Life on the creative side

Archive for October, 2011

Little Table Makeover With Mosaic

My sister-in-law is moving into her new home and fortunately for me she is using the opportunity to thin out or replace some of her things.  This little table is one of the items that did not make the cut to move on to the new place, so it found itself in my studio waiting for a makeover.

Umm, what to do?

Simple, sweet lines…

not in love with the glass top, seems a little dated…

oh what to do with you, little table?



Of course!

lilly pad mosaic table

small mosaic top table

Thanks Carol.

I’ve joined the party over at



fireball at full moon party in the bvi

The other day I ran into an old acquaintance, the mother of one of my daughter’s high school friends. During those wonderful, crazy days of my children’s childhoods she and I crossed paths often. So, you would think, I could greet her by name; except for the fact that my stubborn mind refused to give up that information. Fortunately I soon recognized the same look on her face as she pleaded with her own locked brain to release my name. So what started out as an embarrassing situation turned into a shared “senior moment” that we both laughed off before sending greetings to each other’s daughters, whose names we did remember, and going our separate ways.

Besides senior moments there are blonde  moments –

we’re often encouraged to “live in the moment”-

Given the opportunity to “take a moment”-

Or experience our own personal moment.

Life is a collection of moments and very often defined by them; good, bad, happy, sad, peaceful, scary, embarrassing, magical, exhilarating moments.

 I have a friend who likes to pause whatever is going on around her to recognize, share and toast meaningful moments-

A group of friends in the middle of raucous laughter will see her raised arm in salute to the joyful times shared by good friends, she’s “having a moment” and all salute in solidarity.

Family and friends gathered  around a table, pause the conversation and meal because she has raised her glass to toast the scene and everyone reaches their glasses towards each others.

In the quiet at the end of an exhilarating day she’ll smile turning to make eye contact with those around her and then lift her arm in a quiet salute, holding it there until all have joined her.

I have decided to adopted my friend’s act of saluting special moments, it solidifies not only the special times in life but the relationships with which they’re shared; helping to store both in my heart and mind where they can be pulled out of my memory whenever I need a smile; except, of course, during senior moments.



Life’s moments are precious – salute them all.



Sun, Waves, Yoga and New Friends

When I met Shata a few months ago it was as if unseen powers were conspiring to bring the two of us together.  I was searching for a path to heal my injured shoulder and back; she was looking for a place to host a yoga retreat.  Her amazing Thai Yoga sessions have already brought relief to my back and have begun to restore the range of motion in my shoulder.  And this weekend the beach house provided her a perfect place to host a goddess yoga retreat.

Lisa and I, along with our friend Karen, joined Shata and three of her students at the beach for a weekend of yoga, raw food and female bonding.  The diverse group of women formed an immediate bond and generated a positive energy that enveloped us throughout the weekend.

 Shata generously gave of herself, leading us through meditation, yoga and conversation.  Lisa and Karen shared their knowledge of raw food and helped prepare delicious healthy meals.  Marigrace gave us insight into the healing art of acupuncture. Hong brought her quiet but powerful energy and shared stories of her childhood in China.  At the end of our retreat, Jean, adventuresome and athletic, led our small band of middle-aged women, laughing, jumping and freezing into the waves. With our minds free of daily necessities, our spirits opened by meditation and our bodies energized by the yoga and the clear cold water, we danced about and rode the waves, laughing and giggling, like a bunch of young, carefree girls.

Namaste :)

More Fun With Repurposing


More treasures for our upcoming sale.  Now along with the chair we re-upholstered in a soft plaid flannel, the room divider we created from an old picture screen and yellow chenille remnant,  a redesigned lamp and shade and  a re-finished end table embellished with a gold leaf starfish; we now have a set of shelves an old painting and an oak table ready for our booth.


I’m particularly pleased with the set of shelves that began life as slated multi colored cubes in a modern design.  But after some paint and creative use of old wallpaper, they have been reborn into a unique set of shelves that exude   vintage charm within its modern lines. 

 ← Before

                                                                                               After ↓


I painted this painting thirty years ago on a canvas board.  Over the years the canvas began to separate from the board so I went ahead and peeled it completely off. Then after serendipitously laying it on an old beat up table with pealing paint, I fell in love with the look and had the idea of mounting the old canvas on weathered paneling.  So my dear “doer” hubby put together a board constructed of tongue and grove boards and mounted them on a piece of thin plywood.  After scuffing and beating charater and age onto the surface, I painted, crackled and sanded them into a beautifully distressed condition.  Finally, using upholstery tacks, I mounted the canvas to the panels.


