Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lee's latest DIY

Since I was a little girl, I've wanted a dressing table, the kind with a little bench that slides underneath and a big mirror, so I was thrilled to recently find a set online. It's from the '40s so I'm not sure it qualifies as an antique, but it's definitely vintage.

The dressing table itself is in excellent condition, hardly a scratch, but the bench needed some work. It had been painted brown so it no longer matched and I knew that if I stripped it, I would never get new stain to match the table.

The upholstery was worn and stained so I removed that and discovered two more equally grim seat covers underneath.

When I look at how dirty that top layer was, about the only thing that comes to mind is "ick"!

For paint, I decided white was the safest bet, and I went with chalk paint. If you've never used it, I encourage you to give it a try. Annie Sloan is a good brand. The surface being painted needs to be clean but otherwise very little prep is needed. It has no fumes, dries quickly, and a couple of coats will cover anything! After the final coat is dry, the painted surface needs a light coating with wax, Annie Sloan makes that, too, and you're done. Oh, and this paint is completely water soluble, so clean up is a breeze!

For upholstery I used a remnant that coordinates with the bedroom drapes and bedspread, and I added extra layers of padding so the seat is nice and cushy.

An easy project completed in an afternoon! It still doesn't match the dressing table, but now they go together better.

If you enjoy DIY and other decorating projects as much as I do, then I hope you'll enjoy my next book, The Daddy Project, which will be out on Tuesday. RT Book Reviews describes it as well as I can:
THE DADDY PROJECT (4) by Lee McKenzie: Single mom Kristi Callahan has been hired to redecorate single dad Nate McTavish's house - not to fall in love with him. But Kristi and Nate have more in common than just being single parents; they are both feeling family pressure to start dating again. Pretending to be with each other seems the simplest way to quell the complaints, but they do not anticipate the very real feelings that spark between them. When Nate's house is complete, they wonder if the relationship is over as well - and hope it isn't. McKenzie's characters are clever, with a captivating warmth that readers will love.

To celebrate the release, I'll be doing a series of guest blogs and giveaways, and will be posting details of those on my website. The next issue of my newsletter goes out next week and there'll be even more giveaways for subscribers. If you'd like to be added to my mailing list, there's a sign-up form on my website.

Happy reading!

Until next time,
The Daddy Project (Dec 2012)
Daddy, Unexpectedly (May 2012)
Maggie's Way (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 2012)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rules of Engagement--Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving horror stories--we've all got one or two or three disastrous family-gathering stories we could share with others.  Why is that the holidays tend to bring out the best and worst in people, especially among our loved ones? 
If you're the one hosting this year's dinner (lucky you) then it's important to set the ground rules and let your family and friends know you're the captain of the ship and they'd better follow your command at the dinner table. I know, easier said than done.  This year if I was hosting the dinner I'd tell everyone that before they came to my house they had to read my latest release, because we'd be discussing story structure, plot and characterization over the turkey dinner.  But that's not the case, we're heading to my sister-in-law's home.
Beau: Cowboy Protector
November 2012

 Linda Lewis Griffith is a marriage and family therapist who recommends the following... 
Rules of Engagement
Be pleasant at all times.
Do not bring up hurtful issues from the past.
Engage in appropriate dialogue.
Discuss only mutually safe topics.  
Avoid possibly contentious subjects.
Show up on time.
Be helpful.
Monitor your own consumption of alcohol.
Do your best to get along with everyone at the gathering.
Encourage children to play outside if the weather permits.
Be attentive to your own children’s needs and actions.
If you believe your family is incapable of following your rules or someone always sabotages your good intentions (you know your cousin Claire was jealous that you got asked to the junior prom and she didn't) then you may want to consider the following
Spend the holiday in a public place. (Wishful thinking, I know)
If you are the host, don't exhaust yourself before Thanksgiving dinner.
Right before the holidays, furniture and rug sales always go up. Many family members, especially siblings, are in competition over issues like who has the best and cleanest house, who is the best cook, etc. If you are hosting Thanksgiving, don't get into this kind of competitiveness: it will only exhaust you and ruin your holiday. It is okay to cut corners. Include ready-made foods along with homemade ones, close off messy rooms, and accept help in the kitchen. Your relaxed mood will set the tone of the gathering.
Spend time and energy on planning entertainment.
Thanksgiving is the slowest afternoon of the year, says Dr. William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota. The parade, the turkey, the football games and lethargy caused by overeating make it a long boring time, especially for children. Families get "cabin fever" and tensions arise.
Let the dinner end by early afternoon so that people can go to a movie or take a walk, if they desire. Give children the freedom to play outside; allow teenagers to go out by themselves. Bundle up and go look at store windows together. Have board games and other entertainment available.
Have a clever seating arrangement.
Try using place cards to assign seats so that you can separate people who do not get along. Although you may be tempted to, don't seat family members who have been feuding for years next to each other. 
Depending on the "Host Home" our family can have a very eclectic group gathering each Thanksgiving--family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and possibly even a divorced spouse or two.  A few Taboo Topics at our family gathering: Climate Change, Politics, Body Piercings, Body Weight, Hair Styles & Religion. 
Now for the fun part...what topics are taboo at your Thanksgiving Table?
Beau: Cowboy Protector November 2012
No Ordinary Cowboy *Rodeo Rebels* April 2013
The Cowboy Next Door *The Cash Brothers* July 2013