November 29, 2008

Let the Sales Begin!

I am a big old pimp for my shop today; do I look good in the fuzzy hat?

Maybe in purple…

In addition to my own shop I also want to highly recommend some items that simply amaze me. Cyber Monday is right around the corner so get with the shopping before these fabulous goodies are all gone!

Favorites from my own shop

Favorites from other shops

Happy shopping, happy sales!

Buy handmade and go green!

November 16, 2008

Beyond Cool

Wowsa, yesterday was great! I chatted with so many different people, handed out tons of cards, discussed the importance of using upcycled material in my designs, saw some family and friends and even sold a few items which had me not only reaching where I wanted to be but exceeding the goals I had set out for the day. WOO HOO!

My Mom did this fair last year and convinced me to give it a go because there was fairly decent traffic and a nice mix of buyers and sellers. She was not wrong! We were lucky enough to request tables right next to each other which was great so we could man each other’s booth when one of us had a need to venture out. Here are the original set ups; we both adjusted placement of materials as the day went on and after doing so both of us got more sales. Coincidence?

I promised to keep everyone updated on the progress of the entertainment center construction as well and Matt certainly got his pallet on yesterday! He located a coffee house in Brighton who was advertising on craigslist that free pallets were available behind the store for anyone to come and snag anytime they like. Some of the reasons he went with that particular one were because he figured they would be sturdy pallets due to the weight they would have to bear as well as a lack of leaked material on the wood which could mean mold or just yucky smells. Other than the aromatic smell of coffee, which if you know us at all is not exactly something we consider a detriment, the wood was mold and smell free.

He was able to acquire a good number of pallets that could be broken down on site (not always possible) and where he did not have to take everything just to get a few good ones (something many places actually required). When I arrived home yesterday he was out on the balcony removing nails and pieces from each other with a bunch of tools.

It took him a good five or six hours to complete everything yesterday from driving over there to completing disassembly but at the end of the day he had a nice stack of lumber drying on the balcony, ready to be planed down.

Since we are attempting to construct this unit completely for free (meaning we do not want to spend any money we have earned from jobs to pay for necessary material needed for construction like hardware, screws, biscuits, glue, paint, etc), as well as reduce the clutter in our apartment, I knew it was time to sell a few more items on craigslist as well. Friday afternoon I posted our old dehumidifier that we still had hanging around from the days of owning a house with a wet-ish basement.

Up until Friday we had been using it as a stand for our bedroom fan; not really operating in the way it should be (plus Matt can just build us a new stand out of pallets right?). Well while he was deconstructing on the balcony, I was in our living room meeting up with a guy who saw the ad on craigslist and came to buy it. Cha-ching. Fifty dollars immediately went into the entertainment center fund and someone who needed it would be putting the dehumidifier to use in its correct function! That will surely acquire a goodly portion, if not all, of the necessary materials we need to finish this baby up.

Matt just wrote up a little something on his pallet retrieval experiences; those who are inclined can read it here.

Based on his calculations we are currently at +$49.18. Yippie!

November 14, 2008

A Haphazard Mish-Mosh of Arbitrary Madness

That, or “this is going to be a whole bunch of random stuff that has nothing in common other than it is all what is going on in my world right now which is sometimes inconsequential but always all over the place”. Guess that title would be a little too long so I’m happy with the one I went with instead. So then let’s get on with the jumbled mess I call my daily world.

First and foremost this is the last time I’ll be pimping to get as many people as possible out to the FUMC Craft Fair in Melrose tomorrow. 645 Main St 9:00 - 1:00.

All my bags

Are packed

I’m ready to go!

Now that the sales will commence and the production of all those upcycled fabrics lessens, we can finally get our house back together. It is going to seem like we have so much space in our teeny apartment and the quilt-like layer of tiny threads all over the carpet will succumb to the vacuum on Sunday during football. Yee-haw!

Recently Charmaine posted a link to a really fun site where I spent some time “yearbooking” myself into a bunch of different time periods. It made me chuckle to see myself in these different eras but what was really funny is that the 1990 photo is scarily too close to my actual yearbook picture from 1991.

How much hairspray would this take?

I always wondered what I would look like with an afro.

To bang or not to bang?

See what I mean? Talk about hairspray, ugh.

