31 August 2014


I finished giving the wing chairs the slip!

Everybody knows that paint and slipcovers are the easiest way to change and refresh what you already have.  This is not unlike getting yourself a new outfit,  painting your face and trying a new hairdo, but I digress.

I have had these monster wing chairs for over twenty years now, and when I first bought them they were teal.  They were supposed to be Hunter Green, which was very popular at the time, but when they finally arrived three months after I ordered them they were disappointingly teal, a color I have never liked.

Here they are in all their brand-spanking new glory (hideous fabric, right?):

I climbed a ladder to find this album --
don't tell Sweet Husband.

Aside:   I adore aqua and turquoise, which are really just lighter shades of blue-green, but I just plain don't like teal.

This is when they were first done in the previous house.
Photo by E. Lockridge from The Birmingham News.

I used to drape things all over them, trying to camouflage that color (and the fabric was just plain ugly) with throws, spreads, quilts, lots of pillows -- whatever.  The fabric had a "hard" unpleasant hand, too.  What was I thinking?

I think this must be the updated version of the fusible quilt batting?

...one day on TV well over ten years ago, I saw a method demonstrated for an alternative fix that was a cross between reupholstery and slipcovers.   Reupholstery would have been very expensive, and although I have made some tailored slips with mixed success, for these particular chairs the process was daunting.  So I thought why not?

I found the product at Hancock fabrics, and while there I ran across a bolt of toile on clearance for $5 a yard, and so I bought the whole bolt.  There is a lot of waste with a pattern like toile because of having to match the design, called a repeat.  On most toile, the repeat is large, maybe even 36 inches.

fitting the new slips with quilt tacks

The way the process worked required special batting which was coated with a heat-activated adhesive.  First, you cut all the pieces to fit the chair and applied them with a quilt tacking gun.  These chairs were BIG so it took quite a lot of batting, the better part of three rolls if I remember correctly.  Then, you cut the sections of the fabric, and positioned those over the attached batting with the quilt tacks. 

Last, you fired up your iron, and I actually don't remember if you used steam or not.  I think maybe you didn't.  At any rate, you ironed your chair all over, slowly and deliberately for what seemed like hours, which required turning that monster thing over and over in all directions.  It took me a week to do each chair.  Then the seams had to be turned in and set with fabric glue and pins, and that had to dry for a couple of days.  

I was so tired of the whole project, although the chairs turned out fine, that I never even put on the trim over the seams as I had intended.  We put the (previous) house on the market again for the 5th or 6th time, and I had no time to worry about trim any more.  

The chairs have been extremely comfy and well-used over the years, and the toile fabric is nice and soft from use.  However, the arms are starting to look very worn out.  The soft batting and a more tactile fabric made all the difference in comfort.

Toile comes in and out of fashion, although for those who love it, it never goes away.  Popular with devotees of Country French style, it mixes well with checks of various sizes and coordinating prints. 

 The same Indigo denim on the bottom of the curtain was going to go on these chairs
All things however swell they are get old-hat, though, don't they?  Last year when we worked on the den upstairs, I had planned to do them over in this indigo denim.  The more I tried to work with the denim on these ultra-curvy chairs, the more exasperated I became. It just wouldn't drape.

Then recently we moved those chairs back to the bedroom.  I knew I had to do something, but I still was unwilling to fork over the cash to get a pro in here to do it.  You can buy new chairs for what that costs, and besides I wanted these that are "broken in" to be in here for comfort.

I think the slip for the ottoman is going to be small green checks
Already I had decided that I was going to add more color in the Master Bedroom than I ever had heretofore.  This room is adjacent to my Boho bath, and the wild array of colors in there make me so happy.  I made the yellow plissé check curtains last year, and decided that I could go for an injection of some fuchsia and apple green, with perhaps a little jolt or two of other colors.  Then I found this fabric.

The wheels began to turn, and I thought it might be kind of interesting to do a looser, less formal type of cover on what is essentially a classically formal style of chair. 

Here is how it worked out.  I am quite happy with it, although you more persnickety types probably wouldn't have it.  I bought enough  of this contemporary floral to do the fronts and over the arms, and I already had the solid apple green chintz on the back left over from a show house a long time ago.

