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Letter to Graduating Seniors

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I was asked by the editor of the school newsletter where I served for four years to address a letter to the graduating seniors. Most of the students will be graduating with an associate degree and a high school diploma the same semester. All have earned a significant number of college hours toward their chosen degree while enrolled at the Early College High School. Here is what I shared with them in the letter:

Seniors,

Wow, four years seems to have flown by. I cannot believe you are graduating already. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting across a table at your middle school interviewing you to attend this new high school. I thought you were very brave at the time. I know you are brave now. I want you all to know how very proud of you I am. You are some of the most amazing students I have worked with in my 30 years in education. As you prepare to graduate, I hope that each of you leaves high school with a better understanding of mathematics, science, social studies, English, Spanish and all the other academic courses you took while at the Early College High School, but it is more important to me that that you have learned the following skills during your four years at IMPACT:

•    I hope that each of you understands that there are going to be times you will be afraid, but that fear should not keep you from trying new things, and striving toward lofty goals. Everyone is afraid from time to time, but those who are successful in their chosen fields push past the fear and do not let the fear define them.

•    I hope you know by now that you will be judged based on the impression you give others in the four year college or University you attend and in the working world more than you will be judged based on your GPA. Always look people in the eye when speaking or listening, have a firm handshake, dress nice, keep your word, show up early, offer assistance, and say please and thank you.

•    I hope you leave able to advocate for yourself in a positive, respectful manner. It is my desire that you know by now not to settle for less than you deserve, without burning bridges.

•    I hope that you have learned that the skills you are learning in high school and college classes can and will go with you for the rest of your life. Use and apply what you have learned about procrastination, preparation, working with others, asking questions, and organization because those skills will set you apart from the rest.

•    I hope that you have learned the importance of service to others. I will count my years with you as a success if I hear that you have continued to help those in need and are serving your chosen community.

•    Finally, I hope that you have learned that you should never stop learning.

As you all prepare to leave IMPACT, I want each of you to know that you really have created an impact in my life and I would venture to say in the lives of the teachers and college instructors who had the privilege to work with you. Thank you for embarking on this journey with me. I will be watching to see where the journey leads you.

Love and Best Wishes,

Mrs. Smithson

 

These students are going on to great things. They have been accepted into Bryn Mawr College, Auburn University, Antioch College, The University of Texas, Texas A&M, University of Houston, Lamar, Univerity of Texas at Tyler, Texas State University and Louisiana State University just to name a few. Two of them are going into military service. They are going to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, and business professionals along with professions I have never even heard of before. They participate in their churches, civic organizations, and things like break dancing, acting, singing, and playing the accordion. Most, but not all, are the first in their family to graduate from college. Many learned English in school. One student has been awarded a Gates Millineum Scholarship, one a Posse Scholarship, one graduated with the highest GPA at the community college of all students, young and old.

When you think ” the world is going to Hell in a hand basket”, remember that these kids still exist in your community as well as mine. It is up to us to support those students, encourage them, and allow them the opportunity to succeed.

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I hope you have a wonderful week,

Blessings,

Karen

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Getting the Restoration Hardware Bathroom Vanity Look with a Thrift Store Dresser

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Whew, was that the longest title for a blog post you have ever seen? I know it was the longest title I have ever written. I have “Hate my bathroom-itis”. It is without a doubt the most dysfunctional space in our home. I want a rustic, classic space that feels like it has been around for a while longer than the 5 years it has been here. You can see where I am going with the bathroom and plans I have for it here:

pinnspiration

 

Check out my plans here:

https://theweekendcountrygirl.com/2014/03/05/my-bathroom-pinnspiration/

 

I am moving my bedroom and master bedroom to a more muted, weathered, time worn look because I want our bedroom to be a restful space for us. We are going to incorporate board and batten walls, vintage furnishings, and unusual pieces of furniture into the space. I love the look of this bathroom vanity at Restoration hardware but it would have been over $3000.00

That is a little steep for my budget ( more than double what I want to spend on the whole bathroom makeover,) but wow that vanity is beautiful. It is from the Saint James Collection. If you have the money for this vanity, please buy it, then invite me over so I can stare at it. Okay?

