Monday, January 28, 2013

Dreaming of Living Beautifully

Years ago when I was the director of marketing for a regional design center, I met Alexandra Stoddard when she came to the center to speak at one of our events.  She's an interior designer and author who has written tons of best-selling books with titles such as Living a Beautiful Life, Living Beautifully Together, and 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life.

Alexandra Stoddard's Weekend Retreat (Country Living)
Alexandra is also a philosopher who says things like "Live by the trinity of what is true, great and beautiful." 
Uh huh.
But my assistant and I had dinner with her and her husband after the event, and she truly was a lovely, gracious woman who said she really did live the way in which her books advised. I believed her.  I was inspired.

Fast forward to today. Now I look around my house sometimes and wonder, "What would Alexandra think?"

I try, Alexandra, I really do.

I really want to live beautifully.

With a sparkling clean kitchen.

Pretty bedrooms.

Source: New England Home

Curtains that billow in the breeze.

Flowers everywhere.


Perfectly organized closets.


Everything clean and pretty.
But ... I'm a piler. 
There.  I admitted it.  I pile things thinking I will put them where they belong later.  I'm also a procrastinator. So later can be a day, a week, or even months down the road.  Which is why my office looks like it does. And my basement workspace never got reorganized after we moved some furniture down there to have the floors refinished. 

And I live with droppers. 
Droppers are people who just drop things where they happen to be and don't put them where they belong.  (I'm forever complaining about the droppers, but even though my piles are basically neat and somewhat organized, I secretly know I'm just as bad!)

And I have shedders.  Lots of shedders. Shedders like to roll around on the floors, the rugs, the furniture--any place where they can leave behind their fur.  They also like to leave nose prints on windows, paw prints on floors, scratch furniture, and slobber water out of their bowls.

I am forever cleaning up after the shedders, nagging the droppers, and procrastinating about the piles. 

It wears a girl out.  Who has the energy to live beautifully?

But I have dreams and goals!  I do!

I'm going to get the basement workshop organized again so I can paint furniture down there instead of the dining room. I'll move my dining room table and chairs back to their original spots, and  I'll keep flowers on the table.

Source: Flower Garden Girl

And I'm going to sort through all the paper in my office so it's a space conducive to creativity.  And I'll keep flowers in there too!

I am Alexandra!  I am!  You'd be proud of me.

I will live beautifully.

Source: Dreamy Whites



(All photos picked up from Pinterest, original sources noted where I have the info.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Valentine's Crafts

How are you doing today?  Are you keeping warm?  It has been frigging freezing all week here in Northern VA.!  I'm a weather wimp.  I hate the cold.  I'll do what I have to do--but I'll whine about it!

Between the weather and my lingering cold, all I wanted to do this week was hibernate.  So I didn't really get anything major done.  I did come to a conclusion on where to move Mr. P's.  I'm going to check this weekend to make sure the space I want is still available before I give my notice.

About the only other thing I accomplished was making some Valentine's do-hickeys.

I made some hangers.

And some handmade Valentines.



I got this  great Valentine's Fairy graphic from the Graphics Fairy and put it in a little frame.

And I made some instant Valentine's Day decor with these handmade hearts in milkglass bud vases.  I also painted a little heart box.

I took some of them out to Mr. P's today, where I set up a little Valentine's Day display.

Valentine's gifts for her on the right.

And for him on the left.

Personally I think vintage is an appropriate gift for any holiday!

I also have these book wreaths.

Love the sparkly heart in the middle!

And these little primitive hearts.

Plus a couple of appropriate lavender sachets.

Now I'm in the Valentine's Day mood, I've decided I need to do a Valentine's mantel in my home.  Stay tuned for that endeavor!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend--and stay warm!

Sharing at:

French Country Cottage: Feathered Nest Friday
My Romantic Home: Show & Tell Friday
Elizabeth & Co.: Be Inspired

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Decisions, Decisions, Part 2

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I've been trying to decide whether I follow my heart and focus on my shop (Mr. P's Emporium) full-time or whether I go back to work full-time.  As I talked about in this post, having a vintage shop has always been a dream of mine, but I'm trying to also be practical. 
Many thanks to those of you who have offered advice and encouragement.  Right now I've decided to give it another six months, while also seeing if I can pick-up some freelance work. (If you know anyone who needs some marketing done, send them my way!)  I'm going to be in the Lucketts Spring Market in May, so I will be spending a lot of time in the next few months finding and painting furniture anyway.
One thing I have definitely decided is that my current location just isn't right for me.  Although business has picked up since I moved to the more visible spot, (I just sold a dresser that was up front) in the long run the mall just does not attract my target customer.  I also don't like the way my space looks crammed in with no definition from my neighbors (other than the backs of one of my neighbor's display units!). 