 This old oak table had sat in my dad’s barn for more years than I can remember.  The veneer had long ago peeled away and the base, held together by wire twisted around the pedestal by some long ago owner, was coming loose from both the table top and the legs; it was in rough shape.  First we reinforced the weakened structure then coated it with soft oatmeal white paint.  Then we glued a colorful remnant of outdoor fabric to the top, trimmed the edge with some antique rick rack and coated the whole thing with several layers of polymer.











Beautiful Belize!

patojo's dive shop belize

maya temple, belize

For the past five days we’ve dined on fry jacks in cafes with sand floors, climbed ancient temples, swam through coral kathy sail and snorkel belize 2011canyons and huddled, with six of our dearest friends, under a patojo's dive shop belizebright red tarp in a boat speeding through the rain and tight, twisting, mangrove channels, lined with monkeys, exotic plants and birds.


We just returned from a wonderful, albeit wet, weekend on Ambergris Cay; a small island in the Caribbean off the coast of Belize. It claims the second longest barrier reef in the world, which also gives it boasting rights for  world-class diving. Off the beach there are beautiful rivers, Maya ruins and quaint villages filled with skilled craftsmen to explore.

My hubby and I were traveling with a group of friends on our annual couple’s trip. The group has been traveling together every year for ten years. The trips are about being together with good friends and loving partners.  To remind us that we are more than mothers and fathers, more than engineers, accountants, veterinarians, admins, teachers or artists; we ladies put on our sexiest clothes and attitudes (sorry kids) and our men fuss over how lovely we are and we spend a long weekend being couples.

    ↓    justine   mark   ↓ wild river ride in belize 2011justine mary and kathy belize 2011

 jewlery artisan belize 2011

belize 2011

belize carving

Belize carving


belize jewlery


carved bowl and spoons from belize

Carved bowl fork and spoon from Belize

Refurbishing with Paint, Stitching and Silver-Leaf; A Lovely Little Table to Treasure,

I grabbed this little wobbly table right out of my dad’s hands as he reared back to toss it into the dumpster, now you know something is in sad shape if  it’s not worth the space it takes up in a barn full of junk! Anyway that was a few years back and since then it has lived by mytt's barn bed, on the porch and finally in an out building.  But with Lisa and me looking for items for the booth we plan to set up in January, I pulled it out and took a fresh look at its possibilities.

The black paint concealed the colors but not the ragged texture of the multiple layers of paint globbed on beneath. The legs were loose, very loose; one had actually broken through the table top which had also shortened one side considerably. It was in sad shape, but there was just something sweet about its form. So after my hubby stabilized the top and legs, the best that could be done, I started to work painting. I decided to use a dry brush technique that embraced its primitive nature; and I chose a beautiful blue that puts me in mind of the sea.

Lisa had been looking for a project to try a technique she had seen somewhere that involves stitching on wood.  With that in mind we developed a plan to transform the little ugly table into a beautiful home accessory.

Using a new piece of plywood cut to fit the top of the table, we painted on layers of paint that we then distressed and crackled.  We stitched on a border using a beautiful multi colored yarn and applied a single starfish using gold leaf.

This is what we ended up with…

a lovely little table to treasure.

How to stitch on wood:

We drilled holes about 1 1/2 inches from the edge of the wood using a 3/16 inch bit.  The needle was a six-inch piece of thin, flexible wire folded in half and, using pliers, pinched at the fold to make it small enough to fit through the drilled holes. Sliding an end of the yarn onto the makeshift needle and starting on the underneath side, I pulled the yarn up through a hole and down through the next hole, creating a running stitch; tying off the ends on the underneath side.  To compensate for the bulk of the yarn on the bottom of the stitched piece, we glued very thin strips of plywood along the underneath edge and a couple of strips along the center. Finally, we applied glue along the strips we had added and attached the completed piece to the table top; clamping in place until set.




Having Fun With Creative Repurposing

chenille room divider

Lisa and I are happily busy these days collaborating on a new exciting project.  As I don’t have the resources to open a real brick and mortar shop, which is my dream, Lisa has agreed to join me in setting up a booth at a local antique/craft fair in January. Our husbands think it’s an excuse, as if we need one, to collect more junk.  But really part of the motivation is to thin out some of our junk, like having a big fancy yard sale; OK, maybe some shopping will be involved. 


However, after taking a look around our homes, we were reminded how much we struggle to with part with our precious junk/treasures. So far the things we are willing to let go all need drastic styling and repurposing to make them worthy of our stylish display.


Of course, and this will not surprise anyone, I took a trip through my dad’s barn;  as always, I was not disappointed.  I found several things that will fit the modern, airy, causal cottage vibe we’re channeling. Again much of the items will need some work to fit our style vision, but with a little elbow grease,  paint and fabric and a lot of creativity the random pieces will meld into a cohesive, beautiful collection.


Some before /after and in the process.










Here’s a sneak peek at how the look of our booth is taking shape…