Afghans, Clocks and Owls… Oh My!

More Treasures

“Junk is the ideal product…the ultimate merchandise.  No sales talk necessary…” –William S. Burroughs

Here is a little peek at some of the treasures I’ve scooped up at the thrift stores lately.  Perhaps junk to some…. but I think they’re simply divine!  I couldn’t resist the colors in this afghan, and the key holder was just too cute.  The clock has an 80’s vibe that looks good in my craft room along with the vintage sewing book.  Finally, have you ever seen such an enormous owl necklace?  I hope to be bold enough to wear it!  I hope your junking trips have been fruitful!  Happy Labor Day and happy thrifting!

Book Review: “A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life”

More Books, More Decorating, More Treasures

“At the worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”    –Dame Rose Macaulay (1881-1958)

A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life:  How to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc… and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place. (Rizzoli New York)                                     by Mary Randolph Carter  

Have you ever read a book, and thought that perhaps it was written specifically for you?  This lovely book is likely to strike a chord with many of us who live with: collections, memories, children, pets, clutter, work and lots of creativity. Mary Randolph Carter, author of several books dedicated to “junk,”  has written a book that provides much-needed affirmation for those of us who experience a love-hate relationship with our houses.  We hate the burden of keeping them clean and tidy all of the time, but we love to bring lovely things into them, and fill them with the items that speak to us and bring us joy.  Somehow these two desires create a conflict.  Carter’s solution?  Give up the idea that our houses have to be perfect, and simply live in them in a way that brings comfort and joy not only to you, but perhaps more surprisingly, your guests as well!

Seriously, think about the houses you enjoy visiting.  Are they the stark homes in which you feel nervous to set foot inside?  The homes where not a picture frame or throw pillow is out of place?  If you’re like me, you much prefer your friend’s house where you can admire the refrigerator filled with family pictures, paw through the stack of books on the ottoman, tuck your feet under you in a cushy chair, and delight in the creative vignette of collected whimsical items on the mantel.  A little dust?  Who cares.  A friendly dog giving you a friendly greeting?  All the better!

This book is a treasure-trove of lovely photography that gives readers a glimpse into the collected items and lovingly “lived-in” homes of not only the author, but a host of other diverse folks.  These are the kind of homes you want to sneak into and peer into every nook and cranny admiring the chipped vases, distressed picture frames, frayed quilts and stacks of books.  (Take a look at the picture on page 114-115 and you’ll see what I mean!) Truthfully, when I look at the homes featured in many decorating magazines, I say to myself, “No way!  Where’s all of there STUFF?”

Take Away’s:

1.  There really are other people out there who have a compulsion to bring something home from the side of the road or from a junk shop.  They don’t NEED this item, they just love it for some unexplainable reason, and it makes them happy to look at it.

2.  For many beauty lies in the imperfect and the informal.

3.  It’s okay to embrace your home less with the “housekeeper’s broom and more with the homemaker’s heart.”

5.  On page 131, Carter shares her practice of keeping a personal welcome book… a place for friends to jot down their memories of visiting your home.  This idea stuck with me and it is my intention to purchase a simple blank book and some colored pens to encourage my guests to chronicle their time at our cabin in the mountains.  Isn’t that a fun, simple idea?

6.  There’s a fine-line between living with our treasures and being on the next episode of Hoarders.  Be mindful that you don’t cross the line!

7.  It’s okay to have a “purposeless room!”

Favorite Quotes:

“At times you may think you’re crazy to own all these things or else brilliant for finding these treasures so many other eyes missed!”— Liza Carter Norton (p. 27)

“Clutter is the poetry of our homes.  It is a fingerprint of an experience, a souvenir of our childhoods, an expression of our humor, a collection of things that we just can’t live without… Embrace it, make peace with it, take control of it, share it, reorganize it, and when the time seems right, bid it farewell.” (p. 51)

“Never stop to think, “Do I have a place for this?” (p. 259)

Happy Reading! I hope you will pick up a copy of Carter’s book soon.  I found mine at my local library, of course!  Sit down in a comfortable chair with a glass of ice-tea  (Be sure to bring the sticky-notes so you can mark all of the pictures and quotes you will want to re-visit!)  and spend a few quiet hours honoring your creative, imperfect home.  After all, you can dust later!  (You might also like my review of Dottie Angel: the Peachy Crafty World of Tif Fussellhttps://kerriemore.com/2011/10/06/dottie/)

Aside:  On more than one occasion, I have mentioned my favorite magazine Where Women Create created by Jo Packham –  which is a quarterly gallery showcasing the creative spaces of a diverse group of artists.  If you are a fan of this publication, you will know what I mean when I say you want to slow down and savor each picture, admiring each lovely item in these creative spaces.  I felt the same way about Carter’s book. On more than one occasion,  I would put the book right up close to my nose to try to figure out what lovely item was tucked on the corner of a shelf or under a table.  That’s how I enjoy each lovely issue of “Where Women Create”!