Tomorrow Matt is going to hit the road and start acquiring a trunk load of pallets so we can start construction on our entertainment center. It is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch this thing come together. Nothing like acquiring material for free to create an enormous piece of furniture. I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed that it comes out nice because he already has plans to build a bunch of other functional furniture pieces using this free stock of lumber. That should keep him out of trouble for the entire winter and then he and B can bond over manly things like sawdust and planers while S and I bond over shaking our heads at the guys but enjoying the fruits of their labor.

November 10, 2008

Nip Tuck Color

A month or so ago I took the time to update my blog template but I completely forgot about, or rather neglected, my company website. As a company I have a logo, standard font, etc. and the color scheme / layout I had chosen was similar to the old blog -- basic gray background with a cranberry header bar. After I hired Judi FitzPatrick Studios to create a kick ass direct mail postcard image to drum up new wall treatment business, I was inspired to make the change. Here is a screen shot of the original snooze-inducing website that I had been happy with for the past year.

It is not a bad looking site -- streamlined and clean -- but definitely basic.

I am a big believer in the fundamental premise of ‘ask and you shall receive’, along the lines of visualizing what I want and then getting it. When I officially opened my business last fall I announced that my goal for it was to be up and running, fully operational and making a small profit within the first year. I am proud to say that exactly what I asked for happened and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to work on my own and for myself while delivering the highest of standards to my clients. It has been a fun year of discovering new techniques, realizing where my true passions lie and feeling out where I want the real focus of my company to head.

As a new year begins for Chucka Stone Designs there are things I am asking for, expect to work on and fully intend to get by next fall. Increasing business in faux, publishing and handbags is where I will strongly focus and I plan to scale back on other endeavors like graphic design and jewelry.

Although I do not consider myself a vain person, I feel that when I perceive myself as looking good it makes me feel good as well. I am confident to go out and flirt with the world, to get anything I want. So today I gave a monster facelift to all six pages of my poorly lacking website so it could feel good and assist in helping me tackle the new goals I have set for this year. Click on the screen shot to take a peek at the newly improved Chucka Stone Designs home in cyberspace. She is one well dressed and snazzy company now if I do say so myself!

October 6, 2008

Top Five

I feel like I am living inside a John Cusack movie right now. As if all the dark and twisted happenings have this undertone of humor that everyone else gets but I never experience because all I do the entire hour and forty minutes is brood. Admittedly his earlier films, like Sixteen Candles, are a bit light and fluffy for my current mood, but his independent stuff after the 1980’s turned up collar era is pretty close to how I feel.

In High Fidelity, one of my very favorite of his performances, it was all about music, how that related to his whole life and what about it defined all his relationships. He made top five lists for everything in his life; the entire movie was based around that premise. So here are some of my own top five, in no particular order.

Top five things I do all the time

Wake up and immediately pour a cup of coffee the size of my head. This corresponds with the fact that I do not speak until at least half of that cup is ingested. Some days it is the entire cup. Believe me this is safer for everyone involved.

Say please and thank you. And mean it. Common politeness is so underrated in society today.

Look at southern California. When the weather report comes on and the meteorologist shows the picture of the entire country, my eyes immediately go right for SoCal. Most of the time I miss the temperature here in the north east because I end up lingering so long over on the other side of the country.

Over analyze. Both a blessing and a curse I guess. As a writer I tend to put this quality to good use most of the time when typing away but in other areas of life it can become a bit tedious. There are days when I really wish I could be one of those blissfully unaware types, a person who never questions anything because they have no idea that they should. It would be so cool to truly be able to live in the moment without my brain always wondering what it all means.

Start things that I never finish. School, countless novels, career paths, relationships, living my dreams. The list goes on an on and it makes me good at everything but great at nothing. This is not to say that I never finish anything however, it is just that my moods and interests wane; sometimes the big things I was so enthusiastic about at first bore me after a period of time and I need to move on.

Top five favorite finishes

Stripes. Tough to complete because there is so much prep involved but they are one of the most versatile, gorgeous finishes. They can be done in so many different ways (product, color, size, etc) to achieve the perfect effect. The boys nursery is done in nine inch wide, alternating, strie stripes. It gives a wallpaper effect.

Brick. Talk about prep time but very loft chic!

