And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A New Life

I turned 35 last weekend. Happy Birthday to me.

In a lot of ways, I feel like I'm just now starting my life. It's all brand new. The last year has been full of learning and growing and becoming something better, and it feels like a birthday is the perfect symbol of that.

It's exciting.

My birthday was about as low-key as you can get. I worked the night before and the night of, so I came home from work and crawled in to bed. There I stayed for the entire day, napping to my heart's content. Honestly, I think it was the perfect birthday. :-)

Having a birthday so close to the new year makes for some serious self evaluation and contemplation all at once. The good part of that is I get it all done at the beginning of the year, and don't have to worry about it for 12 months. What? That isn't the way I'm supposed to do it? Oh, well. *giggle*

This year I'm really happy with things. There is always room for improvement, and I have a list a mile long of things I want to accomplish over time. I'm being nice to myself and not putting time limits on any of it. I want to do one thing every day to either accomplish a task or work in the direction of getting it done. That's it. As long as I can say I did something to move myself in the right direction every day, I'm happy.

And boy, that feels good.

~....and that's all I have to say about that....~

Friday, January 04, 2013

One Thing I've Noticed.... that the longer a person goes without posting on their blog, the harder it is to get back into the swing of things.

I've written this post about a million times, and I haven't been satisfied with any of the drafts. Like I said, it's harder to get back into it after a stretch of time off.

Things have been going well here at the Barefoot Cottage. We survived the "end of the world" on 12-21-12, though Little Sprout was very disappointed that there were no zombies at all that day. Seriously. She cried. The holidays flew by, and we still aren't done celebrating. We have 2 more celebrations to get through before our "holiday season" is truly over.

I have started planning this year's garden already, even though it seems silly with a couple feet of snow sitting on top of my garden beds. I took last year completely off gardening, and I missed it more than I can say. I really needed the break, and I don't regret it, but there is something so wonderful about fresh veggies you grow yourself. Besides, my grocery budget groaned under the weight of store bought fresh veggies. Yikes!

The new year has started, and soon my Sprouts will be heading back to school. I have noticed that not much has changed from one year to another around here, but my attitude certainly has. I'm happier, more hopeful. I'm excited for the new year and what it will bring.

~...and that's all I have to say about that....~

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Latest Project

Here at Barefoot Cottage, we have a lot of disposable furniture. You know what I mean, the big box store presswood and laminate stuff that is fabulous if you move often or live in apartments. It's easy to move, pretty modular (so it fits in a variety of spaces), and relatively cheap.

I hate it. All of it. Every pressed sawdust inch of it. Every time I look at this stuff, I feel like this isn't really our  home. Like I have to be ready to move at any time. And yes, I realize I have issues. 

So, when Mr. Barefoot decided he was going to get himself a new TV for his birthday, and we realized that the new TV was not going to fit in the old entertainment center, a wonderful opportunity arose. I got to buy REAL furniture!

Now, you would think that I would run out and get a real piece of furniture for the TV, right? No way, Jose. See, I already had this wonderful antique dresser (my folks got it for me as a kid) that I thought would be perfect for the TV. It needed a coat of paint (or two, or three), but it would be great. Unfortunately, it was currently being used as storage for our tiny main floor bath. To solve the bathroom storage issue, I took one of the cheap modular bookcases from the dining room, and put that where the dresser had been. That was a much better fit, anyway, as the bookcase was narrower and taller. It fit the space better, and I was able to fit TONS of stuff in bins on the shelves. Not a perfect solution, but pretty good. That left a gaping space in the dining room, and a single lonely bookcase that I didn't really like anyway. 

So, to make a long story short(er): When my hubby got a TV, it was the perfect opportunity for me to get a china cabinet!

$$ is always a factor, and I found this lovely little piece on Craigslist for $50. It's HUGE. Like, 70"w by 79" high. It takes up almost the whole wall!

It was nice enough the way it was, but there was some damage here and there. Chips, damaged veneer, that kind of thing. I didn't take close ups, because I was using my cell to take pics. It was a little dated, but very solid and exactly the size I needed. And I'm a lover of all things DIY, so I figured it would be a piece of cake to spruce it up a little. 

Yeah, piece of cake. What was I thinking. ;-)

It took forever to get all the hardware off, and then I started sanding. And sanding..... and sanding.... Finally, after my arms were about ready to fall off, I was ready to paint. Of course I forgot the all important step of priming the piece, but I was in a hurry. What can I say? Then I had nightmares dealing with the cold fall weather (it being too cold for the paint to adhere properly) and finding time to work on it, and oh-my-gosh-I-need-this-ready-by-the-end-of-the-week-and-I'm-running-out-of-time-what-am-I-going-to-do!!!!! No worries, I made it happen. 