(Photo CreditsA Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life by Mary Randolph Carter published by Rizzoli New York.)

A Place to Hang Your Hat….or Coat….or Scarf…..

More Crafts, More Decorating

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.  ~Thomas Babington Macaulay

Check out my handmade yardstick coat hanger!  I ran across this project idea in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and I instantly loved the look of it, so I set out to collect as many vintage yard-sticks as I could find.  Ultimately, I was hoping to find them all from our local hometown businesses, as well as the small towns where my husband and I grew up, as that would be more sentimental.  However, they were hard to find!  I did find several at some consignment shops from far-away places, but they still had some unique and interesting “patina,” so I picked them up from $5.00 – $10.00. With help from my in-laws, I was able to get one from the Coast-to-Coast store in my husband’s small hometown in Eastern Montana, and of course, I found one in Grandma’s Attic!  (I’m always giving thanks to my Grandma for her collecting spirit!)   I found some antique black coat-hooks on E-Bay that came from an old school.  I love the look of these, because you can see flecks of different colors of paint and a few chips here and there.  We took a board and cut it just slightly larger than the layout of the rulers and painted it with several coats of black spray-paint.  This way it peeks out just a little around the perimeter and “frames” it.  The black also highlights the lettering on the yardsticks and the hooks as well. We have enough yardsticks to make another one, and we’re going to hang them side by side on the long wall in the entry-way at Camp More (the cabin). I think it’s going to add a lot of character to the room, not to mention, it will give us a place to hang our coats after we come back from snowshoeing!

Buckle Up!

More Crafts, More Miscellaneous, More Treasures

Collecting has been my great extravagance. It’s a way of being. I collect for the same reason that I eat too much-I’m one of nature’s shoppers.   Howard Hodgkin

I was scrounging through my messy garage for some wrapping paper when I stumbled upon a box of “goodies” that I gathered from my grandmother’s attic.  Yes, I have one of “those” grandmothers.  Even though she is no longer alive, she has left us with a treasure-trove of STUFF.  Ever the pack-rat, she filled her house and attic to the brim with what many considered to be…. junk.  I, however, have a fondness for junk, and am loving the fact that she couldn’t throw anything away. I found an old coffee can full of cast-off belt-buckles.  No doubt, she was planning to do something with these.  She was one of the original recyclers.  I just thought they looked cool lying together – like a picture.  I’m brainstorming a way to display these properly.  Ideas are welcome….

Opening Doors.

More Crafts, More Decorating, More Miscellaneous

Otis likes to get in the picture!

All doors open to courtesy. Thomas Fuller

Figuratively speaking, the goal of this blog is to help me exercise my writing skills – informally of course, as well as to possibly “open some doors” in the line of writing and presenting for the “artsy-craftsy” community.  So, I’m sharing a hodge-podge of my creativeness for those who want to check-out my catalog of creations.

On my grandmother’s rambling, mountain property, lie numerous “treasures” including…. old rusty cars, abandoned sheds, barns, outhouses, etc.  When my husband and I built our small cabin nearby, we were not impressed at the glaring white sight of the side of the refrigerator staring out at us in the kitchen.  So, when we were wandering Grandma’s junk yard this spring, we decided to take the door off of an old shed sitting in the trees.  It has already been overtaken by small animals and pine-needles, so we didn’t feel too guilty.  We took it home, dusted it off, and retro-fitted the doorknob, so it only protrudes on one side (so it will fit).  Then we cut a piece of wood t fit where the window sat and painted it with chalkboard paint.  We didn’t have any chalk yet, when I snapped this picture, but now we do, and the message says, “The Huck’s are here.  Gone to Miller Creek!” This was such a fun project, and it barely cost anything.  Re-purposing old items and taking finds from trash-to-treasure is one of my favorite hobbies.  Thanks for letting me share!