Stainless steel. I have not actually installed this anywhere yet but I am dying to do so! Want to hire me? I’ll put it on your backsplash, kitchen cabinets or anywhere that sleek look is desired. Go ahead and give me a call. Have brush will travel.

Stone with veining. Another fun finish for its versatility. It looks really hot in a bathroom as tiles under chair rail.

Crosshatch. This picture shows a chameleon beige base with a pearl glaze in very flowing crosshatch basket strokes. Everywhere in the room and at all different times of the day the finish presents entirely different. For example on the lower right wall it looks like a solid color but in late afternoon the skylight above shines off the pearl and it reflects beautifully.

Top five movie quotes

“You’ll meet them all again on their long journey to the middle.”
Lester Bangs, Almost Famous

“My darling girl, when are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage.”
Aunt Frances, Practical Magic

“But I am an artist. I am an artist. Hey! I am an artist!”
Samantha James, Just Friends

“On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”
Narrator, Fight Club

“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”
Rob Gordon, High Fidelity

August 18, 2008

You Are Allowed To Pop Out Anytime Now

The nursery is complete. Furniture has been constructed. The shower is over. S is growing increasingly more uncomfortable by the day. Names have been chosen. Well, OK, in all fairness no real names have been chosen but for the last month the babies have been referred to as Hammer and Anvil by B and just the other day I heard S use the names too so I guess its official. Believe me, this is far better than Helmüt and Thor which were circulating for a while. Yeah, those never really caught on with S. I wonder why?

With the nursery walls complete they will need to accessorize. I am thinking of buying them this lino block print by beeczarcardsandgifts:

Guess Rock Band will be out for roughly the next year. I have no idea where we will store all those components but it looks like we are going to have to break down and buy it. I swore there would never be a gaming system in my house but as with so many other things in life it is important never to say never since most of the time that is exactly when it will happen.

The culmination of many projects came to a close this past week and the start of two more begin this week. Man I love being busy!

First are the two bags I was commissioned to design and create for my Mom’s friend. She is giving them to her sisters; one is in New Jersey and the other is in San Diego. I would be more than happy to drop off the latter in person so feel free to fly me on out there. Respectively, the bags are named City Girl and Casual Coast. There is one center section, six outside pockets and four inside pockets which include a cell phone and pen pocket to hold three pens. They take a while to construct but I really love how well these turned out. Perhaps I will make some to put in my Etsy shop once I have wrapped up the next two jobs.

Speaking of the next two jobs, here is the sample board for the strie next week. It is a blue over a yellow-orange so the glaze will show as teal. The base color is called Gingerbread Man and I just love it as a warm and cozy feeling hue. The board looks angelic because it was scanned in so pay no mind to the aura surrounding it. This job will begin Wednesday after I get my car back from the dealer to determine why my pesky check engine light came on a couple weeks ago. I choose to blame it on the rain.

The other sample board will be laid out a little later this morning so no photo yet but it is going to be two adjacent walls of faux brick. I convinced her not to put actual spackle on the walls since she has small children and one out of control matchbox car or toy box lid could be the end of that finish. Instead it will be a multi tone glaze application and some highlight and shading to give the feeling of real bricks.

Now for the big guns: the nursery!

Before with gray rag faux treatment & damaged ceiling

Bye-bye gray!

Yes, measuring out little tick marks, lining up the laser level and taping took an entire day

Voila! Ceiling, trim and strie stripes complete! Just one last step to go…

A cozy nursery for Hammer and Anvil, my soon to be born “nephews”

Sorry S, I had to post the “illegal” picture.

August 13, 2008


That’s right. Awesome is just too weak a word to describe all the fantastic things going on lately and the addition of the ness is completely warranted. I am physically beat but so energized and feeling creative again for the first time in a long time!

First and foremost I am working a few faux jobs again which I completely forgot how much I enjoy doing. There is frustration, sweat, dust and spackle in my eyes sometimes not to mention glaze on my bare knees and falling asleep on the sofa in front of the Red Sox game at nine o’clock, only to wake up at eleven asking Matt “Did we win?” but when it all comes together and I see the ridiculous look of excitement on the face of my clients it is all worth it in the end.

