivid and terrifying dreams.  I HAVE to read before I go to sleep to allow my mind to think on something other than my failures.

However, with medication, I don’t have suicidal thoughts as often as I used to.  I don’t cry hysterically anymore.  I have a lot more control of my emotions than I used to.  I don’t have the extreme lows that I used to.  With the proper dosage, I find that I can actually laugh and feel joy in things, something I haven’t been able to do in many, many years.

There is such an ugly stigma that goes along with depression.  It’s a mental illness, which, in society’s eyes, means I’m crazy.  When I started my new job, I had to have a physical by the company physician.  They always ask about your medications, and I told him I am on antidepressants.  He told me, “Don’t say anything about them at the workplace.  People will misunderstand and think you can’t perform on the job.”  Unfortunately, I knew he was right.

In my case, I do not produce enough serotonin, which is what controls our emotions.  You can boost your serotonin with things like sugar, which is why I gained so much weight as I got older and caused me to think worse of myself.  Just like a diabetic has to take insulin because they don’t produce it on their own, I have to take antidepressants because I don’t produce enough serotonin on my own.  It took me many years to come to terms with this.  The stigma of mental illness was very hard to overcome.  I had to change my way of thinking.

The one thing that I have read that I know to be true is this:  if you have a friend who is suffering from depression, be there for them.  You may not ever understand what they are going through.  You may have to hear some ugly things.  You may have to watch someone cry uncontrollably while you just hold their hand.  It’s not an easy job.  I can’t even imagine what some of my friends have been through.  When I left my 2nd husband, I would call my friend every day on my way to work and just scream and cry hysterically into the phone.  She was unbelievable in her tolerance of me.  She would listen and sympathize and get mad for me when I didn’t have the strength to get mad myself.  She was my rock when all I could be was sand.  It was a thankless, difficult, ugly position for her to be in, but she held my hand when I needed it most.  I will forever be thankful to her for that!

And there have been other friends along the way.  One of my friends has been with me through almost 40 years of ups and downs (mostly downs).  Some friends come and go, some stay a bit longer, but I thank God every day for the ones who have stuck it through, and continue to stick it through with me.  There aren’t very many, but it’s enough.  Having a friend with depression must be an exhausting experience, one that I don’t think I could handle, to be honest.  I struggle so much with my own demons.  I’m not sure that I could be strong enough to help someone else with theirs, which makes me all the more thankful for the friends who have been there for me.

I could write so much more, but I won’t.  Just know that depression is real.  It’s chemical and uncontrollable.  It’s a disease as any other disease.  It is something that I will have to endure my entire life, but I’m so thankful that it is now being talked about so that others who suffer can get the help they need.

Did I Really Make That?

There is no better feeling than finishing a project, looking it over and being completely satisfied with the outcome.  Sometimes when I create things, my vision does not quite get translated as it is seen in my head.  Not so with this cabinet.  It’s EXACTLY as I envisioned it in my head and I couldn’t be happier.

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Remember this old, ratty cabinet?  Here it is all sanded and ready for a make over.  At first, I thought I would paint it yellow.  I love the color yellow.  It’s so happy, you know?  But when I thought about the tin plates with it, I decided to go with a darker color, knowing that the dark color would really make the tin pieces pop.  And, boy do they!

So, I painted it a medium blue and used dark wax to age it a bit.  I am definitely going for a more vintage/shabby look in my new place.  Then I went to work on the tin.  You can see more about that here.

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As I’ve said, the big question was how to glue the panels on so they would stay permanently.  After much debate, and I mean MUCH debate, my father decided that a mystery adhesive that he used on his tile in my bathroom would work great.  Little did I know the amount of clamping and swearing that would go into attaching these things!

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It was worth every minute of hard work.  Even my parents are in love with this piece.  And a very kind, old friend of mine told me I should be selling these.  LOL!  That was the sweetest thing to say to me and I am humbled by such a compliment.  I will definitely be proud to show off this lovely to anyone who will see it!