When everything is done, I am going to remove the white slip on the bench for a while.
It's fabric goes with these other colors.

I have three more pieces -- two chairs and an ottoman -- in this room to slipcover and three pieces to paint before I show you the whole room.  Plus, I will probably re-work some other lamps and make some new pillow covers and a waterfall spread... (It never ends)  I will probably change the drape on the corona, too.  Maybe I will be done with all this before Christmas.

oops!  just noticed the cord

So, how do you like it?  Too funky for you?

Linking to:

That DIY Party
Mod Mix Monday
Metamorphosis Monday
Tweak It Tuesday
Wow Us Wednesday
MMS Furniture Feature Friday

24 August 2014


This was the week that was.  For retirees we do seem to stay quite busy.  Not frantically busy like a lot of you younger bloggers who are dealing with careers, children, schedules, etc., but we are busy enough.

The new mattress
As you all know by now, I got a new knee about two and a half months ago.  I have not been sleeping well most of the time since, and I thought I knew why.  It was not the knee keeping me awake at this point, but our mattress, although at first I was freaked out about that persistent backache since I had had spinal anesthesia. 

One morning when I was changing the bed, I took a good look at our mattress and started doing some mental arithmetic.  We bought it from Greenbriar Furniture (here in Bham) when we first moved here.  Ye gods and little fishes!  That was almost 19 years ago when we moved here from Jacksonville, AL, where first landed for a couple of years when we left Texas!  How did this happen?  

The lifespan of a mattress is about 8 to 10 years, unless it is a guest bed that is not slept on all the time. I had noticed a couple of dents that seemed to be permanent a couple of years ago, and I casually said, "Maybe it is time to go mattress shopping."  I had read where a 15-year old mattress is so full of dust mites and sweat and human dead skin cells that it can actually weigh 20 pounds more than it did when you bought it!  Ugh!

My not-so-subtle suggestions fell upon deaf ears, however, because Sweet Husband's father The Colonel, who knows everything (and please salute when you read this), said his mattress is about 30 years old and it is perfectly fine with an egg crate foam pad.  Well, that accounts for why I cannot sleep when we visit -- we get his room -- and let me tell you that mattress feels like a slab of concrete.  

I told Sweet Husband, "My father may not have commanded thousands of men (although he was bossy enough that he could have), but he did know you need a new mattress every 8 to 10 years!  We never slept on old wornout mattresses!"  (Notice how family history always gets into these decisions.)

Notice how much taller the surface is now than the nightstands!
Time rocked along, and the dents got a little deeper, so with resignation I went to Belk (sigh) and bought a memory foam mattress pad.  It smelled to high heavens, and I was sure we were going to be found as rotting corpses (having croaked from those noxious fumes) in our old bed by neighbors who noticed that they had not seen us in six months and maybe there might be a funny smell emanating from our house.

This photo from last year shows the height of the old mattress next to the nightstand --
and it was fairly high, too.
You can also see the dips.
You can see how far down the white quilt drops.
Trying to counteract the odor, I laid several sheets and blankets not in use over the foam as well as some dryer sheets.  Then I put on the mattress cover and made the bed.  It helped a little, along with regular saturations of Lysol spray.  Eventually the smell disappeared, or maybe we just got used to it.  

Here you can really see the dips and the level of the nightstands.
That hump in the middle?
I call it the DMZ!
It is a leftover piece of upholstery foam I kept there for about the first six weeks after the knee replacement so that Sweet Husband did not accidentally bump my knee!

At any rate, the bed did sleep more comfortably for a while.  Then the surgery happened.  At that point, the dips and sags had reappeared with a vengeance, but I told Sweet Husband, "I just can't deal with this right now."  

Recently, when I started getting up at daylight and walking by myself, trying to loosen up my aching back, he decided that maybe we indeed ought to go look at mattresses.  Last Monday, we set out to visit a few places here in our neighborhood area which sell them. I never realized there were so many!  Holy Moley -- it is like Mexican restaurants -- there is at least one in every strip center!!!

First, we visited the new Sleep Number Bed Store.  We got the slick sales pitch, and tried out all the beds, and then came the sticker shock. The top of the line king-size with a foot and head which raise separately on each side is about $10,000!  For a mattress.  Not a car, not a diamond ring -- a freakin' mattress.