So I started the nursery for S&B this week. Wait, let me back up a little bit. S, as many of you know, is pregnant with twins and was sent home on bed rest a month ago after a quick but scary stay in the hospital. Her baby shower is this weekend but I have very superstitious beliefs about baby showers. I almost never go to them but if I do I will only get a gift for the parents and never anything baby related. For example when M was pregnant years ago I gave my Hospital Survival Kit gift including books she & J would enjoy and a few other time passing activity type items like a board game and some mad libs. The second those boys were born I was shopping for them but not a moment before. With all that in mind, and the fact that S is like another sister, their gift had to be really special. Once they started talking about moving B’s office out of that room I knew exactly what it would be.

We worked together on colors and a finish that would be elegant but still kid, good for boys but not baby blue and something I could get done quick just in case she popped really early. We finally settled on nine inch strie stripes in alternating milk chocolate brown and cornflower blue. Today I spent 5 hours measuring out, tick marking and running the tape lines on all the walls, tomorrow will be the brown stripe and Thursday the blue goes up. It is going to be so killer I wish I was still there painting right now.

Next week begins another strie job in conjunction with some repair work at a client I acquired through my Interior Designer contact I have worked with a few times now. Time to buy a radio as that job will be just me and the walls. Massachusetts is having their “tax free holiday” this weekend so score for saving five percent on everything!

Earlier this week I was humbled and honored to receive this:

Sandra Ree is one of my very favorite new blogs I now try to read every day because she is a sweetie and her photography is a-ma-zing. I could not believe she chose me as a recipient of this blog award and seriously I was touched. Thanks girl! The basic premise is I pay it forward and pass the award on to seven bloggers. I would like to pass this pretty prismatic crystal statue on to: Bridgete, Ginger, Judi, Jim, Kate and Trayce. You all rock bloglandia in your own special ways and I applaud all of you for it!

The dreaded tag occurred this week as well but instead of being bummed about it I welcome the challenge from David! If none of you have ever read his blog be warned that there is a lot of straight shooting and cursing from an amazingly talented writer. I love it. Hope you do too.

And now, seven random facts about me? Bring it on baby!

1. I reinvent myself just about every day. Seriously I have more than enough personalities on reserve for everyone to enjoy.

2. I started smoking again when my sister was in town. No judgment. Someday quitting will stick.

3. Red meat left my diet about 6 months ago and I barely miss it.

4. I love to feel the personal victory that comes with talking to a man about football and knowing more than he does. There was a commercial on for Direct TV a long time ago when the installer was talking about the channels a couple would get and the woman started asking about all the sports she could watch. At the end the man looked bewildered but the woman and the installer bumped fists. I like to think of myself as being that girl.

5. My favorite movie of all time is The Goonies.

6. I really miss having a dishwasher. Unless you count Matt.

7. I always struggle with the seventh random fact because I want it to be one of those heavy hitters that makes people laugh or cry. Yeah, I got nothin’.

So as is my rule I am not going to tag anyone back. If you feel like participating though by all means go for it because random facts are always a fun read.

My final bo-bickety happy dance moment happened last night when I opened my yahoo mail and discovered that a fairly prominent musician I had requested to interview for The Organic Mechanic not only said yes but sent back her responses. I am so excited to post this interview on Friday I could burst right out of this chair. I hope you all get a chance to stop by and read it because she is amazing and so sweet to take the time out of a very busy tour schedule to answer my questions. I hope it helps both her and our blog with a boost!

So that is about it. Time to go fall asleep on the sofa in front of the Sox game.

June 9, 2008

Stand in Awe

As inspired by taking part in some really fantastic comment discussions recently on subjects ranging from pastry to politics, how these things relate to superheroes and the fact that everything old is new again.

When I was a very young girl I lived in a tiny town called Humarock. If you read me over the fall and winter last year no doubt you heard all about it. The beach and that town in particular, have been the inspiration for many of my endeavors. My business name, Chucka Stone Designs, is a direct derivative (Hum-a-Rock, Chuck-a-Stone). Since a couple family members owned houses there I spent nearly every waking moment on the beach as a kid and as many as I could spend each year after. See my profile picture of me at age three. I still like to be barefoot as much as possible. For a short time when we were kids we lived in my grandparent’s house and my favorite thing about it was the fireplace on cold nights. My sister and I would take our night time shower, wash the dishes from dinner and then toast marshmallows while our hair dried and we watched Wonder Woman. We would go to bed smelling like a campfire, without all the pesky bug bites, knowing that girls who owned invisible jets and deflector cuffs ruled.