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Haven’t decided what is next yet.  I’m taking a bunch of stuff out of storage this weekend, so I’ll be weeding through the boxes of crap to see what is there.  I think I might need to do a craft supply purge soon…

 

 


 

Nothing Finished…

I hate it when things are unfinished.  I have several projects that are going right now and none of them are finished.  I really don’t like to share unfinished projects, but I don’t have anything else to post at this point.  So, here goes…

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The cabinet is coming along nicely.  I finished the second panel and one of the side panels over the weekend.  I also purchased some inexpensive metal knobs for the doors and drawer.  I’m so excited about this and cannot wait to see it all finished.  As usual, there is a big debate as to how to attach the panels.  I want to just glue them on, but my father says that they won’t stay on.  We have debated everything from adding a small molding around the edges to place screws within the pattern.  I’m not liking any of the options at this point, so we are doing 20140406_154742some more research.  Hopefully we will have some kind of conclusion by this weekend, but who knows.

In the meantime, I have spent a lot of time baking and crocheting.   Back in February, I started a project for my dining room table.  I didn’t expect it to go as quickly as it did, since it looked like this when I started…

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It seemed like it would take FOREVER to complete it, but to my surprise, I finished it last weekend.  It’s exactly as I envisioned it.  It hasn’t been blocked yet, so it’s curling on the edges in the photo.  I am the world’s worst ironer, so I’ve asked my mom to block it for me.  She and my dad were busy digging a giant hole in the grass to find their septic tank lid (they’re having it serviced), so I didn’t want to bug her.  I can’t wait to see it all blocked out, though.  It’s so dang pretty!1396402905876

Funny thing is that now that it’s finished, I’m thinking I might use it on the above cabinet instead of the kitchen table.  During the week, I found an amazing pattern on Red Heart for some lovely place mat
s.  I might make a couple of those and use this on the kitchen cabinet.  We’ll have to see when I’m actually arranging my apartment.

Crocheting is something I do at night after work, on my lunch break and during my free time.  I find it relaxing.  I’ve been crocheting since I was about 5 years old, so it’s really a part of who I am now.  Plus, with all of my crafting supplies boxed up in the garage, it’s the only craft I can do without making a giant mess or having to dig to find supplies.  Ha!

I’ve decided that I want to make a bedspread to match my new vintage style furniture.  I’ve looked at tons of patterns, but my mom found the most perfect one ever!  She actually was looking for a pattern for her spare bedroom.  She wants to refurbish the room I am staying in after I leave.  Anyway, when I saw the pattern, and I saw the beginnings of what she was making, I just had to make one for myself.  It’s kind of weird because I feel like I’m being a big copycat, but the pattern is so beautiful I just couldn’t resist.

20140403_171824To make my life easy, I decided to invest in all of the crochet thread at one time.  Although white crochet thread is readily available, if you’ve ever crocheted or knitted a project you know, the color and density of the thread/yarn can change with each batch that is made.  I’m sure that white is white, but believe me, not all whites are equal.

So here’s my GIANT box of 12 jumbo rolls of Aunt Lydia’s crochet thread.  That’s 21 pounds of crochet thread!  Each one of these puppy’s will make 44 motifs.  Since I need to make 462 of them, I need to have a lot of thread.  1396578875370

The process to make just one motif is long and a bit tedious.  However, it will be so worth it in the end.  Of course, the end is probably something 20140406_191026like a year or two away, but I’m okay with that.  Sometimes the best things in life come with time.  It will definitely be a treasured piece once it’s finished and an heirloom at that.  I just wish I had a girl to pass it on to.  Ha!  Maybe one of my sons will give me a grand-daughter…

For now, I will enjoy the process…

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Cabinet

Well, I’m here at work posting from my Kindle because my computer is on the Fritz.  I messed with it for 40 minutes before finally giving up and calling IT. Now they are running multitudes of virus scans and I’m out a computer for a while.  Sometimes I really hate technology!

Happily, using was able to upload my pictures from the weekend to WordPress via my phone app. Sometimes I love technology. LOL!

