Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Writers/Artists Oasis update, or how I saved $450 on a chic message board

I'm getting antsy to start decorating my Writers/Artists Oasis (office/studio remodel) and construction hasn't even started. The plan is finalized, I'll be handing over my hard earned money for a deposit, then it will start. I hope it's all finished before Thanksgiving as my brother's family will be visiting from Texas.

Meanwhile, I saw this cute bulletin / message board on poterybarn.com Unfortunately, the price is more than I can spend.

This is the 3x3 Made By You Pool Style Tile 2.0 Set from Pottery Barn Teen. I love it, just can't afford it at $449.

I went to Michael's and found similar tiles and a frame. At Staples I got a Martha Stewart Living tile module, which I can change up with attachments that snap in and out easily. The items from Michael's were 50% off, including the frame. I paid about $30 for the whole thing.
My photography isn't so good and the frame isn't exactly like the sample but I'm happy with the result. I may add some turquoise at some point. I could paint one of the cork boards. The waves on the 3x3 above are on a cork board. I prefer the 3x2 size, the 3x3 would be too big for my space. 

How I made it. I laid out the squares the way I wanted upside down, then laid the frame and plexi that came with it over so everything was placed even. I marked on the plexi where to drill holes and drilled through the plexi and the wood frame of each square. Two near the top side, and on centered on the bottom of each square. (Be careful not to drill all the way through, which is something I usually do on projects that call for drilling.) I replaced the backer board on the back of the frame and drilled the holes through it, using the plexi as a guide. I then put spacers, because the screws (6x1 round head screws, you want the kind with threads all the way up) were too long. I used 1/4x1/2 inch balsa wood sticks and drilled through them, through the backer and plexi and into the wood frames (or plastic in the case of the MSL square) or each square. I won't be hanging this board but will have it set on a frame shelf. It's a bit heavy anyway to hang on the hardware that came with the frame. It was an inexpensive frame. The frame has an opening for 23.5x35.5 and a mottled bronzy metal finish with square lines. The Michael's squares are 11.5x11.5 and the MSL panel is almost 12x12, which means I had to do some fudging to fit it in.

I ordered these frame shelves, in 10"x4', 10"x3', 2"x3' and 2"x2' and will use them to prop paintings and objects that I can change around without making more holes in the walls. 

Check out all the beautiful things on my wish list on Pinterest.

Have you found any great organizing idea that would work in a Writers/Artists Oasis?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Update: The Road to a Writer’s/Artist’s Oasis.

Last month ago I wrote about my “too much stuff” and how I want to make my office/studio into a Writer’s/Artist’s Oasis. I’ve made a lot of progress. I’ve filled the shed and a quarter of the garage with boxes and bags of my stuff. I gave a bunch away, threw a bunch away, and set aside a bunch for a yard sale. I dismantled my drawing table after years and years. It was the first piece of new furniture I ever bought myself, back when I got my first “professional” job, moved into my first apartment, and got my first paycheck. I haven’t decided yet if it will come back into the room. I have a maple dining room table that my mother’s mother bought her when my parent bought their first house before I was born. It has seniority. I think it will be my main art and craft table, instead of having a table for each.

A modular bookshelf my dad made
for me many years ago.
I have a few more pieces of furniture to move out. The last bits are too heavy and will be moved or rearranged by the contractor. Poor guy. The last two bookcases have to be dismantled.

Last week the contractor came by to look at the job and I gave him my wish list. He was supposed to get back to me in a week to give me the quote, but no show so far, 9 days later. He comes highly recommended by a friend who had her small kitchen remodeled. If I accept his quote, or agree to hire him with some things cut back, he can't start until mid October! Argh!

I should get another quote. I’m so bad at that. Someone gives me a quote, I want to get the job done, I accept it.

