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Vanity (Chair) Found

So. I bought another chair last week. I know, I know. But much like the rocking chair (which I’m still completely in love with, by the

The new vanity chair.

way), this was a very special case, and I got a really good deal on it. Considering chairs like this in good shape sell for hundreds of dollars, and I got mine for $28, I’m pretty happy with the purchase.

It’s not just an ordinary chair though – it’s a vanity chair, or vanity stool, if you will. For those not in the know, a vanity set or dressing table is a table with a mirror and a small chair, bench or stool where one sits to put on makeup and jewelry and do hair, etc.

I suppose a lot of women probably do those things in the bathroom these days, but I share a bathroom with my husband, and he’s generally showering when I’m doing my makeup, so my vanity set gets daily use. With my poor eyesight and the need to have my glasses off when putting moisturizer and makeup on, it’s easier not to have to lean over the bathroom counter to get closer to the mirror anyways (and the bright bathroom lights are counter-productive with my sensitive eyes) – so I use the dressing table even when the bathroom is free, and even when I’m just putting on moisturizer without makeup or whatever. I keep my deodorant there too, and if I wore perfume, it would be there as well.

Excuse the mess, please…I do use this every day!

The vanity set I have now was a hand-off from my sister, who decided she didn’t want it anymore years and years ago. I’m not overly fond of it (aside from it’s very handy functionality) – I tend to prefer darker woods to light, and more of an antique look than the modern. But, this was free, they aren’t generally cheap, and I’m not terribly picky when it comes to functional stuff. This one also fits nicely in the small space I have available for it.

But I’ve always wanted a nice, dark wood vanity with a huge mirror and several drawers on each side. Someday, I’ll come across just the perfect one at a reasonable price, and I can almost guarantee that even if by some miracle the mirror is still intact, the one thing it won’t have is…a chair/stool. It’s pretty rare that I see an antique vanity with a chair or stool – most have been lost to time along the way. And vanity chairs are…well, considered a “luxury”, and they’re priced accordingly.

So when I saw the red chair sitting on the sidewalk in front of the thrift shop just around the corner from my favorite pizza place last week (yes, I was getting pizza – it was a Thursday), I went right in and asked how much. The condition of the upholstery isn’t great, so I went home and thought about it. The frayed out fabric spoke to me, gave me a semi-creepy plot point that may or may not turn into…something, eventually.

I went back to the thrift shop on my lunch break and bought it.

I’ll probably need to make or get a cover for it at some point – either that, or have it re-upholstered. But for now, I’m going to enjoy it as it is, maybe as a seat to go in front of my sewing machine (should I ever get that put back together), or even a fancy footstool for the bookshelves in my office.

Someday though, hopefully it will fulfill its destiny as a vanity chair again, in front of a gorgeous dark dressing table with a huge mirror and generous drawers. Time will tell, I suppose. A friend and I are going to a flea market at an antique mall this coming Saturday…

Progress, Set-Backs, & Movies

Vacation is over, and it’s back to the office today. Last week was phenomenal as far as vacations go. I relaxed, but I also got a lot of stuff done (that in and of itself was relaxing to me – because it was all stuff I wanted to work on). I wrote nearly every day (only missed one), I got a draft edited up and ready to send to the formatters, I picked out some potential cover art images for that story, and printed out another story for a last read-through/edit before getting that ready to publish.

I also started the clean-up/restoration project for my antique sewing machine, which is still in progress, but it’s been a fun learning experience. I’m working on polishing the metal at the moment, which is proving more difficult than I thought it would be. One-hundred plus years of grime and etching aren’t all that easy to get off, and I started thinking I needed to make everything shine again before I put it back together, and then realized that really…I don’t. The marred spots and matte chrome are part of this machine’s particular story, and while the rust really did have to be removed to save the metal, the rest of it really is just fine like it is. It’s an antique. It shouldn’t look new. It should look well used and loved, and mine definitely does. I’ll replace the belt (already have a replacement ready to go on) and needle, but otherwise, everything else will be original, stained and faded though it might be.

I’m kind of bummed that I didn’t get it all put back together this past weekend, but I still don’t have a new needle, thread, or any fabric at all, so it’s not like I could use it anyways. Next weekend, I’m going shopping. And I’ll put everything back together and finally get to try it out.

I still didn’t get six hours of sleep this past Saturday night – gel polish is no joke to remove! Unfortunately, the steamer appliance I bought really isn’t working well at all for this, and I don’t know if it’s the polish I’m using, or the steamer or what, but I think soaking the polish off in a more traditional manor might solve my problem. I’ll try again next weekend.

The UV-cured gel polish itself is awesome, and it’s so great to be able to just pick up and go straight to bed after the last cure time with completely dry nails. I hope I can find a way to make the polish removal quicker though, or it’s kind of pointless for getting to bed earlier.