So, I would worked on the kitchen cabinet this weekend.  My parents were busy with water heaters and cement, so I was on my own.  Since I was unable to trim the other tin blank without my dad’s help, I decided to go ahead and paint the cabinet.

wpid-20140322_112029.jpgwpid-20140322_112020.jpgHere is the cabinet I have been speaking of. Don’t ask me why I love it so much, I just do.  And remember how I said there were two of them but I only have one?  Well, my husband told me this weekend that there are indeed two of them!  I don’t even remember this, but apparently the other one is in storage. I was so excited to find that out!

Anyway,  I decided that I wanted to paint this a nice medium blue color to really allow the punched tin panels to pop. I think the darker color around the the bright tin is going to look fabulous.

wpid-20140322_142556.jpgI’ve already spoken about painting with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in my post about the refurbished chairs.  For this project, I used Abusson Blue.  I painted around all of the edges and the top, leaving the front door panels and the side panels unpainted. I want to glue the tin panels directly to the wood.

wpid-20140323_122207.jpgAfter I painted, I began the grueling process of waxing.  I really love the effect that the dark wax gives the furniture, but the process is long and arduous!  It took me about an hour to paint two coats of paint, but it took about 4 hours to get it all waxed!

 

wpid-20140323_120230.jpgI’m really happy with the way it turned out.  I can hardly wait to see the panels installed.

Hopefully next weekend…

Boxes, Punched Tin, and a Surprise Visitor!

This past weekend was full of fun and adventure!  I revisited the boxes I finished painting last weekend.  I wanted to add some fun graphics, but wasn’t really sure how to go about doing it.  My initial thinking was that I would “trace” some things onto a few boxes.  But the more that I looked at the images, the more I realized that would be A LOT of work… and precious time, which I have too little of.  So, I finally decided that I would do a gel medium transfer instead.

First, I printed out a whole bunch of graphics from The Graphics Fairy.  If you have not seen this website before, I encourage you to check it out.  They have the most magnificent graphics for all kinds of projects.  The graphics are all available in reverse, so you can print them and transfer so easily.  Best of all, all of the graphics are FREE!  No kidding!  A virtual treasure trove, I tell you…

20140315_101650I don’t want to have graphics on all of the boxes because I think it will be much too busy.  So, I decided that I would have six boxes in my medium Expedit with graphics.  (There are 16 box spaces in the medium one.)  Once I decided which six graphics I would use, I printed them in reverse on a laser printer and trimmed them very closely.  In all of the image transfer instructions that I read, not one of them told you to do this.  Let me tell you, it makes a huge difference.  The transfer will come out looking a bit like a transparent sticker.  If you don’t trim your image, you will have a lot of gel medium around the edges that will look “milky” for lack of a better word.  I wanted these to look kind of like old advertising boxes not like I had slapped a sticker on them.

Anyway, trimmed images in hand, I chose my various boxes and went to work.  First, you slop on some gel medium.  You can use any type of gel medium, but I wanted a matte finish, so I used Golden Matte Gel Medium.  This is kind of like a paste, so you just paint an nice layer on, like you would with paint.  Brush the medium onto the printed side of the image.  I placed the images onto the box, gel side down of course.  I rolled a brayer over the back side of the image to get all of the bubbles out and to be sure that the image was on the box well.  Be careful during this step.  The wet paper is delicate and can tear easily (don’t ask me how I know this!!).

20140315_141430Allow the gel medium to dry COMPLETELY.  I am always in a hurry to get things done and this is the hardest part for me.  Luckily, it was a hot weekend, so the gel medium dried very quickly.  However, it is recommended to wait for at least 8 hours.  Once the gel is dry, you can start the fun process of removing the paper from the image.  Use water to wet the back side of the paper (the paper is wet in this image).  Rub the wet paper and you will begin to see it rolling off of the image.  I used a rag to do this because I didn’t want to have sore fingers!  Keep rubbing until all of the paper is removed.  Don’t rub too hard, especially around the edges, or you might rub your image right off!  I rubbed all of the paper off, then gave it another good rub to get all of the linty stuff off.  The results are amazing!