We took the brochure, thanked the well-trained boy for his time and told him we would think about it.  Then we stopped a couple more places, including H.H. Gregg.  Don't ever go there.  They don't care whether you buy anything or not.  They don't offer to help, either, and if you ask for it, they don't know anything.

Moving on, we finally wound up at Mattress Warehouse at Lee Branch, which has a sister store right over in the next strip center.  The sales manager was actually an articulate grownup who knew what he was talking about.  We tried several brands including Temperpedic, Sealy, Serta, i-something or other and Simmons.  

We decided on a Simmons Beautyrest  because it was the most comfy and seemed like the best deal for the money.  It was delivered Wednesday, along with a free "Bed in a Bag" as part of a promotion.  I stashed that, except we did try the pillows. 

The first night I went to bed with high expectations.  However, I didn't sleep a wink, because (a)  I was afraid I would fall off (or fall getting off) and (b) we tried those new pillows.  They were too hot, being some kind of microfiber.   We prefer our old ones because they are "juuuust right."

The new bed is super-comfy, and now we are sleeping like babies.  The backache is gone, too, I am happy to report. 

See where that same quilt falls now?
I pulled in a tiny little footstool on my side of the bed which I need to get my 5'1" self up on it, although I sort of just slide off the side to get off.  I feel just like the Princess and the Pea with her twenty mattresses piled on because it is so high!  Fortunately, I haven't felt that pea (let alone a dip or sag) at all!

Linking to

Metamorphosis Monday
Here's a little sneak peak at the slipcovers for the wing chairs.
I fit them wrong side out and use a quilt tacking gun to get the fit.
I am also linking this post to
Tweak it Tuesday
Inspire Me Tuesday
Wow Us Wednesday

17 August 2014


Scribbler, the Unfocused Blogger

Last week, I was Invited by sweet Emily at The French Hutch to pick up the thread of Touring Blogland — a chain letter of sorts that has been going around the blogs.  Fortunately, unlike chain letters, it doesn't predict anything dire if you don't comply!  (a good thing too -- keep reading)  The format involves answering some questions and inviting three more people to pick up the thread, creating a never-ending pyramid of visits, I suppose.

Come right on in!

Here are the official Questions and my long-winded Answers:

1.  What am I working on right now?

I take “work” by spells.  Actually, most of the work I do now is like playing for me, because I am retired.  I have worn many hats over the course of my life, and my interests are infinite and varied.  When you love doing something, it is not really work.  

On the back porch we added last year

I write, design, paint, sew, read, collect, travel, often make or re-make something  -- and I also cook, but not as much as I used to.  (Retired, remember?)  

Slipcover project on the drawing board

I always have many project lists scribbled on a legal pad and ideas in the sketchbook, and most of the time I have several going at once.  When I get bored with one endeavor, I move over to something else and come back to that one later.  
The chargers I recently painted when I felt creative
I am very much enjoying painting on canvas again.  Most people on my father’s side of the family  can innately paint and/or draw, and it is just always something I have enjoyed since I was a child.  A high school girl who lived across the street and was quite the artist, taught me a few techniques when I was probably about seven years old.  I still use of lot of those today.   

Otherwise, I am mostly self-taught, but I did take a drawing class one semester in college where I learned some new things.  I was a free-lance makeup artist for years as well as working for a couple of major cosmetics companies, and whether I am doing makeup on a naked face or making a woman beautiful on a canvas with paints or pencils  — it all seems to be interchangeable.
My version of Marilyn

I call what I have been painting lately The Glamour Girl Series. I have a lot of subjects lined up yet to paint.

I have truly been surprised at how well my efforts have been received because I don’t consider myself a real artist, just a dabbler.  Since people keep asking, I am thinking about making prints available.  Don’t forget -- I will be giving away a small painting soon!

I am a Designing Woman, having been a decorator.  My style has evolved over the years, but with one constant:  a love of French furniture and furnishings.  Today, I would say my style has evolved from French Country to Parisian Salon to French Bohemian.  I seem to get looser about things as I age. I love to mix a lot of bold colors and patterns, and it seems to me to be a lot more fun and satisfying than trying to adhere to a lot of those rules I learned in design school a long time ago.

