Monday, September 23, 2013

Branding, Signage . . . Go With Your Heart

I entertained lots of names for my little space, but no matter how much I willed "cottage charm" and "vintage crafty" to capture my heart, it always came back to "Gahan Girls." It's my blog, it's what Dawn (mom) and Harleigh (daughter) are, and it's what has become synonymous with entering the front door of Chateau Gahan and living comfortably and contentedly amidst pretty things and pampering ways.

Once that was settled, I started brainstorming signage. I knew I wanted some fabric draping to soften up the shelves (thank you Simple Finds resident stylist J.P.), and I had found the perfect fabric at Goodwill for $3.00. So why not combine the curtain-like drape with the sign itself. In one of my know-I'll-find-a-use-for-this-someday moments, I had saved the cardboard insert from a bolt of fabric. My inspiration!

And so with some cutting, wrapping, pinning and gluing, I created a sign that looks like a bolt of fabric unfurling itself. For the hanger, I bought a measuring tape, cut it in half, and secured it on each end, tying it in the center where it hangs from a nail. For the Gahan Girls name, I played around with creating the letters using black yarn, but it wound up looking like Giddyup cowboy font, so I pulled out the trusty black Sharpie and drew it on by hand. I have a bit of sprucing up to do on the twist of the tape and the way the tie hangs, but it's up! Along with my custom price tags, the branding is established!

In addition to showcasing all my vintage finds, I came up with the idea of selling what I'm calling Instant Collections. Often times I find bags of collectibles for cheap cheap cheap. Nestled into a jar, they take on a whole new charm! I spray paint the lids gold, and each is adorned with a baker's-twine-tied tag that says Instant Collection with the name of the collection handwritten in colorful marker. Here is what my signage says:

Instant Collections

Instant Collections are jars of collectibles, ready to get anyone started on the fun hobby of collecting.

Perfect gift for a little boy or girl — or anyone for that matter — you think would 
enjoy "the hunt" that we collectors find so intoxicating!

Or, buy one for yourself. Think outside the box — use as cake and gift toppers, stocking stuffers, 
inside a snow globe, fillers for advent calendar pockets/boxes.

I also finished my shell-encrusted bust, which is displayed under a glass cloche.
It will be tough to part with her, but saying goodbye to that project
leads to another just as relaxing and fun to work on.

And on a side note, Walmart has these darling miniature pies, about 3" in diameter. 
In apple, peach, cherry, blueberry, and a few others. 
And all are baked in a tin, 
and packaged in an adorable box with a cellophane window
and the designated fruit on the side.

How cute would these be for a shower or tea, tied up with ribbon and a tag.
The peach pie would make a nice addition to a hotel guest bag for a wedding.
And at 63 cents a piece, quite the bargain.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I have a booth!!!

For years, many many years, I've thought about renting booth space in an antique mall, but never acted on it. Timing wasn't right. Never found a mall that had the right feel. Worried I wouldn't have enough to keep a space stocked. Wasn't in the cards financially to commit to monthly rent payments with no guarantee on making a profit, much less breaking even. And then came last week.

Got a call from a local thrift store run by a gal I've come to know by first name. Whenever I pop into her store, to either drop off goods or shop, we chat. She recently mentioned that she was thinking about expanding her nonprofit shop and having half of it be an antique mall. Would I be interested, she asked, in renting space. Yes.

Last week she called and prefaced her reason for calling by saying that it would be awhile before she looks at expanding. In the meantime, a huge family-run furniture store close to where I live had recently gone out of business. And the space had become an antique mall and thrift store. She just rented space there and thought of me. Okie dokie. This is feeling very very right.

Called the mall, talked to a dear of a gal (Tasha), and within a day was the proud renter of a teeny tiny space. This Sunday, joined by my parents, I set-up shop. Met more employees and other renters. The space (my own and the overall store) has the best chi EVER. A decision hasn't felt this right in a very long time.