I recently purchased a dresser that is the correct size for our space, it is solid wood, has drawers that will work for our space and I like the shape. I was thrilled to find it and am so happy to have it sitting in my garage now waiting for a makeover. I found a pair of mirrors that are going to work with the dresser too at a steal. $20.00 for the pair of mirrors!

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Here are my mirrors:

The detail at the top of the mirror is going to look great.

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Soon I will not have a 29″ high bathroom vanity with four six inch wide drawers. The height of the vanity is a pain for my almost 6 foot tall self and my well over 6 foot tall husband. The drawers are a joke. I brush in a drawer and my toothbrush and toothpaste in the other.  Look at the hardware.  I think it is going to look great in the bathroom.

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I write another blog just about our Suburban home we are trying to make into a unique home called My Burb Home. Here is the low down on my dysfunctional master bathroom.

vanity

 

http://myburbhome.com/2014/02/25/the-master-bathroom-master-plan/

Note to self. Spend a little more time in the master bathroom next time we buy a home.

I have made it my mission to start researching what to do with the dresser in order to make it look more like the Restoration Harware finish above. I have watched videos, read at least 20 blog posts, and have been experimenting. Here is what I have narrowed the process down to:

I am going to either strip the entire thing then stain it using three different stains by Minwax like AKA Design did here although I want a darker base color before the pickling coat and will use the Weathered Oak on top. All in all it will take stripping, sanding, conditioning, staining, pickling, then staining again, then poly to get the look I am going for. No wonder they charge $3000.00 to do this. I may charge myself that much money to get it done, but I really like the look.

aka-design-table-detail

 

http://akadesign.ca/white-wash-pickling-get-the-restoration-hardware-look-for-less/

Or, I could go with paint. I could use my homemade chalk paint recipe to make chalk paint and do something like this:

whitewash

 

http://www.mainecountryhome.com/2013/12/get-restoration-hardware-look-chalk-paint/

Or a paint and whitewashed look like this mirror:

mirror redo

 

http://littlecottageonthepond.blogspot.com/2013/05/mirror-mirror.html

Or a paint mixed with glaze look:

table

http://www.kfddesigns.com/2011/08/graywashing-table.html

 

Of all the options, I am leaning toward the first and the last. I think I am going to try this out on some wood at the house, then on one of the interior drawers before I strip the whole dresser down. I have my suspicion that nothing is going to make me as happy as the mulit-step stain process, because we don’t do easy at our house, but… I can hope that the glazed thinned paint process will make me happy. Right?

Here is my question for you guys; which of these finishes do you like best? Be honest with me because I can be swayed.

 

I thought I might get busy on this tonight, but I get to go chaperone an Interact party instead.  The joy of being a high school principal.

 

I hope that everyone has a wonderful day.

 

Blessings,

Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bathroom Shelf DIY

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When I started thinking about redoing the master bath I found this awesome picture.

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I wish I had saved the location I found this. I have checked my Pinterest boards and done an image search with no luck. If you find where it came from, please let me know and I will gladly credit it to the source.

Annnnywayyy… I loved the rustic look and knew it would be great in our very builder basic bathroom.

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This is a photo of our home when we were looking at it to purchase. The great piece of furniture did not stay with the house. It is just a very boring sage green space.

As luck would have it, my junker collector mom picked up a small section of fencing for me. It was the perfect size! I wanted thicker shelves on mine so I modified the design above to make it more what I wanted.

I decided I could take this on all on my own. I am trying to do more work on my own so that my Hubby has time to do what he loves. I did not end up having the skills I needed.

He did have to help me connect the air nailer (I tried, but that bugger wouldn’t go in), he put in the screws for the 2X4’s, he ripped the front boards on the table saw because it scares me, and he volunteered to move chop saw for me.