While the nail polish steamer hasn’t worked all that well for me, I got another steamer that is just *excellent*. I found one of those tiny little egg cooker/steamers on sale on Amazon the other week, and it is just the handiest little kitchen appliance ever! Poke a hole in the eggs, put them on the tray, add water measured by the included cup, put the lid on and press the button. I’ve made soft and hard boiled eggs so far, and both are incredibly easy. No pan to clean up, no paying attention to when the water starts boiling and setting a timer, no real clean-up necessary. It’s wonderful, and I love it. It took very little effort to get ten hard-boiled eggs all cooked, peeled and ready for breakfasts this week.

The hubby took me to dinner and a movie for my birthday – we went to see the new Jumangi, and I tell you what…it was *hilarious*! It looks kind of cheesy from the trailers, but we laughed all the way through. So funny. Well worth the watch, IMO.

Then yesterday I got sucked into watching Sunset Boulevard on PBS, and it was mesmerizing on several levels. If you haven’t seen it and you get a chance to, it will especially appeal to us writerly and creative types. Worth the time, even though it did put me behind on housework for the rest of the day.

I had a great vacation, and I feel rested and ready to get back into the normal workday routine. There are a few things I need to work on, time-wise, but I think I can do better going forward. It was a good, much-needed break.

Oh…and if you ever consider reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Doomed…well…it’s weird. Interesting in an odd way and amusing, but weird. Just sayin’.

Ruminations on Priorities & Sewing

I’ve been re-examining my priorities lately…for about the 70-billionth time. I generally do that when I really want to do something I’m not currently doing, and have no time to “work it in”. But I live in hope that some day, I’ll list out all the stuff I want to do and magically have time to do every last bit of it. Preferably with a reasonable amount of proficiency.

Gotta love a good fantasy, eh?

I also tend to reevaluate when I want to make sure that the things I’m making a priority really are important enough to keep the spot they currently hold. Writing is actually one of those things I’m constantly questioning. I haven’t published anything in two years (or more), I’m never quite sure if what I’m writing is something I want to publish, and I often wonder if I really should be spending so much time and money on something that isn’t really doing much for me in return.

Aside from…you know…providing a creative outlet that keeps me from going all nutty and such.

In any case, bringing home another antique typewriter last weekend was just a plain enjoyable event, because I have no real intention of actually using it. I just love to have old typewriters around, and have that little nostalgic piece of history to look and marvel at. I find them inspiring.

But buying the antique sewing machine sent me into another mental frenzy of “how am I going to fit restoring and using this lovely piece of equipment into my already packed schedule?” If it were already in good shape and all I had to do was use it or not, that would be one thing…I can accept it as an antique piece to enjoy and maybe use “sometimes”. But I can’t just leave it in the condition it’s in. It really needs to be shined up and oiled and brought back to something lovely. I *want* to do that.

And of course having a sewing machine in the house that actually works (albeit needs some work, but it does work currently) makes me want to do some craft projects that require a sewing machine. I’ve had a couple of sewing machines in the past, but always cheap, portable, electric models that required me to clean off space to work, near a plug-in, and put up with noise, and try to keep up with the machine as it outpaces my brain by a mile…needless to say, I gave both of them away. This one…this one is virtually silent. The speed is more easily controllable. It has its own table (that looks really nice as a piece of furniture), and needs no electricity. Unlike those other machines…this is a machine I actually *want* to use.

Of course I can’t really even start restoring it (aside from washing the casing) until I order a few inexpensive parts and some oil. I’ll do that tonight (today is payday – yay!). So next weekend, I’ll have what I need to work on it…but it will also be one of the busiest weekends of the year for us, with two Halloween events and then my husband flying out for a work trip and me trying to finish up props for the yard and candy bags for the kids.

Ah, Halloween. Our favorite holiday, and my poor husband will be stuck at a conference and on a plane for much of the actual day/evening. Which is just all sorts of wrong, really. But, we’ll look forward to next year.

Anyways…I will make time for the sewing machine restoration, even if just in bits and pieces. And eventually, I’ll figure out how to make time for the small sewing projects I have in mind. It seems like something important enough to make time for…because of the impact it will have not just on my life, but on the lives of my family when I make things for them.

And I’ll continue to make time for reading and writing, because it’s good for me mentally. And crocheting/knitting, because it’s good for me to get away from the screen and do something with my hands. Weaving will also make its way into the rotation.