Why settle for a "geriatric" looking shower stool?

The rooms in my house today are always in a state of flux, but in a more relaxed way than ever before.  I don’t allow myself to feel pressured to finish something by a certain deadline anymore.

I am using this fabric for the wing chairs' slipcovers.

Currently, I am changing a few things in the Master Bedroom.  This project is slipcovers for two big wing chairs and an ottoman that we moved back in there recently.  This is where they first started in this house, then they went to the kitchen, then to the Man Cave, so they have come full circle.

These things are a bear to cover!
It took me a week on each chair the first time.

I spend a lot of time in this room, and I like to keep things fresh.  If you already read my blog, you know that I recently had a total knee replacement, and while I have had a great result and a fairly easy recovery, the procedure is still no picnic by any stretch of the imagination.  

My old DR table is now a work table

That means that I have not been painting furniture lately (one of my favorite things to do), although I do have some pieces in the MBR I want to get painted before I go off the rails again for a while with the other knee. 
My old dresser is now a buffet in the DR

2.  How does my work differ from others in this genre?

I am pretty much an original, I think. I have never been one to copy other people, but I have often been copied.  My decorating style is usually seen more in Europe.  

My blog is not called Scribbler Unfocused by accident.  As far as I know,  I do not have an attention deficit disorder, but I am easily bored and like to explore a subject to exhaustion, at which time I move on!   That is why you are likely to run across just about anything on my blog, not just decorating adventures.  

I have had other blogs in the last six or seven years -- I really forget exactly when I started. The first one was called Everyone is Entitled to My Opinion (which I shut down and then revived for a while before recently deleting it for good), and in the beginning, I spun off Glorious Rooms from that one so I could talk about more things related to the home.  The blog for my book GENEVA is still up, although I haven't posted on it since the book sold out.  You can find the link at the top of the page. 

A redo of some estate sale lamps

I stopped blogging for about six or eight months a few years ago because I did not like the direction blogging was taking. Increasingly, it was no longer the friendly “chat over the back fence with a neighbor” that it was in the beginning.  

Boho back porch

Suddenly every aspect of blogging was getting competitive in the extreme, and everybody wanted to make tons of money.  Suddenly you had to have the skills of a professional photographer with a frighteningly expensive camera or else your blog just wasn’t up to snuff at all.  

You could not sit down with your morning coffee to read a few favorite blogs without being bombarded with posts on  “how to grow your blog” (or substitute the word “brand”)  or get a diatribe about “aperture” and other technicalities of photography which make my head hurt — and then the big blog conferences sprang up.  Some of them are quite expensive, reinforcing that competitive, elitist mindset, further alienating those who could not possibly afford to go.

The first incarnation of the kitchen lounge after the re-do

It also helped if you had buckets of money to spend getting your website professionally set up and maintained.  And let’s don’t forget you needed more buckets of money to SPEND SPEND SPEND on your house, all the time, so that you had something to blog about!  Hence all the obnoxious ads feeding the habit.  I have very strong feelings about what I consider selling your soul to the devil (I could even say whoring out yourself and your blog), and I really had to step back and decide what I wanted to do about all these new developments in a hobby I had liked very much. 
The next version of the lounge
After a long period of not even looking at a blog, (and getting a ton of stuff done!) I found that I really missed those “chats over the back fence” with my nicer blog friends and the exchange of creative ideas with likeminded people, so I created a new blog, determined that I would fish in fresh waters this time around and only interact with the “nicest” people.  A lot (but not all) of those bloggers who seemed so nice years ago when I was a newbie -- I am not so sure some of them are anymore.   

I have given up on reading blogs which have so many ads that you can’t find the content for blooming ads!   I will NEVER put ads on this blog, but I do not fault anyone who needs to make money with her blog.  However, if your ads get too obnoxious, popping up in my face and obscuring your post that I am trying to read, you have lost me as a reader.

Curtains for the den made from Ralph Lauren tablecloths and denim.

I have changed blog platforms several times (Blogger to Typepad to iWeb, tried WordPress briefly, and then back to Blogger), and I have lost my followers each time I changed. I am very grateful for everyone who does keep up with me.