Thanks, Hubby.

The steps are simple.

Cut three 2X4’s about a half inch narrower than the width of the section of fencing.

Figure out where you want the shelves to go, then screw the 2X4 in from the back side of the fencing section so that the wide part of the 2X4 sticks out from the fencing.

Cut 5 sections of fencing planks to length.
3- the length of the 2X4 plus the additional length to go to the edge of the siding

2- small sections to cover the ends

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Hubby ripped one board length in half with the table saw to make the shelf more narrow.

I air nailed them together pretty quickly.

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Here it was when finished.

See the tops of the fence pickets? I liked them, but our rescue dog, Lumi, did not. She chewed one of the pickets off while we weren’t watching. It had to be chopped off even. I like the result even better, but don’t tell Lumi. She was in big trouble.

Here it is, hanging in the bathroom.
I love the results.

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I hope I can learn to to more on my own.

Let me know what you think,

Have a great day.

Blessings,

Karen

I May Be Too Old To Blog

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I am really feeling my age this week. It was a milestone birthday for my daughter, The Southern Belle, and my birthday is just around the corner, but the birthdays are not what is making me feel old. Blogging… well probably more than blogging, technology in general, is making me feel old. I mean like prehistoric, ” I remember when I was your age..” kind of old.

Two years ago my son in law introduced me to blogging.  (Thank you, Big Cat.)  I set up a Blogger account, and spent time learning to work with Blogger. It did not play nice with my iPad so I took another leap and moved to WordPress. It has never been my intent to blog for a living. I have a great job that challenges me and pays me well. I blog and work on furniture because I am an empty-nester who needed a hobby to keep my hands busy and mind occupied after work. I actually lose weight working on furniture because it is so physical and I don’t hate it like the gym. I enjoy connecting with people who I would never meet in any other way and connecting with old friends who sometimes find me by accident. I do however feel really uncool because although I have a personal Instagram account, a personal Pinterest board, and a Twitter account, I really don’t understand two one of them.

When it comes to Twitter, I just don’t get it.  I want everyone to know that this symbol – #- back in my day (there, I said it)  was the pound sign or the symbol for a number. Not sure how it got the name hashtag. I don’t know how to look for anything based on hashtags, so feel free to share the secret with me.

According to my students, who are high schoolers, it is really uncool to use any filters on Instagram (#nofilters). I am not sure why, but okay. I don’t like the filters anyway. I think they make the photos look dumb. My main problem with Instagram is that I have no idea how to follow someone else on Instagram. Oh and I only know how to post to Instagram using a program called Over on my iPad or iPhone. I am stuck if I want to post from a computer or directly from Instagram. I think my kids ( personal and professional) are intentionally keeping that little piece of information from me. Or, maybe they don’t think I could follow the instructions and would be asking for help.

I set up a Facebook page for my blog less than a year ago… with help.  I often mess up on the posts.  I am about 50/50 at successfully linking up to someone’s Linky party, and I cannot, cannot, cannot figure out the bitly thing to give my posts a shorter name.  Sorry folks.  Google + and Google Hangouts?  No clue although we are going to Chromebooks at school next year so I better learn.

All this brings me back to blogging. I think I am going to start a monthly series entitled Keeping It Real. I am more and more concerned because I think Pinterest is causing women to believe that everything has to be a show worthy event or they are a complete and total failure. I put out a call for real life DIY’ers and Bloggers to send me their work space. I hear  often from people, usually on messenger or email, that they like what I do and would do projects and try their hand at refinishing/ repurposing if only they had the space.  The perception seems to be that it is impossible to work without a dedicated space to create in.  Ha!  I have started to some great  photos through Facebook and was feeling pretty good about myself and the project until I heard from Dee at Deeconstructed  and felt like a GEEZER.

( By the way Dee is a very talented DIY’er.  I recommend you read her stuff and she writes an online magazine that is great for picking out some cool projects off blogs I had never read before, but back to my story.)

