Monday, March 25, 2013

Murphy? or Providence?

My dad has a story he likes to tell of his and mom’s first years of married life back in the sixties. He worked at a steel mill; she was a full-time homemaker. They had very little money, but one month he earned an extra $200 on his paycheck. They came up with all sorts of plans for what they might do with the money, but then Mom had a dental emergency, and the cost to fix her teeth was exactly $200. “We just couldn’t get ahead,” Dad says. “Could not get ahead.”

Which is how I feel sometimes. Kat and I have a little extra left over from the tax return that didn’t get spent on the sewing room project. This is the first year we haven’t had to put our tax return on debt, having paid off our credit card. We’ve been talking of putting it toward either our kitchen re-do or our emergency savings. Or, hmm, I’ve always wanted a KitchenAid stand mixer. Is now the time to start researching deals? We could consider it part of the kitchen update (I can rationalize any purchase).

But life throws curves. We had a severe wind storm blow through San Antonio last month. A few of our shingles were knocked off. The repairs cost $270. Then my primary care doc sent me to the dermatologist for a suspicious mole. Two biopsies later, I find out I am to have two skin thingies excised (one a basil cell carcinoma, the other some atypical cells that could turn into a melanoma). I’m sure we’ll pay at least up to our deductible, which is $500, then whatever the co-insurance is after that. Those two things together take care of the last of the tax return and more.

I’ve thought about Dad’s story over the years. This phenomenon of coming into money at the same time some unexpected expense pops up is certainly not unique to my parents. It happens to everyone. I can look at it as Murphy riding in to snatch that extra money out of our hands, or see it as a caring universe (or Providence or however you might name it) giving me what we need when we need it. The first viewpoint leads to frustration and a lot of “Why me’s?” The second evokes gratitude. I will admit I feel frustrated, but I am going to choose to be grateful that we happen to have this money when we need it to repair our home and take care of my health. And I don’t need a mixer anyway :-)

Friday, March 15, 2013

House Project "Reveal"

Since my latest house transformation project is done, I thought I'd tinker with the look of this blog. My tinkering is not over, but I feel I'm getting closer to what I want.

But now, on to the sewing / guest room transformation and the reveal!

My "before" pictures are of the room in sewing mode:

Drab and cluttered, right?  Normally I have my sewing machine out on the sewing table (where the gray kitty sits in the first picture), and to my right (I'm standing in a small closet) along the wall is my cutting table. I took this after we moved the piano, which used to sit where the small chest is. No wonder I felt claustrophobic when I tried to quilt.

And here are the "after" pictures, two of the sewing room and one in guest room mode:

Thanks to Molly for all her help. I couldn't have done this without her.

Thanks to Neville for adding the perfect touch to the bed.

In guest room mode, the sewing table folds up into a nice-looking cabinet and rolls to the right of the closet in place of the cutting table, which rolls back to our bedroom for the duration of the visit. The pretty green chair sits against the wall to the left, so that the sewing cabinet and chair provide places for guests to set their luggage.

I can't express how pleased I am with our results! I've never considered myself especially creative in  interior design, and neither does Kat. Believe me, our projects don't always turn out this nice.

One of the unexpected bonuses is that the shelves on either side of the Murphy bed provide enough space that we were able to get rid of one of the book cases in our office, opening up that space a little more. And I love, love, love having my beloved books in my creative work space.

There are some additional finishes we could do. It would be nice to have a smaller, more decorative lamp, and maybe an accent rug, a different ceiling fan, but we splurged on the chair ($80 at Kirkland's for the perfect green chair), and on good quality wood and paint. The others are things we can pick up as it fits in the budget.

So, we broke our pledge again of no house projects in January and February, and we used tax return money we were going to put toward the kitchen re-do scheduled for later this year, but I have no regrets. I feel that ultimately we bought light and space. Money well spent.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

DIY Project - From Despair to Good Times

How is it that once a project is begun, the world comes crashing in?  Kat and I know to allot more time than we think is needed for any house project. We started the minor renovation of my sewing / guest room with a hard deadline of March 10, the date of the arrival of my sister and nieces for Spring Break. We had two mostly empty weekends to work with, and figured the project would take only one of those weekends with the cracks filled in during the week.

I’m sure you can guess the rest of the story.

On Saturday the ninth, we were frantically finishing up the room while trying to clean, shop for groceries, prep for meals, and all the other things that go with getting ready for guests. We made it, barely.

The unexpected problems that cropped up were, first, my getting a nasty cold and passing it on to Kat. We worked through it, but fatigue was definitely a factor. Then Kat was assigned a trainee at work, which meant much longer hours, and this on top of battling a cold virus. Then I had some issues pop up with volunteer work that needed attention. I fell into that middle-of-project funk when I despair that we’re improving anything and wonder why we made so much seemingly unnecessary work for ourselves.

But in the end we finished just in time for guests to enjoy (very satisfying!!) Today guests have gone home, and I need to clean before I take “after” pictures. I’ll be back soon to show off the project. I am VERY pleased with how it turned out.

Despair is gone, and now time to enjoy, and try hard to ward off the itch to tackle some other project anytime soon.