My ‘new’ rustic (old?) dining table …

I’m fickle when it comes to furniture–change it like many people change their underwear. The current table is the 4th to grace our dining room in the past 6 months.

Most people don’t use their dining tables. But we aren’t most people. We ALWAYS gather around our table. Often with friends and family. For long dinners, with our laptops, for homework and often just to talk. Drives us all crazy when there is no table in the dining room.

I sold one in May and we’ve been without a table for a few weeks. But I got a ‘new’ table last weekend. Or a ‘new’ OLD table.

I spotted it months ago. LOVED it. But it was pushing $100. Which doesn’t fit into my furniture budget.

Furniture budget: $0.

Sometimes I go big and spend $2-5 on furniture. Less often, I go really, really big and spent $15-25. But only when I see an opportunity to quickly resell at a large profit. (Turns out I have talent for that.)

Back to my table…

Had my eye on it for six months. At my favorite vintage furniture store that is more like a giant indoor flea market. Watched it get marked down a couple of times.When it was clearanced on top of being marked down a few times, I grabbed it.

It has a unique planked, rustic look. Meaning it is already scratched, dented and all banged up. Because it was handmade 60+ years ago, the boards are irregular and uneven. Perfect. It fits right in at my house.

I don’t think of it as being ‘old.’ More that it has character. And no worries about damaging this old table. (Not that we ever worry about that…)

Once home, I stripped and re-finished the top. As best I could anyway, with all the grooves and bumpy wood. Then I repainted the table legs and two of my white chairs black.

Since I was short two chairs, I went next door to Chapman’s Boutique to see what she had ‘in stock’ in her garage. (or her shed, basement…) Chapman is my neighbor, who has an eye for vintage treasures, as well. Not much she doesn’t bring home.

Of course, she had a couple of chairs. And she said to go ahead and take them. So I did. Then painted them black.

Son: We have FOUR matching chairs???

Me: Not matching, exactly. But almost. And similar styles.

That’s BIG for us.


Nothing I like less than a SET of perfectly matched furniture. Boring. Lacking creativity and style. No fun. And completely impractical. What happens when one of the matched chairs gets broken? And they do when the large, 6’2″ teenage boys start wrestling around, or drop down (hard) into a chair.

Darling Daughter is away for the week, but she will be thrilled to return home to a table.

Except that I only recovered one of the chairs–was trying to decide whether I liked the barn red floral fabric–or a green plaid from Chapman’s Boutique. (Who needs JoAnn Fabrics with a neighbor like Chapman?)

Still need to recover three chairs. MIght be getting a little lazy in my old age? But I’m sure I’ll get to it today. Unless I go out to dinner? Or something? It is Friday night…

Sometimes I BUY things from Chapman’s Boutique. But we use ‘BUY’ loosely. It could mean I use something until I get tired of it. Or until she has use for it. Or she chooses something from my house. Or I sell some of her ‘inventory’ and we call what she gave me the ‘commission.’ Many ways it can go when I shop her Boutique…

And they all fit into my furniture budget. ($0)

I am keeping the table. For now.

Or until somebody wanders into my house and offers to buy it. (Happens more and more often.) Or I run across another table that I love. Like I said, I am fickle when it comes to furniture. Good thing I don’t fall in love with men as easily as I fall in love with furniture…


My New Job (I have one now!)

Just got a new job.  And it could be my dream job…

I grew up in Euclid, a suburb of Cleveland Ohio. A modest city, but we were too busy playing outside to notice our lack of worldly goods.

We played Red Rover—and nobody cried, either.

And Kick the Can. (Which had several names and variations…) In the winter, we went outside just like when it was 80 degrees and sunny. No such thing as too cold or bad weather.

We didn’t have property, we had a yards.

Nor did we have landscaping. Just some greenery around the yard that we called bushes, or shrubs. Simple, generic terms. And the trees? Out there to be climbed.

As for mulch, my first experience shoveling it was as a first time homeowner (and adult) in a Mentor subdivision. After we put in some new beds

Not beds that you sleep in. Beds as in landscaping.

The only ‘beds’ we had in Euclid, were in our bedrooms. And about the only time we were inside was to sleep in them.

The lots (or yards…) on our street were about 50 feet wide, with just enough room to run a driveway between houses. And I’m not kidding. Our ‘yard’ was .19 acre.

Which is why we needed to play in ALL the yards. Thankfully, nobody minded…

So I grew up in the city. And now I live in Perry, Ohio. Which isn’t really country, as it is fairly close to several cities. But it is bordering on rural.

My new job?

McGroarty Enterprises.

What do they do there? For starters, there is a nursery.

As in plants, not babies. They also teach others throughout the United States–even as far as Australia–how to grow plants. There is an office in the small house that sits on the nursery property. That is where I’ll be working.

Probably a good place for me.  Really, what do I know about plants?

Not much.

When we moved to Perry, we built a new center hall colonial. I had no idea at the time, but they leveled the old nursery to make way for our subdivision to roll through.

What I did learn while living on that property?

How to STEAL old nursery stock.

Just beyond our property, there were a few pockets of mangled up plants all mixed in with briar and weeds. Nothing had been pruned in years. Finding these plants and trees in the brush wasn’t easy. The couple of times I went back there, I was a bloody, muddy, scraped up mess afterwards.

