Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Don't forget to call the orthodontist

Last week I finally had a consultation for orthodontics for Rowan, (kid #6 needing braces). I totally picked the doctor based on the location of his office. After doing braces for 5 of the kids already, I know how often those appointments are, and how common it is for a bracket to fall off and need an emergency appointment. It took forever, but the lobby of the office had an arcade, and an ice cream and slushy bar, which made it tolerable. After rounds of x-rays and a meeting with the rather short doctor who didn't look me in the eye when he talked to me, to discuss treatment options, I met with the financial person to discuss cost. Well, I think I know who is paying for that arcade and slushy bar, me! In approximately 24 months, Rowan will have straight teeth, and i'll be $6,700 poorer (just $4,700 after insurance).

I ended up leaving with a slight case of sticker shock, and instead of scheduling the next appointment to start treatment, I pulled the, "I'll need to discuss this with my husband" excuse. When I got home I quickly posted to Facebook to ask the opinions of my friends on the cost of their orthodontic care. Despite already paying for braces for 5 of the kids, I honestly couldn't remember what one of their entire treatment plans actually cost. All I know is that I don't remember the total being more than both Cal, and Landon's first cars, combined.
Answers came from all over the world, (the joys of a military past life), with costs ranging from $2,000 to almost $7,000 for treatment. Because my quote was one near the top end. I had to get a second opinion.

I remembered back to the fall festival that I had attended at my little kids' school when we were just getting settled after moving here. I had bought a few things at a silent auction fundraiser that was part of the event, a craft basket that Lily just had to have and promised she would share with her brothers, and a gift certificate for orthodontic treatment. I paid $150 for the gift certificate which granted me a savings of $1,500 off the total cost of treatment, which was estimated to be approximately $6,000. At the time I thought that seemed super ridiculously expensive, not realizing that that's the going rate in Las Vegas-if the estimate I got from the arcade and slushy orthodontist was any indication of the going rate.

So, I dug the gift certificate out of a pile of papers in a drawer in the office and gave them a call. Three weeks later, our appointment for a second opinion is tomorrow. I'm hopeful for a better price than the first place and a waiting room that is even half as cool would still be good enough. And an orthodontist who looks me in the eye when going over the treatment plan would be good too. What i'm hoping for the most is to leave the appointment grateful that my $150 silent auction investment really does end up saving me $1,500.



(Do not under estimate local businesses that offer services, when soliciting donations for silent auctions and other fundraisers. Window installation, lawn care, pest control, plastic surgery centers, even orthodontists have to grow their businesses too are happy to donate to local charity events.)

Monday, April 17, 2017

This is how the article about the couple traveling to their wedding, that were removed from a United flight, should read...


Couple tries to steal free upgrade from United Airlines in Houston

HOUSTON -- A couple headed to Costa Rica for their wedding Saturday had to be removed from a United flight by a U.S. marshal for not following crew member directives after trying to steal upgraded seats without paying for them.

Michael Hohl and his fiancĂ©, Amber Maxwell, were near last to board United Airlines Flight 1737, headed from Houston to Liberia, Costa Rica. According to Hohl, a man was already in their assigned row napping when they approached their seats. They used this as an excuse to move to higher-fare-seating three rows up, in row 21 "economy plus" seating, without permission and without paying the required fee. 

After explaining to the couple that upgrading was not an option at this point in the boarding process, the couple was told to return to their assigned seats. After multiple attempts to sit in the wrong seats, and refusal to follow the crew’s directives and return to their assigned seats, a U.S. Marshall came onto the plane and asked them to get off.

Unlike Dr. Dao, who made headlines last week for refusing to exit an aircraft when asked first by the flight crew, second by the operations agent, and lastly by law enforcement, resulting in his forced removal, the couple finally cooperated and got off the plane without further incident.

Airline customers do not have a right to take better seats than they pay for. Nor do they have the right to make their own rules. Refusal to follow airline policies and aircraft safety procedures will result in removal from the aircraft for the safety of the crew and passengers and will not result in monetary compensation. 

                        Adapted from USA Today: United Airlines boots couple traveling to their wedding on half-empty plane

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Painting primitive pine

Today wasn't supposed to be a work day but I stopped at the shop to catch up on a few things and ended up spending much of the day at Beach House. Jackie and I touched base, dealt with a little drama (yes, even at Beach House there is some drama behind the scenes), and I finished a piece of furniture. It's hard for me to see any day as productive, no matter what I accomplish, if it doesn't result in at least one new piece of inventory complete and on the showroom floor. I finished the primitive pine blanket chest/cabinet that I started a couple of days ago and wrote about in my last post. I posted a "before" picture and promised an "after". The piece turned out just as beautiful as I had anticipated. It is hard to go wrong working with primitive pine. It's easy to sand, easy to paint and it is so simple to distress. Every square headed nail that shows it's shape thought the paint is a mark of age, quality and craftsmanship-a true gem.






