February 8, 2015

A little something different. A story about recovery.

"Recovery is a process.  It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes everything you got." ~anonymous

Everyone has a story.  A series of events that have shaped them to who they are today.  Some people are able to take these events and use them as a teaching tool.  "What have I learned from what happened?"  Or, most importantly, "What can I take away from this situation to better myself?".  It is really hard to change your mind frame when you are in or coming out of a situation where you are left feeling hurt.  But, "hurt" and "frightened" are our best teachers.  For, with out these, we wouldn't know "happiness" and "courage".  I myself have been handed hardships, as we all have in our lives at one point or another.  But, lets not compare "who has the saddest story", let's instead compare, "who has the best life lesson".  I want to know what you have learned in life that has made you the person you are today.  I call this, the recovery stage.

The recovery stage is when we are able to see past all the negative and turn them into something positive.  I had lived my life a certain way for 14 years.  It wasn't a healthy life. Unhealthy in the choices I was making.  The way I was allowing someone to make me feel.  I was allowing someone else to have control over me.  To have control over the way I think, feel and act.  I was allowing myself to disappear.  I had gotten to the point where I felt trapped, lonely and very depressed.  See that word "allowing"? Thats the key word here.  For the longest time I was saying "this person is making me feel this way" or "this person is doing this or that to me"  No, I was "allowing" them to do this to me.  I had to stop and think about that.  I was allowing someone else to live my life.  So, I made a choice, instead of thinking of all the hard, and sad, and painful decisions I was going to have to make to get myself back to where I wanted to be, I just did them.  When you are feeling down, theres only one way to go, up.    

I could have been mad.  I could have been hateful, angry and felt sorry for myself, but I didn't.  I chose to look at things a little differently. I chose to look at my past 30 years as a book.  What had a learned in each chapter?  What had I come away with that I could use to help me go further in life?  By moving forward with out stepping back, I have been able to be thankful for what I have been through.  I am where and who I am today because of my past.  When we are able to let go of all the negative feelings associated with situations, we can start to see that good that came out of them. This makes for a much happier you.  It helps you to feel more at peace.  

By nourishing our bodies, it can also help to nourish our minds.  Believe it or not, 70% of our mental health starts with our guts.  Feed your bodies well.  Mind, body and spirit.  Everything feeds off one another.  A lack of sleep, is going to effect your eating habits and the way you feel through out the day.  Eating "not so good for you" food is going to effect the way you sleep and your motivation through out the day.  Healthy minds make good decisions.  Start by going for a brief walk during the day.  Breathe in the fresh air (even if it is cold).  Instead of a donut, have a piece of fruit.  One thing I learned is not too expect too much too fast.  Recovery is a process.  Take steps that make you feel comfortable, just as long as you keep moving forward.  

Happy Healing my friends! ~Amanda

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January 24, 2015

How to paint and distress wood

"Collect things that you love, that are authentic to you, and your house becomes your story" ~Erin Flett

Hello, my name is Amanda, and I am a Goodwill junkie.  Phew, felt good to get that off my shoulders.  But for real people, whose with me?  There are a huge amount of treasures at your local Goodwill.  Like this little gem I picked up for $5.00.  My desk was looking awfully lonely, and needed a partner in crime.  The moment we locked eyes, I know she was a perfect fit.  She was a nice solid, sturdy girl who needed a little TLC, and I was up for the challenge.  Confession, ("these are my confessions", anyone else just have that Usher song playing in their head?...no?...ahh ok then, moving on) I have never painted a piece of furniture.  Gasp!  I know.  I have always stuck to miscellaneous spray painting projects and my occasional inspirational sign, but never an actual piece of furniture.  This was going to be my first "big girl" project, and I was diving in head first, ready to get my hands dirty.  

So, lets get started!

Here she is.  Do you see all the potential I see?! Side note, these pictures are all taken in my "work space" so the lighting isn't the best, and theres occasional "background noise" (hint: future project in the background here...see it?)  It looks like there at least 2 coats of paint and upon further investigation, I was right.  They were very thin layers of paint and would be easy to sand off.  That made her super easy to rehab since I didn't have to strip any paint off.

After giving her a little rub down with some heavy duty cleaner (she was a dirty girl) I sanded her down.  Yes, I am going to keep calling her, "her", so please don't make this weird.  As I was sanding, I was making note of where the natural curves and wear were on the chair.  This was so I could refer back to it when it comes time for distressing.  