I frosted the two outside glass doors, putting lace down and spraying with Rust-Oleum Specialty Frosted Glass spray paint

I know it's not the greatest picture. But it looks cool, anyway. 

The rest got painted Heirloom White, again by Rust-Oleum. Love that stuff. Mr. Barefoot was hoping for a flat or satin black, but I thought that it would be too dark in our tiny little cottage. Luckily, he was willing to be swayed to my way of thinking. 

All the hardware got hit with a coat or two of Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint. Love that stuff. I used it on an old brass lamp/table we got for free when Mr. P's folks moved and didn't want to keep it. Instant facelift on anything. It's also the paint I used on our bathroom vanity to make it all pretty and new. Hunh. Come to think of it, I used it on Mr. Barefoot's old nightstand, too, that got repurposed as a tv stand in the guest space/family room downstairs. Yeah, I love that stuff.

Then came the real trouble. I knew I wanted to distress the china cabinet a bit. But should I antique it or not? I debated and debated, then finally went for it....... and hated it. I have this love hate relationship with fake antique finishes. I love them in pictures, but in real life it just looks dirty to me. So, I dry brushed with the Heirloom White over the antiquing, and hit it with the sandpaper again everywhere I had done previously. It was just enough to tone down the antique glaze, without getting rid of it completely. Finished product? Love it:

I know, I know. I should have taken a picture (and closeups) before I filled it with all of my stuff. Sorry, folks, I was too excited to get my house back in order... at least somewhat. I'm toying with the idea of putting fabric behind the frosted glass doors. The idea was to hide all my books, and the frosted glass just isn't opaque enough to do the job. I think it will help bring out the detail in the frosted lace, too. Mr. Barefoot wants me to leave it alone, but... yeah, when do I ever listen to him. ;-)

china cabinet - $50
paint - approx $30 for both heirloom white and glass paint. I already had the ORB
sandpaper, dropcloth, misc - approx $20

Total: Right around $100, and a few days of hard work followed by several days of cure time for the paint before moving it in. I did not put any clear coat on. I may regret that in the future, but quite frankly I ran out of time. I also know myself well enough to know that this project isn't finished. I will probably be hauling it out in the spring to work on it again, and I don't really want to have to strip off another layer when that happens. So it stays as it is for now, and it's a VAST improvement from what I had.

Now I just have to paint the walls (I have picked the perfect color already), replace all the trim in the house, make a new table top for our dining table and paint the base and chairs........ 

Next time, maybe I'll tell you the story of my dresser makeover...

~....And that's all I have to say about that....~

Monday, October 08, 2012

So Thankful

2-3 days a week, my Sprouts are at school. That means I have most of a day all to myself. Me time, what a blessing!

I have a project in the works. Yesterday, Mr. Barefoot and I bought a china cabinet off Craigslist for $50. I know! That's a steal, right? It looks a bit dated, but the thing is sturdy as could be and will provide much needed storage in our tiny closet-less house.

After doing a whole bunch of dreaming on Pinterest, I decided I was going to paint it. Maybe I will add an antique finish, I'm not quite decided on that. And I'm going to frost two of the four glass door fronts to better hide some of the uglies that will be stored in it.

Today I began work on it, sanding and sanding and sanding. Then I started painting. Grrr. I love painting, but this particular piece has a some curvy bits and carving that is giving me fits! Tomorrow I will be sanding down my drips, and trying another coat.

Anyway. What does all this have to do with the Sprouts being in school, you ask? Simple. I tried to be out there working all day with Little Sprout hanging on me the entire time. She wanted to know what I was doing. She wanted me to stop what I was doing to watch her fly with her umbrella just like Mary Poppins. She kicked at my can of paint. She begged for goodies. She banged her finger and cried for a band aid.

The child would not stop.

But tomorrow....... tomorrow she goes to school all day. Hehe. All day. Now, I'm working tonight and tomorrow night, so I probably should sleep a bit. But I know I will be out in the garage with my project, blissing out at the idea that I can work uninterrupted for a length of time.


Monday, October 01, 2012

Homecoming Week

This week is Homecoming Week at our local district, and the girls are to dress in a different way every day.  My poor kids don't even own any clothing in the school colors, much less anything that would work for Neon Day or 80's Day, or whatever else the school has planned!