And the fact that I stock a lot of "smalls" because that's what sells in this this mall, makes the space look cluttered since I have no room for a big display piece. They have to be on the furniture,  and I can't highlight pieces the way I'd like to.
So, I've decided to move. But here's where my current problem:  I've found two, totally different, great spaces to choose from--and I'm having a hard time deciding which would be best for me.
The first is a beautiful new location that has opened near Lucketts, next to a shop that is already a destination for painted furniture.  A former vendor from my current location has moved in already and loves it.  The space would be a bit more than twice the size of my current space, and about $200 more a month.  That's a big leap of faith.  And although the store is definitely targeted to my customer, there is a lot more for the shopper to choose from between the new store and its neighbor.  My pieces would really have to stand out.  Plus the store is brand new and has no track record.  But it is gorgeous, the woman running it is extremely talented, and it's in a great location, so I'm sure it will be successful.
The second is much closer to my home (Lucketts is about an hour away), and draws from a good demographic area.  It is a combination antique mall and home store with new furniture (two sides of the same building).  They also offer upholstery services.  There are a couple of painted furniture vendors in the mall, and the owner keeps them up front because they attract in customers.  (There is nothing like a Lucketts anywhere in the area, which is why people travel the distance to go out there.)  There are two spaces I am looking at.  One is right in the window and is bigger than my current space and $60 cheaper.  The other is up front,  and is about the square footage of the space in the other building I'm looking at, but the rent is the same amount as I'm paying for my current space (for more than twice the size).  The lease is just month-to-month, so if it doesn't work I'm not stuck in the space for a long time. 
So, you see my dilemma?  I'm weighing the pros and cons of each -- and any of you who would like to weigh in with advice I'd love to hear it!  I need to make up my mind in the next week or so.

Decisions, decisions ... again!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Miss Mustard Seed Book Giveaway Winner

Happy Monday!
I hope your weekend was more relaxing than mine.  On Saturday I took all three dogs to the vet.  Now my dogs are fairly well trained and usually very well behaved, but this is never a calm activity. My lab-mix is vet-phobic and the golden feeds off of his energy.  But in the long run it's easier than doing three separate trips. 

This time was an especially stress-filled adventure:  As I was in the waiting room dealing with one quivering medium and one nervous large-sized dog trying to climb into my lap (at the same time!), I lost hold of the little dog's leash and he proceeded to go right into the middle of the lobby and poop.  Uh, embarrassing!!! The dog owners gave me sympathetic smiles.  The cat owners looked aghast. 

Then Saturday night my husband was up all night with the flu.  Which meant I was up all night. 

Sunday I attacked the house with cleansers and Lysol while he slept.
Good times.  Good times.
But you don't care about that--you care about who won Miss Mustard Seed's book! 
The winner of the random drawing from the entries is Linda from Coastal Charm!
Congratulations to Linda, and thank-you to all of you who took the time to read my post and enter the contest!

Hoping we all have stress-free weeks!


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Friday, January 18, 2013

Little Farmhouse Shabby Bookshelf

I found this little bookshelf at a thrift shop for $10.  It looks like it was made out of found wood, maybe from an old kitchen cabinet. 

It was backless, and a bit roughly made.  I thought the roughly made aspect added to its charm.  The fact that it had no back ... not so much.

I had a piece of quarter-inch plywood cut to fit the back and gave it a base coat of ASCP in Old White.  Then, because the shelf reminded me of something you'd find in an old farmhouse pantry, I stenciled on a feed sack stripe in ASCP Graphite and Ochre.


The shelf was nice and sturdy, so I didn't do a thing to its rough-hewn construction.  I just painted it in Old White and gave it a heavy distressing to enhance its farmhouse patina.

And there you have it. 

From this ...

To this!

Today is the last day to enter the Miss Mustard Seed Inspired You book giveway! 

So if you haven't entered yet don't miss your chance to win this terrific book.  Details here.

Sharing at:

Miss Mustard Seed:  Furniture Feature Friday
Coastal Charm: Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
French Country Cottage: Feathered Nest Friday
Redoux: Link Party
Elizabeth & Co.: Be Inspired
My Romantic Home: Show & Tell Friday
My Repurposed Life: Catch as Catch Can
The Shabby Nest: Frugal Friday
It's Overflowing with Creativity
Fox Hollow Cottage: Power of Pinterest Party

Monday, January 14, 2013

Down with the Flu

Unfortunately I can personally attest to the veracity of the headlines saying the flu season has come early! 
Over the weekend my cold morphed into a full blown case of the flu. But I just wanted to write a quick note today to thank those of you who wrote comments or sent me emails about last Monday's post.  I still haven't quite decided what I'm doing yet, but I really appreciate the encouragement to continue to follow my heart.
As soon as I feel better, I'll deliver the pieces I finished last week to Mr. P's, and take some photos of the new space to show you.  In the meantime, don't forget to enter my giveaway for Miss Mustard Seed's book!  You have until Friday to enter.
And now ... back to bed!
P.S.  For the germ-phobic among you: Don't worry about catching the flu from the book -- I haven't even opened it! :-) (Is that even possible flu-wise?)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Little Table Redo & Miss Mustard Seed Book Giveaway!