After going through my Home Depot specials.  I chose a Valspar satin yellow base paint, no name because it was an oops paint.  This is where the lighting comes in.  Here she looks more yellow-y, but in reality she's more of a bright olive green.  I thought it was a nice bold color for her to start out her new life.  I didn't prime first because there were not any marks or dark paint to cover.  I did however apply two coats (shown is just one coat).  And, that little crack in the front, I left it, it builds character. 

 Now, this is where we pull out our mental pictures from earlier...no, not those ones...the ones of the chair.  Before I started sanding, I looked over the curves of the chair and where I thought the chair would age naturally if it were loved and loved some more.  Pulling all my mental images together, I grabbed my sander and went to town (fingers crossed) I found the legs to be a little challenging.  Naturally, chair legs don't get too much wear, and if they do, its towards the bottom.  I wanted it to all flow better so I just skimmed the sander across the legs.  I also sanded a little harder on the top of the chair (you know, where someone would grab it to move it), the back where you lean back on the chair, and the actual seat itself.  

 After, I felt like she still needed something.  A little extra sumin, sumin.  I remembered my Dollar Tree decals I had left over from making my signs.  The hard part was getting them to spread evenly across the chair.  Every letter was separate (steady hands and a good eye).  Once I was satisfied with the decal (many hours later..no, not really, but close)  it was time for the final coat.   I used Mini wax poly acrylic sealer finish.  I chose a poly acrylic finish because it is water based and super easy to clean up.  Trust me, I had a little mishap and this stuff went flying.  I made quite a mess but it cleaned up quickly with soap and water.  Phew! 

 So, here she is, in all her glory.   She stands proud now, can't you just see her smiling.  Here you can also see where I did the heavier sanding.  I was pretty happy with the outcome and super pumped for the next project.   I can't wait for the warmer weather and yard sales!!!

Happy sanding! ~Amanda

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January 4, 2015

Easy DIY inspirational sign

"She believed she could so she did"

I came up with this idea while walking through Dollar Tree one day.  I found these, oh so cute wall stickers, grabbed a couple and got to thinking.  It would be super easy to make one of those adorable inspirational signs you see everywhere. You know, the ones that are going for $10-$20.  Well, I'm going to show you how you can make one for less than $5, no artistic skills required.  Both the stickers and the sponge brushes can be found at Dollar Tree, Mod Podge at any craft store and the scrap piece of wood, any man's garage ;)

So, let's get started!

I love going to Home Depot or Lowes and screening the "oops" paint section.  There are always sample size containers of a mix of colors.  They best part, they're usually only $1.  See pretty blue color above, Lowes special.  I have a bunch of these little guys lying around and they last me quite a while.  The scrap piece of wood was a remnant from one of my grandfathers endless projects.  And the package of different size sponge brushes can be found at the Dollar Tree, along with the sticker of your choice.  

Use the sponge brush to paint a thin layer of paint on all sides of the sign.  Remember, you are going for a distressed look, so don't be too perfect.  This is also one of the reasons I love using a sponge brush.  It leaves a nice amount of paint and naturally goes on un even.  Bonus, the brushes are easier to get paint in the little nooks and crannies of any project your working on.  You want to make sure you are leaving clean strokes.  Starting at one side, and ending at the other, following the grain of wood.  This will leave a nice smooth surface.    

Once the paint has dried (I usually leave it for 24 hours) use your sandpaper to distress the wood.  I choose to go heavier on the corners and the edges of the wood (see above) Make sure to round off the corners and smoothing out any potential splinters.  Then lightly sand the top of the sign, leaving a smooth surface for the sticker to adhere to.  

Apply sticker and use the Mod Podge to seal it.  I use a sponge brush for this too.  I usually cover the whole top surface of the sign with the Mod Podge to make sure it stays.  Make sure not to apply it too heavy and apply evenly, or you won't be able to see what's underneath it.  Once that has dried, I used a stain and lightly apply it to the exposed areas of the wood around the sign.  Then I wiped it off leaving behind a nice distressed look.  Once all of that has dried (another 24 hours) I spray on a clear acrylic sealer.  You can use a gloss or matte finish sealer, depending on the look you are going for.  I personally like the matte finish.  I used twine and upholstery tacks to hang the sign. (sorry, forgot to take a picture)
And, that's it, easy peasy!

It's ok to step back and admire your work, go ahead, no one's judging. ;)

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Happy Creating!!! ~Amanda