As I moved into grammar school, the Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and My Pretty Pony reminded me why I was much more partial to trucks and climbing trees so it was no surprise I was drawn to cartoons like Inspector Gadget instead of Muppet Babies. With so many movies being made from old television shows these days it is only a matter of time before someone turns that one into a blockbuster hit. Oh wait, I almost forgot, David Kellogg tried using Matthew Broderick as Gadget back in 1999. It is really hard to keep up.

The current new millennium blockbuster based on a truly one of a kind old time show starred the guy who actually voiced the character of Gadget. How sad that even in 80’s animation Don Adams was pigeon holed into the role of a bumbling idiot spy just like his character Max in Get Smart from twenty years prior.

Now Maxwell Smart was the coolest dork I had ever seen on late night syndication. I mean, seriously, he had a shoe phone for crêpe sake, how could he have not been superfly?

The real secret to both Gadget and Max of course is that they never really did anything right and the women in their lives, Penny and 99 respectively, were the real crime solvers and spy thwarters just like Diana Prince as Wonder Woman. These ladies were the quiet force to be reckoned with even though they were likely dubbed as total geeks; Diana could bench press a football team, Penny’s only friend was a dog and 99 was a multi-lingual violin player.

The moral lesson: Never underestimate the power of a woman. Even if she is a geek, one day she just might save your life or set you free with her lasso of truth.

May 9, 2008

Writers Flood

Recently a friend, one I wrote about a while ago in relation to pretzels and metaphors, came over for tea and we got to discussing her insane dating adventures as if they should maybe be written into a book or something. Since I am a writer that tiny “maybe” turned into a pen, notebook, outline and introduction of a -- life story, fiction, non fiction, autobiography, complete fabrication. So the story will go something like this: My friend is a completely fictional character, all the men are completely fictional characters, the situations they find themselves in and conversations they have are completely fictional; but it is all based on things that have actually happened in her life. I guess the movie credits will read “Based on a true story” or something to that effect. She wants that Gilmore Girls chic to play her in the movie and although I have no idea who that is, maybe the wheels can get rolling now on making that happen.

She and I have been friends for a very long time and all joking aside I am honored she would trust me enough to take all the painful, albeit hilarious, situations that come from dating as a single, divorced mom in one’s mid thirties and spin them into a fun story for the world to read. She is not putting any pressure on me to finish anytime soon because in her own words “there will be plenty of material for years to come I’m sure.” This got me thinking about where material for stories comes from and how I have been so inspired to write for the past year after such a long drought before that.

It occurred to me that I was trying to quiet the inner artist for a very long time, attempting to work at jobs where I was unsatisfied doing nothing more than bringing home a paycheck every month because I thought all I really needed was the money to pay my bills. That was so very wrong because I was miserable everyday even though my bank account was overflowing. It was truly the cliché double edge sword. Now that I have decided it is time to do what it is I was meant to do, there will be no stopping me.

Since age twelve I have wanted to be a writer, and have been journaling since, but now, twenty years later, I am finally pursuing that career path. I chalk it up to the need for life experience to draw from to express my true voice to the world. Even though furious typing is what I see myself doing on a daily basis to fulfill my life, it is not just writing these days that finds me flashing the creative bling.

I have become obsessed with creating many forms of art for fun from digital photography to mixed media collage to website creation to crafting and of course faux finishing.

I bought myself a cute little point and shoot digital that resides in my purse now everywhere I go because you never know where inspiration might appear. A couple weeks ago I came across this sign at a crosswalk, I thought it was cute.

Matt cringed when he saw a photo of himself that I took at a concert the other night but I turned it into something else and he loves it now. Is he cute as a cartoon or what?

My Designer contact in the world of faux asked me to create a sample board that would look exactly like the tile her client was insisting she have on her walls in a powder room. After arriving at the proper base color it was just a matter of applying the plaster like product in layers of various colors, stippling it, veining and spotting the board with glaze. Not too shabby (although the scanned copy looks more pink and does not show the luminous quality of the plaster layers as well as the sample board).

Even though these pursuits are fun I have come to the conclusion that they are really just vehicles to help me stay inspired to write more. Be it this blog, articles published online or the brand spanking new, self published Random Lunacy zine I am selling*, there is no way I will be experiencing a block as long as I keep my eye open for the creative nuances of inspiration the world has to offer.