Sweet Husband and Scribbler at their wedding dinner at Bistro Bagatelle

I am generally quite outspoken and direct (ya think?), but I have learned to temper a bit what I say on this blog as well as other social media.  Having stirred up a brouhaha a time or two with a brutally honest observation made me realize I have to filter my expression somewhat while trying to remain honest.  

I read a lot!

3.  Why do I write / create what I do?

I actually started my first blog to find a place to write regularly to keep the “writing muscles toned,” because I have written several books and a number of short stories.  I have always been a writer (something else that seems to run in my father's side of the family), but I am not good at tooting my own horn and was hoping to get “discovered” by a literary agent or editor trolling the blogs for new talent.  I was always reading that blogging was a great way to expose yourelf.  (Mercy!)  What has apparently come easily to a few other lucky bloggers did not happen that way for me.  I did get my book GENEVA (about my mother) published, and we sold out a limited printing.  

My book, with it's cover
designed by Rosie Goins
Last year, I signed a contract with a literary agent who unfortunately turned out to be a fraud with a very messy personal life that she splashed all over social media.  I withdrew because I did not want myself or my books to be associated with that sort of sleaze.  There is another effort now in the works for one of my little novels, so stay tuned.

Alabama beauty
Tallulah Bankhead
future subject to paint

I write from life -- my own and others.  My own life has been like a soap opera at times, but with age comes perspective if not wisdom, as well as the ability to laugh at yourself.  What happens in real life is generally a lot more interesting anyway than any totally fictitious characters’ antics I could dream up.  I admit I shamelessly people-watch and eavesdrop because I find people so interesting.  Of course, when I do write fiction, recognizable people or events will get changed or embellished although they start with at least a grain of truth.   I don’t want to get sued after all!

A formerly very brown chair which is not any more!

4.  How does your writing process actually work?
I get a lot of ideas in a dream state.  A lot of people think that is weird, but that time when you are sort of awake and sort of asleep seems to be productive for me, offering surprising clarity.  Sometimes ideas percolate along for quite a while before they come to fruition.  The process is not unlike gestating a baby for months before giving birth.  Of course, the blog posts are written a bit more on the fly, but the ideas sometimes come the same way.  
Greta Garbo, a possible future subject
For the blog, I mostly write about the everyday things I do -- thus the designation “Slice of Life.”  Also, I can see a photo or hear a phrase or witness some interaction between people -- and it might become the seed for a post -- or a story.  When I am ready to write, everything else has to wait because I am ready to pour it out -- right then.  I have learned the hard way to sleep on what I have written, and then edit, edit, edit. 
Lauren Bacall -- another future subject
While we are on the subject of editing, I would like to announce to the whole world that I really hate the “auto-correct” function that seems to be on everything now!  I am very careful to make sure that I haven’t spelled anything wrong, left out words or used the wrong ones.  Then after I publish the piece, I see something there that “the ghost” has changed, probably just as I hit the “publish” button.  Drives me totally crazy!!!

5.  Introduce 3 other bloggers for the following week?

I can’t!

This is where this little tour of blogland comes to an end  —  with me, that is.  I queried several people, and no one wanted to do this.  Some didn’t even bother to answer me.  A couple told me they had been asked several times already, and they queried a few others before accepting, only to be turned down.  Doing this post does require a lot of work, and it did take quite a lot of time over the last week to provide you with these thoughtful (lengthy) answers.

Everyone is very busy these days — and something that seems like an assignment is just not for everybody, flattering though it is to be given an opportunity to shine a special spotlight on your blog.  Many of us have been blogging for several years, and most anything anyone wants to know about us is already in or on our blog somewhere.

I googled Touring Blogland, trying to figure out who has been on this tour already, and it seems that this thing has been going around for quite a while.  With 3x3x3x3x3x ad finitum, it stands to reason that it has about played out, just like the summer annuals in your flowerbed.  

LeslieAnne at Fairhope Supply 

and Kim at Cozinest 

are also publishing today on this tour.  They have great blogs, and so be sure to go over and check out what they have to say on this subject.

Thank you, as always, for reading my blog, and I hope you will visit me often.  That is why I keep writing it, after all.

My little point and shoot lasted the first few years.
Then I got another.
It suits me fine.

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