Upcycling.

Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

A friend sent a photo of two chairs his mom was planning to throw away. They were hideous. He thought of me as I’ve been learning upholstery over the past year and a half and figured I might want to make a project of them.

Cambridge online dictionary defines project: noun  (ˈpräjˌekt)  a ​piece of ​planned ​work or an ​activity that is ​finished over a ​period of ​time and ​intended to ​achieve a ​particular ​purpose. I found a second definition of the word describing a large or major undertaking, especially one involving considerable money, personnel and equipment.

Tadaa!!

Perhaps from the early 70’s, or even the 60’s these rounded low chairs are seated on a chrome swivel base that was heavily rusted, but with some elbow grease, polished up quite nice. After removing the original fabric and the innards, I found the wooden “skeleton” in pretty good shape. A few reinforcements with screws, braces and glue gave added insurance that these chairs would last a couple more generations of  seating while sipping Martini’s or beer, eating popcorn on movie nights, game nights, conversing with friends or maybe even falling asleep.

Ava at the Beach.

859556_4460745881452_407812683_o I was complimented when a friend said she wanted to spend a day watching me paint, and/or paint with me, see how I work….. Is there a method to my madness? I decided to follow the progress of a painting taking photos as I went along.

Often I find I overwork something then wish I could press the “undo” button and go back a step or two. That’s when my husband might question why I didn’t put my signature on it and hang it on the wall several iterations ago.

I imagine many artists 830494_4460745641446_761784991_ohave a desired “look” or “feel” they want to achieve. Some point of measure that is known only to the artist herself,  and until that point is reached, the signature may remain lost in the hairs of the brush.

This particular project went from palette to canvas with relative ease.  I don’t really know why one painting can be completed in a couple of hours, while another takes months of frustrating do-overs? I’m pleased with how I was able to capture the sun on her knee.860932_4460749841551_938766107_o

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Ava at the BeachAva at the Beach • 2013 • Edie Moore Olson

It Isn’t All Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

A fellow blogger, Jessica Glassberg, is on a journey with her family in Australia. She is a writer with the gift of humor. You can follow her, fun loving, heartfelt tales along with me.

The Journey of Jessica

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Yes, most of the blogs I post on here are about all of the fun adventures we’re having here in Sydney. And trust me, we are having a blast!

But in between the trips to museums and the zoo

In the midst of play dates with new friends

There are tantrums. There are crying jags. There is stress and anxiety and the general pressure of parenting.

There are moments of just sheer exhaustion.

There are days where we have fun playing and learning. And then there are days like today where I’m standing in Woolworth’s, having made all of my supermarket selections and am headed towards the check out when The Little Moo suddenly bolts out of her stroller and runs down an aisle. I am then forced to abandon said stroller and my filled grocery basket in the middle of the meat department to keep up…

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Tomatoes

IMG_0001Slow roast cherry tomatoes with garlic cloves in an oven of 200 degrees 3 to 5 hours.

I’ll toss the tomatoes and garlic in olive oil, a pinch or two of brown sugar and some balsamic vinegar.  Spread them evenly on a roasting pan and place in the oven. Check occasionally, turning them over, gently, so not to burst them. I might sprinkle dried herbs at the beginning of this process, or add basil leaves at the end when I’m ready to store them in a jar and refrigerate. I add a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper when I store them in a tightly sealed mason jar.

Roasted tomatoes and garlic make a great addition to a salad, or as an appetizer with fresh mozzarella. I’ve used it as a spread on toasted french bread.  I once impressed a friend when I took a jar out of the fridge and tossed it in a pan of fried (diced) bacon. I tossed in cooked pasta and sprinkled on some parmesan…. she thinks I’m a gourmet cook! IMG_0021

Coral Cheeks

coral sweater

Mom wore a coral colored cardigan with big buttons, pockets and 3/4 length sleeves  (or maybe she pushed up her sleeves). It was a thick knit with a collar that closed up around the neck.  It was the sixties, I would have been 5 or 6. I  thought the color was pretty against her skin.

Her lip stick wasn’t a sassy red, but more like that same coral color. When she’d go out, my sister Robin and I would ask her to kiss us so she could leave a lip print on our cheeks.

When She Was Younger, by Edie Moore Olson 2014
When She Was Younger • 2014 • Edie Moore Olson

Tchotchkes

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Tchotchke: pronounced (ˈCHäCHkə), Yiddish  –  A small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional; a trinket (Webster’s Dictionary). The Urban Dictionary defines Tchotchke as: A small piece of worthless crap.

Everyone has them. Little knickknacks hidden behind other knickknacks collecting dust. Perhaps they are kept in a box, maybe a secret treasure chest type box. Tucked away.

IMG_0025To an outsider it may look like a rock, but to me, it’s a gift my son gave me when he was three. I keep it in my purse.  A blue bird with a chip in it’s beak, was a gift from Edna Degraffenreid, a woman who worked with my mother. I was fourteen. I don’t remember packing or unpacking it, but it has moved with me and after 40 years, it still has a home on top of my dresser. I have three Murano glass frogs my mother-in-law brought back from Italy. There was a slight panic when I dropped one and broke its leg and a failed attempt at gluing. The sentiment remained intact.

IMG_0004When Uncle Winston passed away, a couple of the cousins and I packed up his house. One keepsake I took with me was a faux Limoges box shaped like a carrot. There’s a tiny white rabbit inside. Turns out, my sister was the one who gave it to him.