Here is what she said in the message she sent:

” You should create a whole buzz around it and assign #showmeyourswap or #shopswap or something catchy like that for people to “link up” on Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/FB to get in on fun. That way if they search that hashtag they’ll see everyone’s that sent it in. “

WHAAAT? Dee, I think you are amazing, but are you speaking English? Is there a dictionary I can refer to for assistance? Thesaurus?

Here was my response to Dee:

“Dee- you are so much more equipped to do stuff like that this than me. I only have a Twitter account so I can follow my kids and send messages to my students. I feel like a freakin’ dinosaur when I hear from folks like you. I think this summer I need to go to blog school. Seriously.”

FYI- the series is coming along and she is going to help me with the technology stuff. #iamveryexcited

All this lack of knowledge started me thinking  that in fact I may be too old to blog.   Has technology passed me by so much that I cannot catch up?  Am I a technology geezer who needs to be put out to pasture? Is there any hope for me?

I did some research last night and this is what I discovered.

There are 31 million bloggers in the U. S. A. the average age is 21-35.  (YIKES!)

50.9% of them are women. (This was a surprise to me since ¾ of the men in my family don’t even follow MY amazing blog, much less write one.)

Only 8% of bloggers earn enough blogging to support a family. (I honestly had no idea that many bloggers earn that much money. I get NOTHING for blogging- it is a hobby. Perhaps I need to figure out the whole getting paid thing, hmmm)

81% of bloggers earn less than $100 blogging. ( Yay me, I am in the majority here. #iwriteforfree)

There are 528,000,000 page views monthly. ( Just so you know I have had 66,262 page views in 2 years.)

I did an internet search for ” I am too old to blog” and found that this topic has been written about several times. My favorite was a 26 year old. http://www.littlebirdfashion.com/2012/06/are-you-too-old-to-blog.html

Seriously? I mean, if 26 is too old to blog what does that mean for someone who is more than twice her age? Thank goodness she decided she wasn’t too old! Here is another cute one referring to Little Bird Fashion’s blog: http://www.mymodernvintage.com/2012/06/am-i-too-fat-or-too-old-to-blog.html

I really do want to learn to improve my technology skills and I am going to do that because I like learning new things and I want to feel competent at what I do, but it really circled back to what is bothering me most about the internet/Pinterest and the perception  that what others show you online is what their life is like all the time. Their homes are clean, children are fed healthy meals, and there is domestic bliss.   I feel like a failure when I see slick photos on other blogs or “bells and whistles” that I cannot even understand. For a moment it causes me to forget why I started blogging in the first place and doubt myself. Do I even belong on the blogosphere?

Why yes, I do believe there is a place for even a geezer like me.  I have a unique perspective based on my own personal experience.  What Hubby and I do with furniture and our home is something that anyone can do, and not break the bank.

It really all boils down to the fact that I blog for myself and as long as it is fun for me, I will continue.  If it stops being fun or takes a toll on my self esteem, it will be time to step away.  I wanted to take a minute to thank those of you who read my blog, leave me notes, like my Facebook page, Pin my work, and stay in touch with me.  I really do appreciate you.  #youarethebest

I hope you have a wonderful day,

Blessings,

Karen

Project Update

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Hello, Friends! I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to be mashing a bunch of projects and finds into one pile so you can see what I have done recently, and what I have hanging out in the garage waiting for love. I am really getting anxious to get started using my cedar that has been patiently drying, get started on my bathroom, and get Star Hill, our sweet little near the lake house updated a tad. I just told you all that so you know it is my plan to burn through some projects that are hanging out, taking up space and bugging me. I also have some work for others that I am trying hard to get finished.

Sooo… here goes:

In the hanging out bugging me category

  • China Cabinet- I am going to paint this a very light gray with a patterned back wall.

1960's china cabinet

  • 50% complete Headboard/ Footboard Bench. It is going to be a stunner with storage.