Faced with a house long overdue for some purging, I began collecting and pricing items. The booth is cozy but still a bit bare. Will add more merchandise this coming weekend.

When I met with Tasha, there were no small spaces left, and bless her heart, she cut a larger space into two for me. The square space initially appealed to me but I love the wonky one. 1) Like the square one, it's viewable from two sides, but mine also happens to hug a walkway turn and can be seen from the far end of the walkway, 2) this wonky space has a ceiling joist for hanging things, 3) because part of the space is into the hallway, I have two additional wall spaces for hanging things, and 4) it has a built-in bookshelf. It's perfect.

Here's the before:

And the after:

I made cute price tags, all with ric arc trim. 
And they're tied on with the selvage strip from a bolt of blue seersucker I had bought. 

I plan on filling the space with a mix of vintage finds and crafted pieces. 
There really is no time for sleep. And the weekend can't come fast enough; 
a chance to go 

Monday, September 9, 2013

On the eve of my birthday

In my late teens, early 20's, if asked to list my best physical attributes, it would have looked something like this (in no particular order): 

1) thin ankles and wrists (Olivia Newton John has cankles, and watching Grease was when I first thanked God for my break-like-a-twig joints)

2) long, slender legs (a boyfriend once wrote a romantic poem about them, which was ironic because when he dumped me in my senior year of college, my mom took me to Florida for Spring Break, and I got sun poisoning on my legs so bad that I couldn't move them. After that ill-fated, baby-oil-slathered, sunbathing-to-burn-out-the-hurt day, the rest of my time there was spent in an oatmeal bath or walking to dinner on legs that didn't bend, a comical entrance that I'm sure wasn't lost on the beautiful sun-kissed Spring Breakers who, when I walked in the room, could smell the brokenness)

3) a great head of straight, golden blonde long hair (I entered the Clairol Long & Silky Conditioner long hair contest when I was about 13; my mom took pix in the backyard and I wore an ivory, Mandarin-collared, short-sleeved top with embroidered flowers and green piping and a pair of Calvin Klein yeast-infection-inducing jeans; I heard crickets after submitting my entry, my one chance at achieving popularity gone)

4) pretty teeth (never wore braces, but as a little kid I remember bending paper clips into crescents and putting them on my upper ivories to pretend I did; this was right up there with wearing Bugles as fake fingernails)

5) superb arches (there's never been a doubt in my mind that a killer arch makes the foot)

These days I couldn't even come close to creating a list of my best physical attributes. The list is more like "Things About Myself That I Can Slightly Stomach, If I Look in the Mirror During a Heavy Fog." I keep the list-making to groceries, to do's, and movies to add to my NetFlix queue. Sometime in my late thirties I did make the list that all single females are encouraged to write — what I want in a mate. You know, the list to ponder and pen, then hide away for only you and God to know about. Lordy, I think I may have thrown mine away, which surely God took as a cue to focus His efforts on some other middle-aged lady who's jonesin' for a husband.

Anywho, back to my body. The list du jour is what I would want to fix (through exercise — yuk, plastic surgery — yukkier, or camouflage/coverage — burka). Dimpled thighs, saggy breasts, flabby arms, mottled and wrinkled skin, big gut, back fat, shelf butt, stray facial hairs, skin tags, varicose veins ASIDE, there has GOT to be a way to minimize my family of chins in pictures. Every doggone snapshot of Dawn E. Girl has my goofy smiling mug cradled in a hammock of jolliness. Even when I think I'm jutting my jaw in an exaggerated fashion to make the plural chins singular, there it is, as distracting as red-eye, and much harder to fix than a dot of black Sharpie on a red circle.

I met a woman once, a mom of a co-worker, who, when a camera pointed her way, would bring her open hand up under her chin, and with the entire length of her forefinger would push her neck fat back and smile as if the hand below her chin were merely a fashion accessory like a scarf or a trendy, chunky necklace. I gave her props, though. She never had to look at her double chin in pictures.  

