Thursday, September 19, 2013

10 Minute Project, OR, Longest Post for Shortest Project Ever

So, I'm still in  love with the house!

And my diabolical plan in posting crappy, blurry pictures has paid off because my friend Dorie, a professional photographer, saw how bad they were and offered to come over for a cup of tea sometime soon so we can chat and she can take MUCH better photos for you.

But I can't invite her over yet, because that would be a reward for me. And I don't believe in rewarding bad behavior. Just go back in time and ask 4 yr old Jack if he ever got that Dora the Explorer movie he had a fit about in CVS? Ok. I know, Dora, embarrassing....

I am working from home right now, trying my hand at writing full time. In theory, breaking up with my day job in the church bookstore, though a bit sad, should provide me with ample time to write. And it does, but this time starts far too early, as we are now on the hellish Middle School sleep deprivation schedule, and ends far too soon, as in "How can school be over by 2:45? I was just getting my groove!"

And I'm in my cool new house. You know, the one that's almost exactly like the old one so there's ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that MUST be done to it? The furniture fits, the dog knows her way around, and everything was set up in a matter of days because it was all so familiar. Except there's a lot of yellow and green. And I'm a little more of a tan and gray person. Or blue. And look at those brass switch plates!  What an easy fix that would be to just swap those out on a quick trip to Home Depot....

Working from home has been wonderful, but I'm oh so easily distracted. If you have surmised that my blog productivity has plummeted in the 2 weeks in which this work at home experiment has been  in place, you would be correct oh keen observer.

So, I'm trying to bribe myself and up my productivity with little rewards related to the house. Not big,  "Let me paint the yellow master bedroom my beloved Palladian Blue" rewards or "Let me buy a new beer fridge to replace the one Margaret and her friend destroyed by accidentally puncturing the Freon with an ice pick."

No, changes of that caliber are not sanctioned until I get more writing done.

But I've been trying to build in a 20 minute reward during lunch each day. No, it's not called Facebook, although that's another distraction (addiction) I must contend with. These small rewards have something to do with the house, like sifting through artwork to decide what to hang on the walls, or organizing a shelf in the garage.

Today I took gorgeous wrapping paper and lined the back of my antique secretary. It adds a small touch of gray amidst the yellow and green, enough to tide me over until the whole house coordinates with this gray beauty:

Thank you, Kristi of Barn Owl Primitives for this incredible painting you made! Did you notice how Kristi painted "Jack" behind his favorite Bible verse? LOVE IT.

The  secretary, however, has seen better days. When my brother, sister, and I were dividing up our family furniture more than 15 years ago, it was not my first, second, or even third favorite piece from the dining room. It was the booby prize, even though it is pretty cool looking and is from the 1830's.

First of all, it has a bum leg. It has had a bum leg since my grandparents bought it in the late 60's or early 70's. This was something that was drilled into us as we were growing up that kind of took the fun out of it. Whenever we'd get close to it: "Don't lean against that thing! The leg is just propped there." I think the three of us had kind of a Pavlovian response to avoid it after all of those years.

No one ever seemed to consider getting the leg fixed. Tim and I just anchored the secretary securely  to the wall and pretty much stayed away from it..

And we've had to baby it a bit each time we moved from house to house. Not that it seemed to appreciate it one bit, delicate and persnickety as it is.  For instance, when I was sizing it up today before my quick project, a tiny piece of mahogany veneer fell off while I was looking at it.  Not touching, looking. It just kind of leapt right off and landed on the floor at my feet. This does not happen with my other furniture.

Also, those little windows make it hard to display anything inside. Currently, there's this oh-so-cute photo of my young parents on their wedding day:

There's an old family Bible from the 1830's with brittle pages bearing the birth and death dates of our relatives from Ireland. There are a few books by Dickens and Austen, a nod to the furniture's British roots, and some pretty birdies people have given me.

There's also a yellowed newspaper clipping from the 1970's from my Grandpa Harris. The clipping talks about an antique mahogany secretary that was valued at $6,000. Grandpa's note to my mother in the margin says: "Check this. We paid $200. It came from England. It was in Dr. Carter Bishop's home."

I'm pretty sure my mother never had the time, pre-Internet and mid-childrearing to check on the value of our three legged secretary, but she did tuck the note away a little hidden drawer for safekeeping.

You may be wondering if I think antiques such are too dear to be tampered with. Nah! In fact, there is still sticky residue on the shelves and the back from when my mom covered them with harvest gold contact paper circa 1977.

So much so that when I cut the gray wrapping paper to size, I barely had to use any tape (yep, scotch tape) to hold it up. The 40 year old stickiness pretty much did the trick.

So, there you have it. A long-winded post about a short little project.

Measure. Cut. Stick. Admire. Go back to writing.

And if any of you find there's a seller's market for sticky 3-legged 1830's mahogany secretaries let me know. I have a few house-related projects to fund.


Karen L. said...