Headboard for storage bench

  • 3 count them 3 tables that need to be finished.  1 of them is going to become a farmhouse table with reclaimed wood on top and is sold.  It is still not done.  All will be beautiful… if I can just get rolling and get them done.

farmhouse table

  • 4 projects for people.   1 is a bench out of their childhood twin bed, 1 a media center, 1 a mid century modern dresser that will complete the bedroom set I am working on and 1 a china cabinet.

navy blue china cabinet
This is my inspiration for the china cabinet. It is going to be a dark blue.
madigan made

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  • red media center

Here is the inspiration for the media center. The piece I am painting is even prettier.

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I hope you can see from the phone photo the detail in this buffet.

  • mid century modern painted dresser

The dresser I will be paint in looks a lot like this one, or at least it will once painted.

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Here is the dresser I will be painting.

  • In the house project category
  • Our bathroom needs to be done.  Board and Batten walls, electrical work done, dresser painted to look like restoration hardware furniture, mirror down, pair of mirrors hung, and tile work.  Not too much huh?  Here is the blog I wrote about our plans.  Bathroom Pinnsperation
  • At Star Hill I want one wall in the den to be covered with corrugated tin roofing from my husband’s family barn.  We need to install a new wood burning stove and hang a raw cedar shelf on that wall. I also want to paint the bedroom and make curtains.  No small feat for this non-sewer.  Here is the bedroom in the unfinished state. Bedroom

Once we are done, I get to start building with the beautiful cedar. It shouldn’t take long, right? Hurry summer so Hubby has the time off.

Restoring a Vintage Oval Triple Mirror

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Are there some things that you wish you could find when you are out looking but you really don’t expect to find those things at a price you would be willing to pay? I have a list of things that fall into dream junk category, and for some reason, mirrors are usually at the top of the list. Vintage mirrors that are ornate are at the top of the top list. Number one on the top of the top list has been a large ornate mirror for above my dresser. I have had a large mirror I bought at Ross years ago above the dresser. It was better than the original triple oak folding mirror that came with the set, especially after I glazed it.
Recently I ran across THE mirror I thought I would never find at a reasonable price; a vintage triple oval mirror from Syracuse Ornamental Company (Syroco). It made from a wood/polymer resin, not just a plastic mold, so I know it was probably produced after 1962 and before 1965. I was born in 1961 and grew up seeing these beautiful gold mirrors. They were always gold, although they varied between being super ornate bright shiny gold to being antique gold not so ornate. The mirror I found online had been hung where the sun had faded it then someone tried to paint it a brownish color. I snagged it for $20.00 and could not wait to get started on her makeover. I thought I would gold leaf the mirror frame until I priced it out. It would have been fourty bucks for the gold leaf and adhesive. All that money on a technique I had never tried…no thank you. A quick search online led me to Design Masters spray paint in 24 carat gold color. It is a great gold color that I will be using again.
gold spray paint

It was less than $4.50 for the can at Michaels with a coupon.

I covered all the mirror with contact paper from Dollar Tree. It is a really cheap masking option if you have to cover a large area.
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I love the color and will be using it for some accent pieces as is, but for our bedroom I wanted a more time-worn look. The solution was another product I had never used, tinted wax. I checked the price of tinted wax and Wow! As my father in law would have said “They are proud of that stuff.” I could not justify paying almost as much for the wax as I payed for the mirror. A quick search on the internet and I found Dee at Deeconstructed blog’s tinted wax “recipe”. You can find it by clicking here: Tinted Wax. The best part; I had everything at the house. Woo Hoo!
Waxing was easier than I thought, just a lot of rubbing with a clean cloth.
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After removing the contact paper and cleaning up the areas that spay paint got on the glass, here is the finished product.

It took work to hang the 60 pound sucker but it was so worth it.

close up mirrror

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syroco mirror

I love the elegant look in our bedroom. I wonder what color the wall behind the bed should be?