* Shameless self promotional plug: You can buy my zine by clicking this link or the photo of it above & right. Currently it is only for sale through my online Etsy shop but that could change with Volume 2 due out first week of June 2008!

April 9, 2008

‘Tis Better to Dance with an Overbite than Not Dance at All

The move is complete and somehow we managed to squeeze 2000 square feet worth of things into 580 square feet of apartment. Luckily, 1. Mom was willing to let us store some things until they are sold and 2. The Goodwill drop off location is only three blocks from our new apartment. As a comparison, the basement apartment of my cousin’s house where we lived on Long Island was roughly the same size as this (with literally only six inches of daylight ever making it into that place, creating a virtual dungeon) but even though this apartment could be considered small, I am in love with the daylight that shines through to make it feel so much bigger!

Living room

Office / creative exploration space

That is pretty much the entire apartment, hope you enjoyed the tour.

Unpacking all of our many boxes has meant discovering items I either forgot about (most of which went to Goodwill since obviously they were not enough in my consciousness to require a need to keep them) or remembered being packed away and was excited to “find” again. One of the excitement items was my sewing machine and all the many pieces of fabric that go with it. In our first week here I have already hemmed the office drapery, created the living room curtains from scratch, turned an old shower curtain into a curtain panel for the shower window and made a fabric skirt for the bathroom sink. Last night however was the most fun of all because I learned the proper way (by hand) to hem a skirt during the first sewing class (of many to come) with Auntie.

I acquired this skirt from the massive clothing collection my Grandma left behind after she passed away several years ago. She was even more vertically challenged than me at 4’-10” (I think. That may be generous.), so the skirt may have hit her leg just above the ankle but on me it fell at the how-to-look-as-short-as-possible spot of mid calf. It is a casual style in sunny yellow cotton that I knew would get a lot of wear this summer so I packed up the machine, some supplies and the skirt and headed over to Auntie’s. There would be no way to accurately describe the belly aching laughs we both had last night while I hemmed this skirt (my first hand sewn item ever) but milk almost shot out of Auntie’s nose when we decided that the hem would probably not be complete until she was dead and I would be sticking remnant scraps in her casket, wearing the skirt to the funeral. Perhaps double stuff mint Oreos at 8:30 PM is a trigger for hilarity. I am thinking of wearing it to the show this Friday if the weather cooperates, mostly because I promised Auntie that I will be wearing it every day for the rest of my life. Of course it is much more likely I will be in my plaid shorts.

Something phenomenal also happened last Saturday afternoon; I finally became a non smoker. My torrid affair with the plant of death began so long ago that if those years of smoking were a person, she would be legal to drink by now. I had been trying to quit since about two weeks after I started smoking but convinced myself that I actually loved to smoke until about eight years ago. That is when I tried the patch; after watching my heart literally fling out the front of my chest and hit the wall opposite me about 400 times, I decided to rip that thing off and buy a pack. About a year later I tried what I called the “cold turkey with a straw” method. I carried around a straw that I cut to the exact size of a cigarette and every time I had a craving to smoke I pulled that out and inhaled air instead. I actually quit for about five weeks that way, which at the time I considered very impressive, but air just did not cut it and I went right back. Hearing that the gum was gross and not wanting to pop any pills, I skipped both of those methods. Then last week I was reading one of my favorite blogs and there it was. The Universe answered my pleas for a solution.

By now you all know I am a huge fan of Jason (no last name required at this point) and, like all people I respect and admire, I generally look into the suggestions they make for flicks to watch, music to purchase or books to read. I feel that the people who come in and out of anyone’s life are truly there for beneficial reasons and recommendations they make are probably well worth looking into. Would I consider Jason a friend? We have never met so no, not in the conventional sense of the word, but there are many like minded blog friends I have never met who have suggested various forms of media that I have loved so when I saw on his blog that he became a non smoker two years ago with a book he read I knew it was worth the $15 to give it a shot. I purchased the book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr, read it in three days, and officially extinguished my last cigarette at 2:00 PM on April 5, 2008. No withdrawal symptoms, not feelings of anxiety or stress and honestly no pangs of regret or need for the substance. I am now free and feel fantastic! In an effort to pay it forward, I genuinely thank Jason for the thoughtful recommendation and pass on the love to all of you who might be struggling with this. Buy and read this book today.