So Big Sprout was thinking out loud today about what she was going to do for the rest of the week. I did something I almost never do. I offered to take her shopping at the local Goodwill store for items to wear this week. I figured there was no way I was going to spend retail prices on neon or 80's theme clothing. Thrift store stuff is more than good enough for once in a lifetime wear.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Big Sprout isn't big on shopping. Really, she isn't. She hates to ask for things, hates to spend money, hates to try clothes on. Still, her desire to show her school spirit was stronger than her dislike of stores. Off we went. At first, it was like pulling teeth. I was digging through racks while she stood there staring into space. Pretty soon, though, she was poking her fingers into the racks as I flipped. "Ooooh, that one's pretty" actually came out of her mouth a couple times! I couldn't believe it. Next thing I knew, the girl was throwing clothes at me left and right, wanting everything in sight. Lol!!! I didn't have the heart to reign her in too much, though I did end up setting a spending limit. When she hit that, I shooed her out the door as quick as I could.

It was a lot of fun to watch her come alive in the store. I think she was encouraged by my never ending response of "yes" to everything she liked. Thank goodness my kid has a pretty modest style! I think things would have gone much differently if she would have wanted things that are trashy or offensive. Ok, I will admit to raising an eyebrow at the lime green belt she fell in love with, but I can't say there was anything really wrong with it. I just thought it was ugly. We ended up getting her stuff not just for this week of weird outfits, but stuff she can wear the rest of the year too. I especially loved how she tried so hard not to be happy. It was like she thought she was too cool to enjoy shopping. Oh, the horror!.

Silly girl.

She is so grown up in many ways, I often forget how young Big Sprout is. Today made me think about one way I have failed her as a parent, I think. I would say my "style" is casual to the point of slobhood. Not because I don't care about how I look, or like to dress up pretty now and again, but because my lifestyle just isn't one where nice clothes matter. I clean house and cook all night at work, then come home and do the same. It's not exactly a lifestyle where you worry about how the seat of your pants fits or if there are stains on your shirt. Ponytails are much more convenient and practical than actually fixing my hair. And makeup? Why? I will just sweat it off while I'm scrubbing the floor.

I think I have inadvertently given her the impression that it somehow makes you less of a good person if you are worried about how you look.That somehow being aware of your appearance takes away from your ability to be a hard worker, or have a kind heart, or be intelligent. I haven't modeled for her the idea that it shows you care about yourself and others if you put a bit of thought into your appearance. I haven't really shown her that it can actually be fun. I'm not saying I want her to be a trend-slave, or spend hours in front of a mirror to make sure she looks "just perfect". I just want her to know that it can be a good thing to wear clothes that fit well and flatter your body and coloring.

I guess I'm just hoping that today will go a little ways towards fixing that. It has also made me aware that I need to make that effort on a daily basis to make sure I show her that there is nothing wrong with putting on an outfit that is flattering and (dare I say it) pretty just because it is flattering and pretty. I need to show her that it's okay to care enough about yourself to make an effort to show yourself in your best light. And, maybe, I need to take her shopping more often. :-)

~....and that's all I have to say about that...~

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Tomorrow, Little Sprout begins her second month of Kindergarten. Two or three days a week, I get the house to myself for 7.5 hours. I thought at first that I would be a whirlwind of activity on these days. The freedom of being able to clean a room and have it stay clean for longer than a few minutes, the joy of being able to put on MY music and enjoy MY home....

It hasn't worked out that way, so far.

Hehe. Mr. Barefoot says I just need some decompression time, that I will get into the swing of things and get a cleaning groove going. He may be right. He may be wrong. We'll see how things go.

The first day of school for my youngest was, to say the least, full of laughs. After counting down for weeks to her first day of school, Little Sprout panicked when the bus actually arrived at our stop. She ran to the bus, ran back to me, then kind of spun in a circle for a few seconds. Finally, she stopped and yelled at me: "Can I get on the bus now, Mom?!"

I shooed her on the bus, and enjoyed a day to myself. This particular day I was very productive. I rearranged and deep cleaned the living room. It was back breaking work, but I loved the result! Expecting my girls to ride the same bus home (arriving home a little before 4pm), 3pm found me sitting down to a cold drink with the intention of enjoying my handiwork. Imagine my surprise when I heard the front door banging and in walked Little Sprout!

It turns out that the bus company does two "runs" of buses, and Little Sprout is on the first. So she gets home about 40 minutes before her sister. Luckily, an older girl who gets off at our stop was willing to walk my Little Sprout home. Mother of the Year award, right here folks.

Immediately upon entering the house, Little Sprout began throwing a tantrum of epic proportions. It turns out I had absolutely no right to put the furniture in different places. Who knew? I tried to distract her from her upset at the "new" living room by asking about her day, but the only thing she could remember to tell me was that the lunch lady doesn't make sandwiches with the things she likes on them. *sigh*

We took a peek at the lunch menu, and decided that she really wasn't going to like anything on it. Off to the store I went to find her a lunch cooler, and we have been doing cold lunches since. I've actually been enjoying it, as I've been trying to put together fake-Bento lunches for her. We both like the pretty little meals I have come up with. I don't do anything really authentic, I just cut everything into cute shapes and stack things in interesting ways to make pictures. Luckily, my little one loves fresh veggies and fruits, so I am stuffing her lunches with those items! Big Sprout is also doing cold lunches, but she refuses to let me "cute-ify" them. She likes to make her own, thank you very much!