This past weekend at my goddaughter's baptism the cameras were a clickin' and Harleigh, knowing my quest for the single-chin shot, kept directing "jut your jaw out, mom, stick your head out, tighten your neck muscles" and whatever else she could think of other than what I was thinking: will double chins ever come into fashion as we begin to embrace the fuller-figure woman as the norm? But I jutted, stuck and tightened as if my life depended on it. And my daughter and I, at the end of day, looked at the pictures, and there they were . . . chin x 2. Bless her heart, Harleigh squeezed my arm and said, "mom, your skin tone looks sooooooo good with your hair color." And there it was. That's what we girls do. We focus on whatever good there is, regardless of how inconsequential it seems. And for a short time — all we really need in fact — we revel in it. 

And so, on the eve of turning 53, I begin the list of my best physical attributes, 1) if there were a contest for the best pairing of skin tone and hair color, I'd win hands down and be the most popular girl in the world.

Friday, September 6, 2013

On Being Me

I got tagged on Instagram by a loyal follower, @hiyamippa, to list 20 facts about myself. Here's what I posted.

1) Seeing someone eat a booger will likely cause me to vomit.  When Harleigh was little I told her if she ate boogers she'd get worms in her stomach. No kidding.

2) When I was pregnant, we thought it was a boy and planned on naming him Harley; when it turned out to be a girl, we loved the name so much that we just changed the spelling to the "girl" version of the name.

3) When I leave myself a voice mail at work or home to remind myself of something, I always end it with telling myself I'm pretty and to have a great day.

4) When I'm alone, I talk out loud to myself A LOT.

5) I'm obsessed with flossing my teeth.

6) I start wearing my Christmas pins — have a collection of a bazillion — and playing Christmas music on November 1.

7) I am a distant relative of the famous newscaster Walter Cronkite. He died at 92, his mother at 101. Hope I've inherited that aging part of the gene pool.

8) I was voted Most Artistic by my senior high school class.

9) I have this thing about walking barefoot on carpet — can't do it.

10) And I love white socks. Wear them every day. Sort of a fashion-stunted dork.

11) I would have been an amazingly creative and productive stay-at-home mom.

12) I grew up with an Old English Sheepdog named Shawn, had one when I was out of college named Wyeth, and now have one named Gideon — all boys.

13) I chew my thumbs to bloody stumps; I take out all my stress and nervous tension on those two innocent digits.

14) I can't get gray fast enough. Love the gray hairs coming in on my head and brows and wish I could take a pill to make every stinkin' strand turn gray all at once.

15) I adore being alone. The occasional chat with the grocery store clerk will do me fine on a weekend as my one contact with civilization.

16) My sister makes me laugh until I wet my pants; this happens often and is encouraged.

17) The Scorpions is my favorite hair band.

18) My favorite song in the whole world is Moon River by Andy Williams.

19) If you know ATL radio, I listen to The Regular Guys every morning and wouldn't switch if ya paid me.

20) I'm a Republican and make no apologies, nor do I care to debate anyone about my stand.

Once it was out there for the world to see, I reread it and I gotta admit that I sighed in resignation, happy resignation.

I have become a character, a quirky lady living alone with her big dog.

My size 4, running 5-8 miles a day, skinny days are gone; my self these days is more defined by a grandmotherly cushion of boobs that lacks any sexuality, a place where gay men and children can lay their heads and find comfort.

My lack of confidence and contentment, an earmark of my twenties, has blossomed into a sense of peace and faith that I wish I could bottle up and hand out for free.

My dreams for the future aren't about being promoted at work and moving into a gated neighborhood. I'd be happy to live in a one-bedroom cottage at the beach making shell art and working at the town's family-owned book store.

Who knows if I will ever marry again, but for now the company of dear boy Gideon is enough to make me feel safe and loved. (But, God, if you do want me to be in a relationship, please let him be doughy, get my sense of humor and wear a Santa hat when we go out shopping at Christmastime.)