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20140315_150328Even my perfectionist father was amazed at the results.  My mother loved them as much as I do.  I told her that is it so good to have something that makes you smile in your home.  These are definitely smile worthy and will make me smile every day!

So, while my parents were debating the best way to add a top coat to the boxes (it’s been quite the debate in our house), I decided that I would start working on my next piece.  One of the pieces that I kept from long ago is a small cabinet.  I use it in my kitchen for extra storage.  There is just never enough cabinet space for all of my cooking goodies.  I adore this piece, but it’s seen better days.  I’ll have a picture of it when I run through the whole refurbishing of it.  Again, I don’t even remember where I purchased it – IKEA, Target… Not sure.  It’s a cheap piece for sure, but one I don’t think I could live without.  As a matter of fact, I had two of them at one time, but I left one for my ex-husband when I moved out.  Dumb move because he just sold it in a garage sale.  **sigh**

20140316_142257Anyway, I decided that I wanted to make this piece look like a pie safe.  Have you ever seen one?  They are so super cool and vintagey (I think I just made up a word!).  Originally these pie safes were just that, a place to keep your pie safe while it was cooling.  They are made with punched tin.  The holes in the tin would allow for air to flow and cool your pies.  Well, I’m not a pie girl, I’m a cake girl actually.  But obviously, I don’t have a purpose for the air flow.  So, I decided that I would just glue the punched tin onto the doors of this cabinet to give it the same look.  Oh my, is it going to be FABULOUS!

Here, my dad is cutting the tin blank down to size.  I ordered tin blanks and patters from Country Cottage online.  This place is great!  They have everything you would need to make your own punched tin.  You can also buy finished pieces from them.  Being the DYI kind of girl, I just ordered the components.  The tin comes all wrapped and super protected with instructions on how to punch and how to age it if you would like!

20140316_153548Because the pattern that I chose came in a smaller size than my door, I had to modify it a bit.  Basically, I just made it a bit longer, and I added a curve at the top and bottom border to match the way the cut out in my door looks.  I used a spray glue to glue the pattern down to the tin because my dad was very worried that it might move if I just taped it.  I think you could just tape it and it would be fine.  But, my dad is always right, so I let him use the spray adhesive.  I taped the tin with the pattern down to a wood plank (we used MDF, but particle board would work as well), and started punching.

20140316_153609If you have ever punched paper while making a card or scrapbook page, you can do this!  It’s exactly the same, except you use an awl and hammer.  The more times you hit the awl, the larger the hole becomes.  I have to say, though, that my arm and fingers were tired after all of this punching!  But the results are TOTALLY worth it!

2014-03-16Isn’t it beautiful?  I have three other panels to finish before I can start the painting and finishing.  I’ll have one in each door and one on each side (with a different design).  I’m so excited!  I can’t wait to get it done.

After we finished playing outside, we discovered that we had a not so little visitor come up to our back door.

20140315_151013It’s kind of hard to see in this picture, but I wasn’t going to get too close!  Coiled up on the left side of the image is a nice rattle snake!  This thing was rattling away right outside of our back door!  Funny thing is, my cat, Freddy, had been staring out the door all morning very intently.  We couldn’t figure out what he was looking at.  I thought it must be some flying bug that had interested him, but in hindsight, I think he saw this ugly thing under some of the patio furniture.  I guess we should pay more attention to what the cats are looking at.

Anyway, after about ten minutes of stewing and grumbling about what we were going to do about this snake, my dad took a shovel and tried to kill it.  Because the snake was all curled up, he couldn’t get to him.  So, my dad, being the brave man that he is, ran around the side of the house and came up behind it.  He… well, I think the picture speaks for itself…2014-03-15

My dad is the bravest man I know.  Even in this state, it was still spitting venom!  After the melee, my mom counted the rattles… 5.  This was a six year old snake.  Yuck!  Took a while to calm down after that adventure!