Me: C’mon Daughter, we’re going shopping.

Darling Daughter: Huh?

Me: Like grab that shovel over there and I’ll get the wheelbarrow…

Darling Daughter: Why?

Me:  I told you. We’re going shopping.

Darling Daughter: For what?

Me: I need a tree. You can help me find one.

And so we did. We dragged home a large stick, the size of a broomstick. Maybe 5 feet long, the top was thinner than a pencil. And we quickly planted it.

Took my then husband several days to notice my ‘stick tree’ in the new bed, bordering our deck. He was probably too focused on the 20’ x 40’ deck we just finished building, or the pool.

When he found out what we had done, he had a fit! Then kept telling me it was going to die. Of course, this is the man who gifted me several flats of ‘full sun’ flowers—then instructed me to plant them in the shade. They were dead within the month. All of them.

Anyways, I think I am safe to relay this story now. It has been about 7 years and I only ever dug up that one tree. What would I be charged with?

Grand Theft ‘stick tree.’

I stopped today to take a photo of that tree—the leaves aren’t on it yet. But the trunk is at least 10” in diameter and the tree must be 30 feet tall. It is enormous. It was pretty when we moved, but it is quite a gorgeous tree now.

My daughter and I chose that particular tree because the stick/trunk was white(ish) in color. Instead of yucky dark brown.  We thought the white was much prettier.

We had no idea what the tree was. Turns out, it was actually a really nice tree.

And like I told my then husband, we needn’t feel bad. (or criminal) I SAVED a tree that was destined to  become a basement…

There were already plans to extend the subdivision; the new roads were even in by then.

So, how am I qualified to work in a nursery?

Given the above example, I obviously have a green thumb.

I love the outdoors. Love plants.  Have always kept my landscaping weeded, mulched, trimmed, pruned and looking pretty in all the houses I have lived in as an adult. In fact, I find weeding relaxing.

So, I’m interested in plants. Which is a start.

And my job is primarily in the office. Answering customer emails, editing photos for the websites, researching and writing articles on plants and keeping an eye on the message boards and such.

Likely, it won’t be long before I’m out there crawling around in the dirt taking photos of the new Japanese maples that are getting planted soon.

Back in Euclid, we often made Mud Pies in the summer.  Meaning we SAT and played in the mud.  When we got in the bathtub at night, the water was brown. When my own children were little, I always thought it was a good day when my kids’ bathwater was brown. Dirty kids = great fun, right?

Maybe the same can be said for adults?

Given the chance, I’ll be in the dirt learning to plant and tag the new stock…

The more I learn, the better off I’ll be with the office side of the operation anyway.

This job might be many people’s personal hell. But I’m thinking it might be quite the opposite for me. Right up my alley…

I get to write AND I get to go outside.

Does it get any better?


My yard is beginning to look like a pasture…

Our riding lawnmower was perpetually temperamental—so I got rid of it. Which was probably a stupid move, but there was no way I could keep it running for the long haul.

The kids and I spent last summer using my 1999 Honda to jump the riding lawnmower. With 12 years and over 200,000 miles on our trusty Honda, I had to wonder at the wisdom of using one hunk of junk to make another hunk of junk start??

If nobody was home to sit on the mower, I had to put a heavy rock on the seat to keep it running, while I scrambled to turn the car off and remove the jumper cables. We often had to squirt ‘goo’ into one of the mowers tires to keep a puncture sealed. Before each mowing, somebody had to put air in that tire. Then there was the issue with the mechanism to engage the blade. It kept getting stuck. Thankfully, none of us lost a finger…

The simple 30 minute task of mowing a half-acre lot required a pit crew—like in a NASCAR race. Minus the fancy tools and shiny vehicles, in our case. Sooner or later, I was going to need a permanent solution.

Thankfully, my neighbor said we could use her push mower for a little while. Except her push mower conked out last week. She carted it off to the repairman and it has been there for a week.

In the meantime, our lawn continues to grow…and we have certainly had enough rain to keep it thriving!

Our friendly, local repairman planned to have the mower fixed and ready to be picked up yesterday. But he went fishing instead of finishing the job. Who could blame him? It was a beautiful day.

Dogs Best Friend? This dog seems to like his baby goat…they look chummy.

By the time the mower returns, I am going to need to mow the lawn in one-inch sections. It will soon look more like a meadow, than a residential lawn.  Which is why I need a goat. A goat would enjoy living at my house…with my two dogs, the bunnies and other critters. He would feel right at home.

Goats and dogs do get along, right? They can exist in a harmonious state?

Or I could simply let the grass grow all summer and bale it towards fall. If the repairman keeps going fishing, mowing the lawn will be impossible.

Which wouldn’t be terrible. I had thought about finding an old-fashioned mower last summer—dreamed about it, even—because there can’t be much ‘under the hood’ with those old things. The ones that resemble a spreader, but with a spinning blade? I believe they are called ‘reel’ mowers. Surely, even I could keep such a simple machine working.

The bonus? They are environmentally friendly and do not need gas. Could be the Perfect “budget friendly” solution. It certainly bears consideration.

Hmmm…I’m thinking about it. I REALLY am!

Today, I plan to ignore the overgrowth. To look forward to the colorful butterflies heading our way. Because there are always lots of pretty butterflies flitting about in meadows, floating in the breeze.

It’s either that, or go fishing.