And my daughter, good gosh, my daughter. She loves me for (or despite, in some cases) the 20 facts above. And when I asked her if she read the Instragram post where I listed them, she said, "no, mom, I don't need to read them. I know you." She does, better than anyone. And adores me. White socks and all.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Farewell to Summer

Harleigh went back to college, and Chateau Gahan is now just me and little man. He got his summer cut way too late into the season, but Atlanta this summer was a weird, wet mess, a four-month stretch that never really settled into its typical hot and dry place.

Along with the end of every season comes a renewed energy to plug ahead with new adventures and projects. The hutch I bought off of craigslist was the perfect excuse to try Annie Sloan chalk paint (not chalkboard paint, and it contains NO chalk; it's named that simply because it feels like chalk once applied and dried and before you wax it). My name is Dawn. And I am an Annie Sloan chalk paint addict.

Not only do you not have to sand or prime, but the paint goes on beautifully, there's no fumes and clean-up is a cinch. I would recommend buying one of the round Annie Sloan brushes. I choked a bit on the price of the paint and so I didn't buy the brush at the time, but wound up going back and getting it (along with more paint in more colors), and I'm glad I did. It's a round, super dense, all-natural-bristle brush that pairs perfectly with the paint for effortless application and to get into nooks and crannies. It's an investment, but I'll use it forever. FYI, the hutch hardware got a coat of matte black spray paint.

I found the little Dutch-inspired lamp at a thrift store for $2.00, and it looks perfect for the English country cottage look I'm goin' for. The picture above the hutch had to find a new home, and so I moved it to the hallway "gallery." The cabinets below contain candles and vases, and the shelves house my cookbooks. There's lot more styling to do, including a redo on the dollhouse below, which will go on the very top of the hutch.

I've had a handmade wooden dollhouse in my garage FOR-E-VER, and the idea of actually getting into dollhouse crafting had me a bit overwhelmed — 1) I'll get hooked, and every extra cent I have will go toward minis, 2) I have enough projects on my plate right now, 3) my craft room is only so big, and 4) where do I store the doggone thing once it's completed (although I suppose with doll-housing, there is never really an end to it). On Pinterest, I saw these . . .

. . . and I knew that my dollhouse was heading for a different kind of life. Harleigh had a dollhouse bookshelf when she was little (it's up in my attic now, waiting for grandchildren to come into the picture one day), and I always loved it. There is something so comforting and quaint about playing house on a miniature scale; The Littles and The Borrowers were a childhood fascination for me. The picture on the top left embodies exactly how I want my dollhouse to look. Now, granted, my house has no windows or doors, and it's WAY smaller than the one in the picture, but I think I can make it work. 

My evenings have been busy with painting, repairing some loose wood, and I'm even taking a stab at cutting coffee stirrers to make a hardwood floor in one room (this last task is purely for the pleasure of it; makes no difference in the finished product since you won't even see the house floors from where it sets on the hutch).

On another note . . . 
I finally bought an asparagus steamer this past weekend. 
I'm turning 53 years old, and it's about time. 
I thought I could find one for like $9.99. 
But with a coupon, I didn't have to sell an organ to invest in one.

A few random IG pix from the past few weeks.

Made the banana bread for my church's bread ministry. Loaves are given to church guests. I think I might like gift-wrapping the bread with pretty fabric, ribbon and tag as much as I like the giving itself.

The vintage Florida map hung out in my paper and ephemera box 
until I finally found a frame at Goodwill that fit it, well sorta.
 Too dang cheap to have it framed professionally. 
Only problem was that the "FL" got cut off of the word "FLORIDA." 
It's been bugging the heck out of me, so I painted the "FL" onto the frame.

Harleigh came home over Labor Day weekend, an impromptu visit that was filled with Gilmore Girls, coffee in the afternoon, blanket snuggling as the rain poured, gabbing and more gabbing, book reading and a friendship-bracelet-making session at my request (I'm using them for an upcoming event).
I told her, with all my heart, that it was the best 24-hours I've spent in years. 

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