Vintage Vibe Magazine Holder

By now you have figured out I REALLY have a thing for vintage furniture.

And today, I finished another vintage piece, this time a magazine holder. Today I waxed the green on green vintage magazine holder I’ve been slowly working on.

It’s been several years now since I began this piece but it for some reason it got put on the back burner. This piece sat in my studio for a couple of years half-way painted but never finished. No real reason… just a lack of time, energy or motivation I guess.

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The magazine holder, “after.”

I’m thinking of decorating the front with something special, probably using a stencil and gray or black paint but I’m not sure exactly what stencil yet.

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Not this exact stencil but something simple and similar in feeling to this. 

When I found myself missing the painting gig this winter, I began to make time to work on a few unfinished projects still in my studio. And once again green chalk paint has really become my thing.

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I forgot to take a “before” photo of the magazine rack but this one is similar.

When I bought this piece it was painted a shiny red and black and quite frankly, it was ugly! But I’ve painted enough ugly pieces over the year that I knew that with some paint and TLC it could be made pretty again. Although my paint stash is running low and my choice of chalk color paint is quite limited, I did have enough Michigan Pine green left to complete this project.

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Another magazine holder from a similar era found on Pinterest. 

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Light green and dark green paint make a subtle but pretty contrast.

It took multiple coats of green chalk paint to cover up that bright red glossy paint, but it worked. I really adore the dark green with light green accents and the contrast this had made. It is really a pretty combination in my opinion. I especially I LOVE the turned legs on this piece that reminds me of the spindles on the Jenny Lind bed I bought for my son’s when they were babies.

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Another view of the contrast between the greens.

This piece also sent also me on a hunt for similar magazine holders on Pinterest and I found a lot of them; both tall and squat, on legs and with no legs, painted, decopaged and decorated and more. I have saved over 100 versions of the painted magazine rack on my Pinterest board titled, Vintage Magazine Holders. Feel free to visit that!

In fact, I noticed today that I have four different boards, with the title Vintage in it!

Although this piece is technically a magazine holder, I imagine it could can be used to contain numerous other items like maybe holding towels, linens, platters, a laptop and more. What else do you think this magazine holder might hold?

I find there is gracefulness to these older pieces that makes them lovely to look at as well as still functional.

Viva la vintage!!

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

Why we Left the Middle Class

This copied piece came up in my news feed today (see below.) The main theme of the conversation was about why the middle class still matters. This set me to thinking. This also set me to writing this piece. “Why I Choose to Leave the Middle Class” and sharing this with Frontline.

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Our simple country style pool and pool shack.

What’s the state of the American economy? What are the forces shaping it? And where do you see yourself in it?

Last March, FRONTLINE, APM’s Marketplace and PBS NewsHour joined forces to investigate America’s economic reality in a series called How the Deck Is Stacked.

Over the past year, we’ve crisscrossed the country, producing short films, radio reports and written stories that explore how a sense of economic unease has persisted for many people, despite an unemployment rate that’s below five percent and other positive big-picture indicators.

As this year-long reporting effort draws to a close, explore some of the stories we’ve told:
  • For years, interest rates have been down to stimulate economic growth. Now, under President Donald Trump, they may be set for the most dramatic rise we’ve seen in eight years. Here’s why.

Thank you, as always, for watching, reading and listening, and for letting us know what you think.

–  Patrice Taddonio

Assistant Director of Audience Development, FRONTLINE

March 1, 2017

Dear Frontline Editors:

I watched you recent program titled How the Deck is Stacked. I have some thoughts and experiences to share with you.

My husband (age 72) and I (age 67) are retired and the due to my autoimmune illness two of us are living on basically on one retirement. We raised and educated our four children from our first marriages. We were both divorced at mid-life, remarried each other starting over at ages 50 and 45 and like many in our community we are struggling as we age.

The only reason we are surviving is because 15 years ago I predicted that we were going to have to become more self-reliant if we were to survive during our retirement years. We moved from the city (with high taxes and ever-increasing prices) to very rural Allegan County, MI (the largest agricultural county in our state and began to homestead with few sevices and lower property taxes.)

Forr nine of those years my husband made the long drive into the city for his job while I stayed home and renovated our old home, began a small home based business and started our garden. My job was to create a comfortable and healthy new life for us here.