Friday, June 13, 2014

What are you working on today?

I get asked a few regular questions every day: 


Do you use chalk paint? 
Where do find all of this stuff?
What are you working on today? 

The first two answers never change. No, I don't use chalk paint and I buy all over. From Pensacola to Maine, there isn't a thrift store, antique store, or yard sale that I won't stop at. The answer to the third question changes by the day, even the hour. Sometimes I work on the pieces that are needed in the store. Other times my decision is driven by whatever piece ignites a creative spark.




I bought this chest from the back barn of one of my favorite antique stores. It was one of those pieces that was literally in pieces, sitting by the back door. It caught my eye and the price was right. I'm not sure what this piece is. It has a flip top like a blanket chest, drawers like a dresser and doors like a cabinet. It is square nail construction (signs of an early primitive), it is solid pine, and the storage potential is awesome. The top has been replaced, the left door needs to be re-attached and the corner has been chewed by Fido. THIS is a piece that ignites a creative spark.

I am so excited to work on it, to transform it into something beautiful! I'll post pictures when it's ready.

With a shallow storage area under the flip-up top, this piece is perfect for displaying pillows or a quilt collection.
Primitive pine is my favorite kind of wood to work with and this piece was a reminder of why that is. True antique wood (over 100 years old) is nice and dry with strong grains. This dry wood takes paint very easily but the stubbornness and persistence of the grain always works itself through the paint. You can see and feel the beautiful old lines of the grain through the paint. With only a light sanding the new paint achieves the perfect weathered and timeworn look of a true primitive.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Wooden Wall in the Family Room

I have been having so much fun with the DIY projects at Beach House that I put my house renovations on hold for a while. It's hard to believe that we've been in our home (renovating) for over 2 years already and the store is almost a year old! Motivated by Dave's retirement from the military last weekend as well as my oldest son's high school graduation, and the party I was hosting at our home afterward, I had to make some progress on the house. I didn't get as far as I would have liked, but I did make some major changes. My favorite project? It is most certainly the perfectly cottagy shiplap-look wood wall I crafted in our horribly outdated sunken family room. 

I used old pine fence boards for this project. They had been laying in the yard since last year when we started building a fence and never finished it. These are the same kinds of boards you see frequently at the store, we use them for walls, signs, and to make some furniture. I brushed each one different shades of aqua, white and grey. I sanded each board and put them together like a puzzle making sure each board was nailed into the stud. I decided to use rough  1' X 4" pine boards to trim out the door frames. Instead of replacing the doors, they got a new coat of white paint. 

There is quite a bit more work to do in the room but the wall is the perfect focal piece. 

Another board wall in my nice room.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Behind the Scenes Look at Our Hobo Camp

When I started this blog a few years ago I chose the name True Skinny. The name came after I had been looking through Facebook and really started thinking about the image of my life I had created online through carefully chosen pictures of my perfect family, slim body, and organized home. When I compared that life to reality I realized that only part of it was true. By posting pictures of the kids when they weren't fighting, crying or threatening to run away, photos of my skinny side, and interior shots of the one clean room in the house, my Facebook image was a pretty good-looking reality.

In contrast, I wanted my blog to be the real True Skinny, a true-to-life account of the workings of life as a mother of 7, military wife, antiques dealer, freelance writer and home renovator. But this morning I realized that some of the things that I continue to keep "hidden" are the things that make me and my family real. My philosophy has always been that actions and the way you treat people are far more important than the way you look. That being the case, why did I let our hobo camp driveway tick me off the way it did this morning?

So, this morning when I left to drive the middle schoolers to school at a little after 7:00 am I was tired. I was cranky because I stayed up too late painting furniture. I hit the snooze about 4 times and had just enough time to throw on one of Dave's huge sweatshirts before I had to run out the door. There is so much crap piled up in our bedroom that I nearly killed myself trying to find my slippers. Neither of the middle schoolers-Evi or Landon-had set alarms, so I ran franticly to their rooms banging on doors yelling, " Wake up, you're late!". We haven't grocery shopped because payday is tomorrow, so a packaged pop-tart was the best I could do for breakfast.

Evi commented, "I'd rather starve."