Love this post! So nice the way you wove sweet Jack into it, too, along with the old, family "heirloom". I like your thinking with adding the nice background in your color scheme. Hope you're feeling better----from one who had shingles three years ago to another. Thanks for keeping us posted on your "stuff". :)

Unknown said...

That's a gorgeous secretary Anna - and love the photo of your parents!!!
Would have never thought of putting gift wrapping paper on the back - great idea!
Now get back to writing!

Melissa @ Unexpected Delays said...

I love Barn Owl Primitives!! I love the painting she made for you!! She is amazing.

Unknown said...

you sound like me :)
except with me, nothing really gets done yet I'm so exhausted!

Miss Stewart and Students said...

Brad was just asking me today, "How is Jack's mom," as if you're someone I work with. I told him you'd moved. Not so sure I'll update him on the wrapping paper. ;)

Looks good though.

From your reader with the bum leg,
Ellen (aka Miss Stewart)

Anonymous said...

Great project, and I DID notice the "Jack" in the background of that gorgeous art. Hope the shingles are gone or will go away soon.

Pam Priester said...

Anna! That wallpaper is genius!!! Absolutely gorgeous and look how everything that's on the shelves just "pops". I'm impressed. Love this post!!! Love the thought of you nestled into your new home.

deb said...

While reading your post I realized that your blog title "An Inch of Gray" has taken on new meaning. Today you put "An Inch of Gray" into your new life with your secretary. Day by day, you will add "An Inch of Gray" to this life, this life that you didn't choose, that you would never choose, but you will make it, you will most definitely make it, "An Inch of Gray" at a time!
Good Luck!
P.S. Paint your bedroom the color you love. Your day should start out being enveloped by something familiar.

Mimi said...

I love that Jack sign! I didn't notice his name until you mentioned it. So neat. I lined Lexi's drawers with really pretty wrapping paper too. Except I had to re cut paper SO many times. It was a substantially harder project than it should have been and it looks like a hot mess up close. You on the other hand did a fantastic job. I love the paper you chose too.

Alison said...

It's so pretty! Sort of matches your blog's background :)

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

I don't know if I could ever work from home...I would be much too distracted. I love your idea of "rewarding yourself". Sometimes all you need is a little craft project to get you back on track :)

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for updating us with a great post...I have been checking the blog daily. Love your antique secretary & those very special meaningful 'touches'...but most of all, I LOVE, LOVE Jack's Bible verse!!! So awesome how Jack is very much a part of your new home and I know how comforting that must be for you. Ongoing Prayers for you & your dear family.

Thrift Store Mama said...

Love it - looks great and I'm totally going to steal you idea.

Kathy at kissing the frog said...

I didn't even notice Jack's name at first. It is gorgeous - what a gift! And I know all about that "time flies when you're supposed to be writing" thing. All of mine are in school all day, too, except my distraction is a two-year-old who constantly wants to sit on my lap and hug and kiss me. Eh, could be worse, right?

Bob Braxton said...

asking price? do you deliver? we moved a donated heavy wood desk up the stairs and into what at the time was our only offspring's bedroom (and study). I did not figure out removing the 2-inch thick top but instead sawed off two of the legs to get the desk (turned on its side or end) through the 30" doorway (even with the bedroom door removed) the put the sawed-off piece beneath the main part of the desk leg(s) - but in this case the furniture was heavy enough not to require being careful around it.

Anonymous said...

I'm about to inherit a dining room set from the 80s. Wouldn't have been my 1st choice, but can't argue with free! :) Wish you could fix it up for me! Your house looks wonderful. Happy writing!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

The cabinet looks great, way to go!
I am just in awe of the plaque with Jack's name in the background. It is beautiful!!!

Anonymous said...

Productivity rewards! You took my suggestion! (Or someone else's who made the same suggestion.) I feel so honored! Even if it had nothing to do with my suggestion.

On a different note, regarding the following post (the most recent one), I wonder if you would consider saying something in some future post about those strange signs and forebodings you had. I believe they were indeed forebodings but I don't think we, in modern times, know how to notice them any more (NOT that it ever necessarily made difference to the outcome) but it's useful to at least see them, I think. Anyway, forgive me if this is an irritating request.

E. in VT.

Andrea Mowery said...

That is a great piece of furniture! I love the antiques in our home and the stories that go along with every nick, gouge, and bum leg. Good idea on the wrapping paper! I can't believe the 40-year sticky stuff is still working. They just don't make anything good like that anymore.

Jenn said...

What a fun little project! Turned out so pretty. Love the sign with Jack's name, too.

My favorite line in the whole post was when the tiny piece of veneer "leapt" off it. Had to laugh. It's gorgeous though. :)

Unknown said...

It's so pretty! I love what you can do with a space (or persnickety furniture).

Unknown said...

I put that same wrapping paper but in blue in the back of a cabinet!! i got it from homegoods. yours looks great

Unknown said...

i used that same wrapping paper on the back of one of my cabinets! i got it from homegoods. mine was blue, but your gray looks great

... said...

I can't believe my first post to your blog after reading for years is "just take the doors off - what you have inside is so pretty!"