We keep chickens for eggs, raise vegetables, DYI whenever possible and buy our food that we can’t grow directly from the farmer (at wholesale) and our clothes and household items from Goodwill, auctions or a flea market. Here no one cares what we wear, or if our hair is cut and colored in an expensive salon with a $120.00 price tag or by our $12.00 per hair gal in her home-based shop. For us silver is the new black.

Our entertainment is working in our garden, playing with our chickens, walking our dog in the Allegan Forest or picking in-season fruit and freezing it. We read, we birdwatch and we listen to music or NPR on the radio. We have no Smart Phones, no Cable TV, no big screen televisions, no air conditioning, no vacations, no new vehicles and keep our life as simple as we can. We have not been to a movie theater in over 15 years. We still watch DVD on our ancient DVD player. Our one big splurge is our once a week $9.00 yoga class.

Our biggest expense now is trying to pay for our out-of-pocket health care needs and healthy organic food. We paid out over $12,000 alone in out-of-pocket medical costs in 2016 and had to draw out our savings and retirement funds to do that. Maintaining our aging 1950’s home and 5-acre property is a constant challenge too as we age. In spite of these challenges I try everyday to maintain a positive outlook and be grateful for the small things in life.

Our primary values are to live our life now as mindfully as possible, is to make choices that benefit the land, the birds and our health. We believe in sustainability, living simply, protecting the earth, the air, the water and above all people over profits.

We left middle class America by choice. I felt it was our only option to survive.

Donna Allgaier-Lamberti https://smallhousebigskyhomestead.wordpress.com

 

Easy Lamp Revamp

Apparently this is my winter for lamp make-overs!

Last month I painted a stained lampshade to update a pretty blue canning jar lamp and today I chalk painted and waxed two out-of-date 1960’s brass lamp bases. My bedroom lamps are not old enough to qualify for vintage but they are certainly not new either.

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Here is the “before” shiny brass lamp with its old pleated shade. 

The pleated shades are quite dated and because they are a light weight fabric and pleated they collect dust and are a pain to keep vacuumed.

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Both lamps bases before the recent make-over.

I have been looking at new lamps at Home Depot and on the Internet and I fell in love with this wooden artisan-shape lampbase (which I would have painted or more likely washed using my watered down green chalk paint.) But when I realized each lamp cost $125.00 plus shipping and that I needed two of them I knew new lamps were not going to be in my current budget.

And besides I don’t want my lamps to look too matchy-matchy, right?

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A Kathy Ireland designed lamp with the look of a hand-turned base. So pretty.

So instead I bought two new lampshades at Home Depot at $19.95 each and painted the lampbases I already had. I would have preferred a drum-shaped style shade but the size I needed did not come in that shape. I also needed a shade large enough and deep enough to cover up the brass screw in the lightbulb part so this was the only shade that actually fit my older style lamps.

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A close up of the shiny brass look that was popular in the 70’s & 80’s.

My choice of shades colors was a bit limited but these marbled tan shades will do the trick and will certainly freshen up our bookshelf headboard and provide some nice contrast of the dark green paint against our medium green painted wall.

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Left lamp based painted right hand side base painted and waxed.

I crawl into bed early every night to read and wind down so these lamps get quite a workout in my home.

  • MY STEP BY STEP:
  • I started off by washing the bases well to remove any dust or gunk that might have settled there over the past few decades.
  • Then I brushed on the Ce Ce Caldwell’s Michigan Pine chalk paint just covering them with one coat because I wanted some small bits of brass to show through for contrast.
  • Then I waxed each base using Ce Ce Caldwell’s Aging Wax using a rag to apply the wax because my waxing brush was too stiff to get the wax into the cracks and crevices. See more information here; http://www.cececaldwells.com

I was torn between waxing and not waxing because I like them both ways so I  sat with them a few days until I made up my mind.

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The painted lamps bases in process in my kitchen.

Finally I waxed them both and this Ce Ce Caldwell’s wax took forever to dry. I’m not at all sure I like that slow-drying trait. It took the wax longer to dry than the chalk paint itself which dries in less than an hour!

I put on the new shades, took a few photographs and put them into place in my bedroom. This project was very easy to do and only took me one day (except for the wax drying which took more than a week) so my “satisfaction rating” is high. LOL!

This is budget-based decorating at its best!

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Do you have any lamp bases or shades you might like to paint?

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

My DYI Chalk Painted Lampshade

I tried a little experiment today.