To give myself motive to get this job done I have purchased some things for the new room. It will be peacock themed. I got these items from www.touchofclass.com

Peacock themed items from Touch of Class

I bought the 2’6”x8 runner size rug. The vase will hold my 25-year collection of peacock feathers that the semi-wild peacocks- that roam my neighborhood –have dropped over the years. They- the birds and their feathers -are directly responsible for my fixation with peacocks. The paintings will go on each side of the large feather painting below, which I bought at Pier 1 (50% off!). I'm going to touch it up with more turquoise and maybe some of the iridescent paint I bought for the pendent.

40" x 40" statement piece from Pier 1.

I found a pendent light at a rummage sale for $5 and decided to peacockify it. I dare not confess how much I spent on the do-dads to decorate it. I call it Flights of Fancy. It’s fun to be purely whimsical when making something. 
Too over the top?

Do you always get more than one quote or estimate when you hire someone? I'm very inexperienced with it. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Five Things Harlequin Romances Aren’t ~repost~

I read this blog in June by author Barbara Wallace and liked it so much I asked if I could reblog it. Originally posted on the  Chocolate Box Writers blog and Donna Alward’s Goodreads~ blog The Chocolate Box
June 26, 2014

Five Things Harlequin Romances Aren’t (& One Thing They Are) by Barb Wallace

Barbara Wallace

1.  They aren’t formulaic

. Unless you count the fact all the books involve a happy ending. Otherwise, you will find that Harlequin Romances often push the envelope in terms of themes and content. 
2.  They aren’t poorly written. Harlequin’s editorial staff is among the best in the business. What’s more, you’ll find Harlequin romances among the finalists in most romance competitions. Hardly a surprise since the writers work extremely hard to create strong, emotional reads.
3.  They aren’t full of simpering, weak heroines. In fact, Harlequin’s heroines are often the epitome of female strength. Harlequin heroines have jobs, they raise children, and most importantly, they seek to control their own futures. What’s more empowering than women controlling their destinies? 
4.  They aren’t all the same.

 I’m not just talking about the various lines.  I’m talking about Harlequin novels themselves. Every Harlequin author has her own unique voice – and she creates novels that reflect that voice. 
5.  They aren’t bodice rippers.

 I won’t even dignify that particular charge. 
So what ARE Harlequins?
Harlequins ARE well, written, satisfying, fun, classic romance novels.
About now, my fellow Chocolate Box members are chuckling and saying to themselves “Barb’s on her soapbox again.”  Damn right.  I can’t help myself — Harlequin Series books are such wonderfully written stories, and yet they go ignored. Not just ignored – disparaged. Put down  by other writers and readers who have never picked up a Harlequin in their lives. It ticks me off to see the word Harlequin being used as a synonym for cheesy.  Harlequin writers work their butts off to create these stories.  We agonize over goal, motivation and conflict as much as any romance author.
And for what? So the major reviewers can pass on us in favor of independent, sexy reads? So readers who would never dream of picking up a Harlequin can turn around and buy a similar book simply because it doesn’t bear the Harlequin logo?
Adding insult to injury, our lines are losing shelf space in our best retail outlets. Those readers who might read us can’t because they can’t find Harlequin books anywhere but online. Even Walmart has reduced shelf space to only one or two lines. 
Let’s face it, Harlequin Series is like the Rodney Dangerfield of the Romance world. We never get any respect.
At first blush, this rant might seem a little like preaching to the choir.  After all, Chocolate Box readers already appreciate series romance. But that’s exactly why I’m ranting. I’m hoping you’ll help us remind people that there is more to Harlequin than people think. Recommend your favorite books to friend, complain to your local stores if you can’t find your favorite series, and encourage people to #ReadHarlequinRomance.  It’s time we start re-educating readers.
Thanks!  We appreciate the help.  (I’ll step off the soapbox now.)
~ Barb Wallace

I would like to add some facts from Harlequin:
If you haven't read a Harlequin Romance, will you try one? If you have, what is your favorite line and who is/are your favorite author(s)?