Progress on the Boxes

It was a beautiful weekend here in Southern California.  There was a nice breeze, but it was a little hot for my taste.  However, it did make for some lovely painting weather.  I’m getting a little worried that I won’t be able to finish all of my painting projects before it gets REALLY hot!  For now, I’ll just chip away at the rather long list…

20140308_100643I own several IKEA Expedits… 3 to be exact.  They are great for storing lots of crafting junk!  I have A LOT of crafting junk!  Two of my Expedits hold almost all of my crafting junk – the larger two.  The smaller one I use on its side as a TV stand (which is PERFECT, actually).

The only problem that I have with the Expedits is that they ALWAYS look messy.  No matter how much I try to organize them and keep them neat, they still just look like I’m storing a pile of junk (which I am, but I don’t necessarily want people to see that).  IKEA sells boxes and doors for the 12×12 slots, but the nice ones are kind of expensive when you consider I need to have 36 boxes/doors.  I did purchase some crappy boxes for $6, but they fold flat and have no support on the bottom – a really BAD idea for a box full of glitter containers (trust me!).

While debating this problem with my parents, they said that they could make wooden boxes for me to use.  I balked at the idea, knowing how much work would be involved.  However, they insisted, and even began making them before I knew it!  20140308_105928

At first, I thought I would just leave them natural, which is the same color as all of my Expedits.  But then, I decided it would be fun to stain them, whitewash them, and maybe even stencil on them.  I also decided, in the process, that I would paint all of my Expedits to go with the more vintagey/shabby chic/steam punk/junk style that I’m going for.  Am I a sucker, or what?

So, last weekend, I began to tackle the humungous task of staining/whitewashing the boxes.  I began by sanding all of the boxes.  THANK GOD my father had a sander because doing this by hand would have SUCKED!

20140308_114554Next was the beginning of the fun – staining!  If you have never stained wood before, let me tell you, it is a messy process!  Despite wearing gloves, I had it all over my arms, my clothes and even in my hair and on my face!  Of course, I am a crazy crafter, so that was bound to happen.

I used water based stain because I wanted to have a bit of a learning curve.  Plus, the colors that I wanted were all in water based stain.  But really, oil based stain is really stinky and can be hard to work with.  Luckily, I’m not very picky and I wasn’t looking for that perfectly stained wood look (to my father’s horror).  I think this whole process has just about put my father under!  He is a total perfectionist and has no understanding of my “sloppy,” non-perfect ways.  I’m more of a messy, slop it on kind of girl.  20140308_115924

Anyway, I watered down the colors a bit because I really wanted to have a kind of used look to the boxes.  As you can see in the picture, the colors were very vibrant (which I loved), but it just wasn’t the look I was going for.  So, I slopped some water onto the wood, painted some stain on, then wiped it off almost immediately.

The result was still darker than I wanted, believe it or not.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE how the stain picked up all of the beautiful wood grain, but they are just darker than I would have hoped for.  No worries.  That’s where the whitewashing came in.

20140308_134615Using Annie Sloan’s Old White Chalk Paint, I made a really watery paint by adding water.  I didn’t want to dump the paint out of the can because I wasn’t sure how much I would use.  So, I just painted a nice slick of water onto the dry, stained boxes, put a very small amount of paint on my brush and went to town.

Whitewashing is a lot like staining, only with paint.  I would paint on the whitewash, then use a rag to wipe it all off.  I know that sounds crazy, but it’s really the process.  It’s really great when your rag gets all sopping wet with white wash and you can use it the kind of go over some of the spots you missed.  I loved this process, even with my dad making faces behind me.

After hours of sanding, staining, painting and waiting for things to dry, I was able to complete all 16 boxes for my medium sized Expedit.  We still have 20 more to go, but my parents are still building those, so it will be a while before I start working on those.

20140309_15074820140308_161752I’m super happy with the way they turned out.  I LOVE the fact that they are not all the same color or texture.  Next week, I plan on stenciling/transferring images onto them.  Then I will seal them with a top coat for protection from dirty fingers!  I’ve already printed about a hundred and one images to pick from!

Ta ta for now…