I had a seriously discolored lampshade on a DYI lamp that I put together a couple of decades ago from an old canning jar and stones. I was visiting a hardware shop in Shipshewana, Indiana and purchased a DYI lamp making kit.

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I photographed this image so that you could see the cord set-up coming out from under the shade. That’s my handmade paper on canvas artwork on the wall behind this vignette.

I found this large quart Ball jar and added the screw on lid, added some pretty black stones I had gathered and I had a small-scale lamp. I was a young bride and I was pretty proud of myself then.

I noticed this past week that the white replacement lampshade was mottled and discolored. I automatically set it aside to go to Lowe’s with the intent of purchasing a new shape. Then it occurred to me, why not try to paint it before I discarded it? I even had the same color chalk paint that I used on the dresser turned family room storage unit that it sits on.

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I have successfully used chalk paint on wood, metal, and a vintage leather top table so why not give it a try? It was incredibly easy to do. I watered the paint down very lightly, used a regular paint brush and painted it on taking care not to load too much paint on the glued edge.

I am really pleased as how the fabric took the paint. Not only does it cover the stains beautifully the finished shade has a lovely velvety look to it.

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A vintage Ball Perfect Mason jar holds Petoskey stones I gathered over the years.

This little trick save me the cost of a new lampshade and even more important it saved me over an hour’s drive to get to the closet home improvement store. It also saved a lampshade from going into the landfill. What a win-win!

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A repurposed and painted gentleman’s chest in maple wood and sea foam green chalk paint adds a bit of pop to the window wall in our family room as well as needed extra storage. This chest which is adjacent to a bathroom is filled with TP and paper towels!

This is one DYI experiment that worked!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Spray Painting the Range Hood

It only took me fifteen years but I finally got our old beige colored stove hood re-painted. I wanted it to be refreshed and black like the rest of my appliances for a number of years now. My goal was improve the look of the vent so it coordinated better with the other appliances and give it a nice refresh.

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The shiny black appliance paint looks almost like I bought it new. 

When we had our roof re-shingled last year I made sure that my stove vent was working properly and that the cooking odors were successful venting from the kitchen out through the roof. It is functioning just fine in every way but definitely needed a little bit more pep in its step.

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The guys work together to get this hung and reattached. 

Now that I am healthy scratch cooking for two special diet protocols I spend a LOT of time in my kitchen prepping and cooking so I like it to feel good to be working in as well as to work correctly.

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This is full view of my country kitchen.

When we moved into the Small House this property was what is called “an estate.” This means that the people who lived here had passed away and left the property to their children. This also meant we were buying this house and outbuildings in an “as is” condition.

This house came with a 1980’s beige colored stove, fridge, dishwasher and a washer and dryer. I AM grateful that this home came with working appliances because that allowed us to save for new ones.

While Gene was still working fulltime at his City of Kalamazoo job, we saved up enough cash in a few years to replace the stove, fridge and dishwasher. After we had achieved that goal that we sold the old ones locally.

I had wanted though about purchasing a new black stove hood but they were quite a bit over my budget and we had so many other repairs that we needed first, like the entire septic system within the first three months of moving here. I’ve even considered stainless steel appliances until I saw their high price tag and that quickly nixed that idea.

So plan B was to get the range hood painted black by taking it to a car paint shop. But I had to disconnect the electrical, take it off, deliver it and then pick it up and that simply never happened. I considered have a wooden cover built or painting the vent hood using chalk paint but with both options I was concerned about keeping them clean. Stoves can be a greasy place for sure.

Then one day I was reading a magazine and discovered a Rust-Oleum Appliance Epoxy spray paint. This paint can be purchased in white and black and is designed originally for those who want to change out an appliance panel.

The light bulb in my head went off. Why not use this paint to refresh my old-style stove vent hood? This paint was only $3.99 a can. On a recent trip to Lowes, I bought three cans just to be sure I had enough.

Since it was winter and cold in Gene’s workshop this was a project I asked our handyman Frank to tackle this project for me. Frank has a heated workshop and was happy to do this for us. He came, dismantled the hood and took it home with him to clean, sand, paint and reassemble.

In a couple of weeks we had it back and reattached. In addition to painting the outside Frank thoroughly cleaned off the metal grills and degreased the entire unit. What a guy!

I’m happy to have my stove vent back so now I can reconnect the smoke alarm. With the vent out of commission I kept sending the smoke alarm into the noisy”danger”zone.