Other awesome things that happened of late include:

~ Dog sitting for the easiest, sweetest, most kickin’ dog on the freaking planet.

~ Cas Haley released a new album. If you like reggae or are just looking for some stellar summer music I highly suggest checking him out. Great vibe all around. Living near Dallas is a plus; you can see him live (lucky).

~ Acquiring two faux jobs. One of which is not through anyone I already know (she found my website randomly woo hoo!) and will be installing one of my favorite finishes, the other through my Evil Step-Mom’s very close friend who is an Interior Designer.

~ Being able to spend time with friends that I rarely got to see while living far away.

~ Catching the first sights of spring in New England as flowers begin to bloom.

March 31, 2008

"I Will Rest When I'm Dead"

Melissa Ferrick sang these words on her album Listen Hard released in 2002 and it hit me as soon as I heard them that it is truly my life motto. The past couple weeks were such a whirlwind I feel like a rock star; minus the heavy drinking, late nights and musical talent parts. Perhaps it can be attributed to inhaling so many paint fumes or the extra special workout my body got after lugging boxes up and down stairs but it is amazing to me that March is already over.

We signed the lease for the apartment, decided to move in on the 29th since it was a weekend, and immediately I was purchasing materials and packing up the tool caddy for my painting job in Maryland the following week. The morning I was leaving Matt and I decided to check on a whim how much flights would cost out of BWI if he were to drive down with me and then fly back the same day. It was so reasonable he was yelling book it and I was printing a boarding pass before either of us actually realized what was going on. We caravaned to Hartford, he parked at short term and I picked him up only going a few miles off the original route; all so I could have some company for the ride. We made it to the other airport in about seven hours and he was flying back home as I was flying down the highway to the house. Since I would be staying there during the duration of the job they left all sorts of convenient items such as a bed, towels and a coffee maker but the rest of the house was eerily empty as if the surfaces were screaming "after 35 years of tobacco smoke, please paint me now".

I got started that night with spackle in the hallway upstairs on the water damaged ceiling and it was all uphill from there applying spackle, primer and paint to pretty much every surface that was not a floor. I was feeling high in about two days. It was lucky that I had help (in a big way) through a friend of family in the area because I would have been there painting until June otherwise. He was an amazing benefit to the speed in completing the job and even though I was the one to prime and paint about 800 linear feet of trim, he was the one to prime and paint almost every ceiling and many walls in the house. We had a blast and a lot of laughs. Eleven fourteen hour days later I was once again packing up the car to head home feeling like I was suffering from withdrawals without being able to spend even a second writing the whole time I was there. The return leg of driving was all me so Oreo kept me company on shuffle until Jersey when I decided it was time to stay awake by singing so Mraz was all over the speakers until I could get coffee in Connecticut. Here are a few key before and after shots for everyone to enjoy!

First Floor Bath

Shadowbox & wall paper removal

First Floor BR

Hallway ceiling

Matt picked up our keys on Friday so I met him at our new apartment after the drive back and we hugged for about ten minutes. It was nice to rest my cheek on his and I absorbed that moment as deep as I could to gather the strength for the final push of my two weeks of insanity. We stayed over my Mom's Friday night and on Saturday drove the couple hours out to the house in Western MA to pick up the last of the furniture there. After dropping that back at my Mom's we hit our storage unit on the south shore to pick up the items we have not seen in the six months we have been living at the furnished beach cottage. Sunday was the big move in day and we had help from Auntie, Uncle, S & B which was more than we had ever hoped or expected and not only did they all help carry boxes and random furniture they brought food and a camera to commemorate the day. Everyone peeled off here and there and Matt and I fell onto our mattress at about 11:00 last night after getting about half our new place set up.

I think I must have temporarily died last night because I slept through the night for the first time in a month and this morning actually feel as if I rested. My real life will resume tomorrow but for now I plan to do nothing but look at those boxes and hope they unpack themselves while I surf the web all day.

March 16, 2008

All My Brushes are Packed

When I am faced with a very long journey that I have to take on my own I try to remember two of my favorite gals on TV that always made being independent look so fun, Laverne & Shirley. I am not exactly moving into my own place and getting a job down at the bottling plant but there is an eight hour drive involved and two weeks where I am the only one in charge of what gets done and what does not. I love to travel so this will be an adventure just like skipping down the street.