It's time for the Friday song and a happy dance! I hope your week went well.  I've been busy painting and fighting a cold, and I think I'd better take the weekend off before the cold wins the battle.
One of the projects I've been working on is this little table.  I forgot to get a true before photo, but here it is with a coat of Citrastrip on the top.

One of the things l love about this table is the detailing on the sides.  But with the ugly pecan brown finish, it just looked dated and fussy.

My initial plan was to refinish the top.  The Citrastrip didn't take the finish off so I started sanding.  But as I sanded I discovered I really liked the color variations that were showing up in the wood.

So I stopped.  I put some Howard Restore-a-Finish on it, and decided it was perfect just like that.  Now I know this isn't everyone's taste.  But I love the shabby, time-worn elegance of it.
I painted the base in Annie Sloan chalk paint in Old White. 

After two coats, a light waxing and distressing, this is how it turned out.

The perfect table to set a book.

Or your cup of tea.

And it's no coincidence I photographed it next to my chair from Miss Mustard Seed!

Now, I am a big admirer of Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed.  I think she has amazing talent, and she always graciously acts like she remembers me when I see her at Lucketts. :-)  So of course when I heard she was writing a book, I bought it as soon as it was available!

Then a friend bought me one for Christmas.
Miss Mustard Seed is great -- but I think one book is sufficient! 
So I'm giving away the new, extra book. (My friend said it was okay with her!) And trust me, you'll love it.  I saw today that it was number three on the Top 100 Best Sellers list on Homestyle Books!

All you have to do to enter to win is be a follower of this blog, and leave a comment.  For a second chance to win, like Mr. P's Emporium's Facebook page and leave me a comment letting me know.  Enter by January 18th, and I'll announce the winner on the 21st.
Good luck and have a great weekend!

Sharing at:

Miss Mustard Seed: Furniture Feature Friday
French Country Cottage: Feathered Nest Friday
Elizabeth & Co: Be Inspired
My Romantic Home: Show & Tell Friday
Redoux: Link Party
My Repurposed Life: Catch as Catch Can
Funky Junk Interiors: Saturday Nite Special


Monday, January 7, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

Happy Monday! 
I spent some time last week moving into my bigger space for Mr. P's Emporium. 
I'm not quite done "futzing," so I didn't take any photos of the entire space yet.  I will show you one of the things I've started on though:

A "Winter White Sale" where everything white in the space is on sale.  I'm still working on a couple of white pieces of furniture to bring into the booth, which I hope to show you soon. 
I alluded to changes this year in my New Year's post, and some relate to Mr. P's. 

As some of you may know, I'm a marketing consultant.  I've been in marketing for over 25 years, and have focused on strategic marketing communications contract work for the last couple of years. 

I love the creativity of  marketing communications. And overall I've enjoyed my clients and the variety of my contract work. However, it can be stressful, and my last two contracts totally burned me out. I felt like I really needed a break. So in the fall I decided to take the rest of the year off and focus exclusively on Mr. P's Emporium. That's when I leased my current space. Prior to that I had just sold on Craigslist, been in the Lucketts Spring Market, and had my Etsy store.
Now that it is the beginning of the new year, it is decision time. Do I go back to my "real" work, or do I put my all my focus and energy into Mr. P's Emporium?

I absolutely love everything about running a vintage business.

Well, almost everything. 

Let's say I love everything except the money! Right now Mr. P's isn't making any. And even if it was more successful, this definitely isn't the way to riches!
I am extremely lucky in that I have an incredibly supportive husband. But there are practical considerations. On the other hand, this is something I've always wanted to do!

My thinking is, if I decide to try to make Mr. P's a go I should jump into it with both feet. If I do that I need to source, paint, and turnover more furniture. And that's difficult if I am working at another job.

There is also the issue of my current location. While it was the perfect place to start out in and test the waters, I'm not sure it's the best fit for my style of refreshed and upcycled vintage furniture. It's more of a traditional antique mall, and the merchandise the other vendors carry is primarily glassware and collectibles. I don't think it's the type of place the shopper would come looking for the kind of thing I sell.

I opened in October, had a good month in November, and a slow December, which is the first month I didn't make my rent.  The furniture is where I make money. And while I've sold some furniture in the three months I've been open, the majority of my sales come from "smalls." And the smalls cover up the furniture. You see the quandry. That's why I moved into the bigger space in a better location, and I'm going to give it a month to see if sales pick up.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about other locations--and about the bigger picture.

Do I make a practical decision and go back to work? Or do I follow my heart?

Decisions, decisions!