Doesn’t this look nice? The entire project cost me less than $50.00 and was worth every penny. This defintely quilifies as debt-free living!

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

 

 

The Art of Aging Gracefully on the Homestead-Mother Earth News

We are in the current issue of Mother Earth News!

My latest contribution to the current issue of Mother Earth News has hit the news stand. This magazine for those of you who might not know it; is a guide to living wisely while being self-sufficient on the homestead or farm.

The article is titled Aging Gracefully on the Homestead. This is a piece about the challenges of senior homesteading; a topic we know a little something about.

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Although I pitched an ongoing column geared to senior homesteading they opted for a one time “how-to” article. Perhaps they know more about the age of their readership than I do! My contribution was four photographs (out of the eight published) and a part of the text.

Double click on this PDF and I believe that the article will open up. aging-gracefully-1

Homesteading is hard work, and Gene and I are not getting any younger. I doubt anyone will argue with that. There are definitely multiple challenges to continuing to do the physical work required by homesteading as one gets older.

We moved to the Small House Big Sky Homestead fifteen years ago. We started out getting as much done as we could and added additional outdoor projects like the chicken complex and the water containment system each summer. And worked on the house during the winter months. This was a good thing we got a lot done in those early years since even then we weren’t spring chickens. (We were 50 and 55 years old.)

Eventually we got the major items on our to-do list knocked down. Every year we try to accomplish a project or two more outside during the nice weather and a few more small indoor project in the house during the indoor winter months.

Now that we are 65 and 72, our age and our health is beginning to be a real consideration. Fortunately, I started thinking about this several years ago. I asked myself what will I do and how will we manage when it becomes more difficult to do the work we need to do?

This past season I hired hourly help in the garden and yard. We found a local young girl of fourteen who is strong and looking to make some money for school clothes. It’s not a perfect system as Olivia is only available on Sunday afternoons because she runs cross county and runs her daily miles every school night, but we have managed to make it work. And this past winter when Gene had his hernia operation we hired a local small business in the short-term to plow our driveway and another local boy to run the snow blower to clear our paths.The total cash out of pocket during Gene’s recovery was less than $100.00.

Some homesteaders find an apprentice or a farm worker and offer room and board in exchange for work. Others turn a spare bedroom or cabin into an Air B&B for extra cash income on the homestead.

Obviously, there is more than one way to make this work but this is what is woring for us.

The moral of this story is to plan ahead about how you might make your elder years’ on the homestead work for you and how you can turn your homestead into a property that will sustain you when you are older.

I hope to convince the editors at MEN that a monthly column written by me with interviews of senior homesteaders who ARE making it work will be both inspirtional and informative.

To help support this idea please send your letters/e-mails to:Rebecca Martin martin@ogdenpubs.com>

As always, thank you for following and if you are aging homesteaders and want to share tips with me about how you have made senior homesteading work for you, please contact me. I am always looking for new ideas on how you in the hometead trenches are making it work!

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

Glass Storm Door Replaced

Today we had the front storm door glass on my studio building replaced.

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In the meantime I learned that all storm doors are made of safety glass that will shatter if hit hard enough. Imagine how you could be hurt if you slipped on the ice and fell into a glass door and that glass broke into large shards. Glass doors are made this way to protect us from a fatal accident.

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We will never know for sure how this happened to our door but we think a stone was thrown from our lawn tractor and hit the glass because we found it shattered one morning late this fall.

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A phone call to our insurance company and seven week later we have a new glass door insert. In the meantime the pieces shattered in a zillion pieces and fell into our stone landscaping. That meant vacuuming out many tiny pieces of irregular shaped glass and then hauling over new pea gravel from the other side of our property and revamping the stone bed. That translated into five or six hours of hard physical labor.

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We worked with Glass Images out of Holland, MI. They came to measure, order and then replaced the glass insert. They did an excellent job for us.

After we cleaned up the glass pieces we put down a large vinyl tarp to keep the rest of the glass from falling out into the landscaping again. And on top of that we put large field stones to keep the tarp from blowing up in our high winds and sending glass pieces everywhere.

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This glass insert had to be a custom order and the main hold-up was that this door has mini blinds in between the glass. That also meant that it the insert to be rebuilt to match the back door, hence the long delay in replacing it.

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With property there is always something that needs to be repaired. Today we have a new door insert and that is one more chore is ticked off my winter to-do list.

Small House Homesteader, Donna