Laverne was always funny but Shirley really just seemed to have it all together through her chaos. She was independent and responsible and that was the perfect role model to follow. Of course I was three when the show first aired so perhaps it was all in my head but that is what I really got from their antics each week.

Give us any chance, we’ll take it.
Give us any rule, we’ll break it.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true.
Doin’ it our way.

Nothin’s gonna turn us back now.
Straight ahead and on the track now.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true.
Doin’ it our way.

There is nothing we won’t try,
Never heard the word impossible.
This time there’s no stopping us.
We’re gonna do it.

On your mark, get set, and go now,
Got a dream and we just know now,
We’re gonna make our dream come true.
And we’ll do it our way, yes our way.
Make all our dreams come true,
And do it our way, yes our way,
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you.

I will channel a little bit of that while I complete the interior of my client’s house in Maryland. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Schlemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated. I am skipping off to enjoy two weeks of sixty degrees and lots of paint fumes in the almost south so see ya’ll in a couple weeks.

January 22, 2008

Subtle Joys of Self Employment

I started looking for opportunities in self-employment almost twenty years ago, roughly two days after starting at my first job. I am a free spirit with an over-active imagination, so finding something that didn’t become boring was always my greatest challenge. No MLM or sales position was left unturned. I invested countless hours into envelope stuffing as a teenager producing only one reply, sold beauty products door-to-door and found out that what I really sold was about 200 catalogs to myself. I originated Mortgages, contracted as an Office Manager and was as a Unit Manager for a popular plastics line. Perhaps what I was craving all along was simply freedom.

Most people that run their own business will undoubtedly tell anyone who listens, that freedom is the key reason to be self-employed. They will boast that being your own boss is the greatest feeling and that setting your own hours makes everything worthwhile. In my estimation that is all just a bunch of hooey and I would like to share the reasons why I personally would never go back to corporate America now that I have had the taste of life on the other side.

Pee on the community toilet seat. I once worked in a building which was also home to two clinics: an eye center and a cardiologist. My office was on the same floor as the eye clinic, whose patients were primarily over 75. The fact of nature is that as a person gets older their bodily functions do not cooperate as well as when they were young. Throw blinding eye drops into the mix and ironically the picture becomes clear. One day our Department was told that our office would be moving. I thought for sure it would now be safe to sit since the elderly ladies with eye drops would be no more and the only users of the bathroom would be fellow office mates. Not more than a week after our arrival to the new space is when I realized that a person doesn’t have to be older and blind to pee on the seat but they actually have to be human to clean it up.

Boredom. In the world of ties and pantyhose most people will do anything just to hang onto their job. With rising mortgage rates and falling house prices, not to mention so many layoffs, there is a panic that sets in among worker bees that if they are not constantly busy they too will be downsized. I would like to point out that no matter how hard a person tries to hide it, there is no way to disguise the glassy eyes that could have only occurred from playing three straight hours of spider solitaire after taking a two hour lunch paid for by the company. Add to that sneaking out of the office a half hour early and it is basically the makings of a typical day at my last company. I try to recall even one detail of something I did at that job to garner such a huge salary but all I come up with is a 4.0 GPA in school and a journal where I jotted down quips about how I must have been working what the Sopranos refer to as a “no show” job, even though I was there. There were many days I felt like Peter Gibbons.

Talking for the sake of hearing one’s own voice. Idle chatter about nothing in elevators and inane questions with no logical answer are two great examples of this. One good one I always got was “How are we doing today?” Did I miss something? Was I sharing my desk with someone else? How can one person be a “we”? Was my co-worker referring to me and the inner dialogue that is constantly running in my head? That response would go a little something like “Look I’m having a really busy day today you see my eBay auction is coming down to the wire, I have so much schoolwork to do and I’m just so bogged down with all the smoke breaks I plan to take later so I don’t feel as if I can fit your ridiculous questions into my already jam packed schedule.” Although that one is good, my all time favorite office question was “How was your weekend?” I knew no one would ever want to hear my true response which goes a little something like “It was fantastic because I didn’t have to see you people and I got to spend all the money I made here last week which is pretty much the only reason I am back today.” It was a good thing I always brought a journal to work so I could write down what was in my head otherwise I would have taken up roof archery years ago.