I decided to sit in the car and wait for them to come out. What happened next is my inspiration for this entire blog post. This is the scene that I saw out the windshield.



I sat staring at my driveway and yard in disgust. I thought "What would I do if people actually saw the way we live?" Then I realized that people do see this. My neighbors drive by my house every day. When new friends' parents' drop their kids off at my house they see it; although I always offer the disclaimer, "Please excuse the mess, we are under renovation." Then I thought about my blog and wondered what you would think, because until now, I would never publish a picture showing this kind of chaos. Would you be surprised by the mess? Would you be reliveved knowing that my life with 7 kids isn't always perfectly clean, well organized and painted a pretty shade of distressed pink paint?

When Landon got in the car I asked him, "Do you realize that it looks like we live in a hobo camp?"

His response was, "No, what it looks like is that we have a son who has a hobby of fixing up go-carts and dirt bikes. There is nothing unsafe there and it isn't going to rain."

After what I will admit was kind of a long lecture on the way to school about picking up after yourself, I really thought about what Landon said. What I saw as a mess-something to be ashamed of, he saw as a playground-surrounded by classic cars and guy toys. What I wanted to hide, because it looked messy and unorganized, he wanted to promote.

Then I thought about my blog. I realized that the true skinny is that I am the mother of 7 busy kids and a military officer's wife-that alone is enough to fill anyone's plate. If that is all I did I might be able to keep things organized and clean, be on time for practices and dentist appointments and do baths and bedtime a night with without raising my voice, but then throw in antiques dealer, freelance writer and home renovator. How do I do it all you often ask, and make things look so good, and raise great athletes and be so creative? The fact is-the true skinny is-that when one thing looks great, there are often many other things that are compromised, and doing it all flawlessly is impossible. When I post pictures of a beautiful dresser that I refinished in a day, what I am not telling you is that the kids had to hunt for clean socks out of a pile a mile high because I didn't fold any laundry. Just because I don't post pictures of my dirty dishes, publish threats from my kids that they are going to live with Grandma and Grandpa, or detail the accounts of someone sneaking beers at a family party, doesn't mean they don't happen.

Now, I am not quite ready to post a picture of my bikini clad body before the big spring diet or the condition of my master bedroom (you know, the one that I almost killed myself in this morning trying to find my slippers), but I will try to dispel the belief that I am superwoman by posting some of the pictures and stories that I would have otherwise censored before this morning's revelation while sitting in my driveway. I just hope that all of my friends out there, whether physical or cyber, will have the same respect for me knowing I live in a hobo camp. At least it's a happy hobo camp.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Modern Wing Back Chair: Love it or hate it?

Cal's new physical therapy office (for rehabbing his shoulder) sits just in the middle of my three favorite thrift stores. Not that I ever needed an excuse to shop for a great deal, but now, every Tuesday and Thursday I am guaranteed an hour to hit all three stores before closing time. Last week I found the most awesome-unusual, modern, cool, ugly?-wing back chair that I just had to have. When I say "I had to have it," I don't necessarily mean that I have to have it and keep it. I mean that I have to acquire something based on a combination of its coolness, low price and the fact that it doesn't belong in a thrift store. Later I decide where it really belongs, which might be my house, my antique booth, or in someone else's house for a slightly higher price than I paid for it. I never mark things up too high because my grandfather always says, "You have to leave room for the next guy to make a profit."

Chair side view. Piped in a dark cranberry suede cloth.

This is a handmade modern wing back chair by Vanguard Furniture. This particular chair is from their Bungalow Collection. It has a tall back (50.5" tall X 30" wide X 30" deep). It is super comfy and has a down-filled throw pillow with a removable cover. It appears to never have been sat in. It appears to be brand new.

The original tag. See what somebody paid to have this chair made?
$1,279.00!




Here is my dilemma. I saw this chair in one of the many decorating and home improvement magazines I read monthly I would think "wow, that chair is awesome!" But, as neat as it is, and as expensive as it was, it is really not my style. Although it matches our green walls and fall decor, both are temporary. We are planning on painting the walls dark tan. When fall is over, and all the pumpkins and leaf garland is put away, there really isn't any orange in my house. The light colored laminate flooring is being replaced with dark wood. That being said, this chair looks pretty nice in the corner of my dining room. Is it just too designer-ish for me? Cool in a magazine but not in my house? What do you think?




Update****March 13, 2013****

I decided to sell the chair in my shop about a week after this post. As much as I loved the chair, it wasn't right for my house or my color scheme. It lasted for a day until a sweet young couple put it on lay-a-way. Purchase price $450. What a deal!