My stamp collection is just going to sit for awhile…I just don’t have time to put any kind of meaningful work into it. The jigsaw puzzle on the table is probably going back in the box un-solved. Social media…well, that’s just going to have to be minimalistic too. Because in the evenings after I eat and walk the dogs and before I sit down to write, I need some time to just chill…away from all screens except the TV. That’s my crochet/knitting time, and it’s time when I don’t have to be social, chatting, talking, using my brain and straining my eyes. I’ve been slipping back into that more lately, setting the yarn aside for my laptop, and while I stay more connected to people that way, I lose the time I need to just wind down and be inside my own head for awhile. And that’s an important thing to protect.

Priorities are important. And knowing when to put things aside is important too. I think I’m starting to get better at identifying what I need to make a priority at this point in my life, and what can wait until later. Which is a very good, freeing thing.

Old Stuff, Basketballs & Book-Moving Report

Last week was kind of crazy, and this past weekend even moreso. My tattoo touch-up on Thursday initiated a thrift store stop that I normally wouldn’t have made and a dog-walk at a non-normal time, both of which ended up with odd outcomes. Funny how small decisions can make such a big impact, isn’t it?

At the thrift shop, I bought some clothes to rough-up for the skeleton bride in our 13th Anniversary Halloween display (which is why I stopped in, so mission accomplished). I also bought a few pieces of clothing for myself, and then looked around the shop as one does. One thing I saw was an older sewing machine – like, much older. I was curious at the time, but I don’t sew, and couldn’t really get to the cabinet for a good view, and figured I didn’t have room for something like that anyway. So I left.

Later that afternoon, I took the dogs for an early walk (since I was home early), and we walked by a couple sitting out on the curb enjoying the fall day. They had a leather basketball with them (one belonging to one of their kids, playing nearby), and Murphy decided to start playing with it. I warned them that he’d ruin it, but they kept rolling it back to him, because they found his antics most entertaining. They couldn’t believe it when he punctured the outside leather and was able to pick it up and carry it…

We chatted for a bit, and since the ball was all slobbery by that time, they told me he should just take it home. I really didn’t have a good way to carry it, but Murphy would not leave it at that point, so I tucked it under my recently tattooed arm, and prayed we didn’t run into any loose dogs on the way back, since I couldn’t easily control both leashes with one hand (we didn’t, thank goodness).

So, Murphy got himself a basketball simply by amusing a couple while we were out walking. Silly dog.

That night, I thought about that sewing machine I’d seen earlier. I have sort of a “thing” with manual machinery…I am fascinated by it. I love that it requires no electricity to work, and that ultimately, one can figure out how it works and repair it to keep running indefinitely given enough time. Understand, I love electricity and how much it enriches our lives, but there’s just something about a hand/foot driven machine that is incredibly cool and inspiring to me.

In any case, while searching images for a machine like the one I’d seen in the thrift shop, I fell down the internet rabbit hole of vintage sewing machines – treadle machines, to be specific. And while I couldn’t remember the one I’d seen having a hand wheel of any sort, I became completely entranced with the history of sewing machines and treadle machine restoration and use. I read and watched videos and learned everything I could in a small amount of time about them.

I mentioned to my husband the next night that I’d become fascinated with them, and not half an hour later, he showed me an ad on Craigslist for an old treadle sewing machine that someone locally was selling. Taking that as implied approval of the purchase, I emailed the lady to see if it was still available, and then proceeded to look up that particular sewing machine and read everything I could find about it, including a scan of the original instruction manual.

This is probably as good a place as any to mention that while he was looking through the antiques section on Craigslist, he also found and pointed out to me an old LC typewriter that was available for sale. I love antique typewriters, and emailed that guy to see if it was available too.

After that, my husband quit telling me about cool stuff on Craigslist. 🙂

In any case, long story shorter, that treadle sewing machine (a “Free No 5” model) is now in my living room waiting to be restored with some sewing machine oil and elbow grease, and yes, it does work. The typewriter is also in my living room (the counterpart to my old portable Royal typewriter) where I can stare lovingly at it every day (it works too, but the spacebar is cracked/needs replacing, and it could use a new ribbon).

Then there are new bookshelves, too. Saturday morning, I started cleaning off the bookshelves in my office and piled all the books in stacks on my living room floor. All except my antique/vintage books, which went on the dining room table, and my stamp collection, which got piled in my writing chair.

Sunday I took the bookcases out of the office and put them in the driveway, and hubby installed the new bookcases he built in the office. They are big and bold and amazing…I love them so much. They still need trim, which will happen next weekend, and also drawers for the bottom cabinets, which will happen as he has time. But I put most of the books back Sunday night, and just need to move the antiques/vintage volumes back sometime this week. No, I didn’t inventory anything. No time! Will that project ever get done? Maybe, maybe not. Not in the near future, for sure.

So…crazy busy four days or so, but filled with so much groovy-ness that I don’t even mind being way behind on pretty much everything. I’ll catch up next weekend. And then start on the Halloween decorations…