We have settled into a bit of a rhythm now. Little Sprout is happy to head off to school every day, and Big Sprout is being an awesome help by getting her on the bus the mornings that I am at work. I am enjoying the quiet for those hours that I have the house to myself, and maybe.... well, we'll see if things start getting a little cleaner around here! :-)

Just about everything else at the Barefoot Cottage is bumping along the same as always. We manage to keep ourselves plenty busy, and sleep is still on the back burner for this Barefoot Gardener.

~....and that's all I have to say about that...~

Sunday, July 08, 2012

I Read Too Fast

I learned to read early. Both my parents are avid readers, and they were patient enough to read to me often. I don't really remember learning to read, it seems like I always could. Some books were harder than others, but I don't ever remember feeling like I couldn't read something. The only question was if the story was interesting enough for me to put in the effort or not. There were plenty of books I read in my younger years with a Webster's Dictionary on the bed next to me, so I could understand what was going on. The dictionary was a gift from my parents, too. Aren't they wonderful? Maybe most kids wouldn't want a dictionary as a gift, but I loved it. My thesaurus, too, when I got around to my own fumbling attempts at writing.

 I remember, in grade school, I took a "special" reading class. There was always a hint of shame about it, as my advanced reading class was held in the same area of the school that the special education classes were held. I was often teased that I must be stupid to need classes in that part of the school, and yet it didn't seem right to set the kids straight by showing them how simple their reading materials really were.

That's alright.

When I was in about 4th grade, I taught myself speed reading. My greatest aspiration in this life was to read every single thing ever written, and I figured I had better learn to read as fast as possible. After all, there was quite a pile of reading material already in the world, and authors kept making more every day.

Reading has been an escape for me, a joy, and a learning experience. Whenever life gets troublesome (heck, even when life is just dandy), I can always head off to some other world where someone else's problems are bigger than mine, and are resolved by the end of the book. I can travel to far off places, meet exciting characters, experience adventures not available in my present life. Even the shallowest piece of fluff fiction can teach me something, even if it's only what I don't like.

I've even read a book about how to read a book, if that makes any sense. My Sprouts got a kick out of it, too, so I won't be offended if you laugh. The idea was that I wanted to learn how to read a book analytically. I kept thinking I was missing out on themes and symbolism and all those "edjicated" type things. Turns out I wasn't. But at least now I know.

My goals in reading have changed a bit as I got older. I don't think I want to read every single thing ever written any more. I have become more selective, I guess. I still have an impressive "to-read" list, though, and I figure (what with new additions to the list at least every week) it will take me the rest of my life to accomplish it.

Now, having said that, you would think that it would be a good thing for me to read fast. You're probably right. I have seen some examples, recently, of folks who really struggle with reading. It reminded me to be grateful that it comes so easily to me.

On the other hand.....

Sometimes it's frustrating. I no longer actively use my speed reading skills, but I'm able to devour your average novel (light fiction) in about 6-8 hours. That sounds like bragging. It's not. In fact, it's a real pain in the butt. I figure (with my work schedule) I can go through 4-6 novels a week, and still get all my work-work and housework done. That's a lot of books. It's a lot of books  to carry around, it's a lot of books to store, it's a lot of books to buy, it's a lot of books to keep straight in my head. I've mastered the art and skill of reading while cooking, reading while walking, reading while cleaning. Yeah, sometimes I get carried away a little.

I'm only complaining (and not really hard) because so far this weekend I have read 4 novels. 4 novels that were fun and entertaining and..... well, I just wish it would have lasted longer. I know I have piles of books that I can read, but when I read something that I really like I always wish that it didn't have to end. I try, when I'm reading a good book, to slow myself down. I try to savor the experience. And I fail every time. I get swept away in my imagination, and my eyes just dance across the pages. All too soon I'm at the last page, wanting to turn immediately to the first and begin again. Unfortunately, that is unfailingly a mistake, as reading a book a second (or third, or fourth) time without giving it a "rest" is never quite satisfying. Usually, if I give it a month or two between readings, I can rediscover most of the fun, but that breathless anticipation of "what comes next?" is gone after that first reading. Ever after, the book can be a joy to return to in the way a visit with old friends or a vacation to a favored spot can be, but it will never hold that same heady rush.

There is always hope, though. New authors and old are writing stories all the time, and every time I open a new one, there is the chance that this will be the next book I fall in love with.

~....and that's all I have to say about that....~