Inside the goodie bags at my daughter’s 5th birthday party, her guests found a tiny ballerina with a magnet at the base of its feet. The tiny mirror that came with it is also magnetic. Put them together and the ballerina dances. I want her to dance.  She spins and stops, spins and stops. She stares. In the end she performs a lovely adagio.

IMG_0005A tiny glass dolphin. A small glass bunny. A turtle, a pig, a teeny weeny rubber chicken. A long neck goose carved out of teak, a pIMG_0039encil sharpener shaped like a cannon from the Alamo. A minuscule teddy bear and blanket crocheted with vintage yarn. The craftsmanship of this little bear is amazing. I met the artist and admire her work, we belong to the same Artist Guild. The teddy bear wanted a ride on the bicycle after he saw the rubber chicken ride by.

Tchotchkes. Taking them down from the shelf is kinda like looking at old photographs. The memories come flooding in.

Mother's Day. My son's gift to me. A souvenir from Sea World.
Mother’s Day. A souvenir from Sea World. My son’s gift to me.
A handblown glass bunny. I found it at a toy store in Berkeley while shopping with my daughter when three.
Handblown glass bunny found at a toy store in Berkeley. My daughter was  four. A mommy daughter shopping date.
There's a glass straw inside of this coke can.
This belongs to my son. There’s a small straw inside (it’s broken).
Chickens, pigs, turtles. They are just cute.
They’re just cute.
The pig fits inside of the carrot!
The spotted pig fits inside of the carrot!
The world's tiniest rubber chicken taking a ride on a bike.
A tiny rubber chicken riding on a bike is pretty funny!

Lemons

Something I like to have readily available in the fridge is a simple syrup made with the juice of freshly squeezed lemons.

IMG_0011Squeeze the juice from several lemons and strain the pulp and seeds.  Place equal parts juice and sugar (raw works very well) in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Once boiled, reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally, so not to burn, for 5-10 minutes. Liquid should reduce and thicken slightly.

When life gives you lots of lemons… make syrup!

IMG_0013I like using this in tea, a variety of cocktails, as well as combining with seltzer water for a sparkling lemonade.

Often I’ll toss in strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. I will let it cook a bit longer in order to get as much of the color and flavor of the added fruit. Again strain the pulp to keep the liquid clear. Store in a jar or bottle, keep refrigerated.

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Lime Green Vinyl

pianoWhen I was growing up, the piano in our home was an upright covered in lime green vinyl. A memory that makes me smile. I recently called my mom to question this interesting choice in furniture decor.  Her simple response, “because her mother (my grandmother) wanted it that way”. Then she told me to stop laughing at her mother!

Grandmother played the piano by “ear”. My dad would have said, “that’s because she’s so short!” She was only 4’11” and her ears were close to the keys, of course she could play by ear!

The sound of her playing and singing “If I Can Help Somebody” is very much alive in my heart. My sister and I would imitate her, giggling when we’d get to the chorus, “then my living shall not be in vain…” We’d screech to reach the high notes, (just like Grandmother).

If I can help somebody, as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song,
If I can show somebody, (where) they’re traveling wrong,
Then my living shall not be in vain.
~Alma Bazel Androzzo

Beautiful Mistakes

A couple of years ago I thought I’d return to work as a graphic designer. I stopped working about 13 years prior and the world of computer graphics had changed tremendously in my absence. I was surprised when I found a position with the hands on training I wanted in order to be competitive in the industry. My new employer was aware of my background and of the experience I felt I was lacking, but she was willing to take a chance. The job was to create graphics that were to be inserted into a website.

My first day on the job, I was informed that both my boss and the co-worker that was training me were leaving on vacation at the end of the week.  My co-worker gave me instructions, guided me and answered questions. Day two, I could no longer take up my co-worker’s time as she had her own stuff to do. I had a long list of steps to follow for creating the graphics and that was that.

For two weeks I followed the list and fell into a rhythm thinking things were flowing smoothly. It was in the naming of the files that I made my mistake. Somewhere along the way, I missed a beat. I was supposed to save the files with a (dot) after a (number) or something and at one point without realizing, I left out the (dot).  I developed a routine and for remainder of the time on my own, I created files and named them incorrectly.

When she returned, my boss began inserting the files I’d created into the website and they didn’t do what they were supposed to, so she fired me. She explained what I’d done wrong, and I thought, okay, I can correct that. But she said, she couldn’t afford to have me correct two weeks of error. I offered my time for free willing to do what was needed to get it right. I reminded her that no one ever checked my work prior to their leaving me on my own, and she said, no one should have had to check my work!

Fortunately I didn’t need that job. I wanted it and I was eager to learn, but I was in an environment where mistakes weren’t tolerated.

“Your mistake does not define who you are… you are your possibilities”  –Oprah Winfrey

More recently, a friend needed car seats for a hot rod he is rebuilding. He offered to pay for the upholstery class if I built the seats as my project. I agreed to what turned out to be a most exciting challenge. The seats were to be built from scratch. I only had the metal frames as a guide. With my instructors assistance I created patterns and crafted the seats to fit my friends 1937 Ford.

Many mistakes were made along the way. At one point it felt my sewing was merely a set up for seam ripping. It’s frustrating taking things apart and starting over, but at the same time, it feels good to solve problems and figure out how to make it work. I was grateful to be in a place where the mistake wasn’t considered failure, but an opportunity to grow.  I walked away feeling victorious in my accomplishments.

Too often we let our mistakes paralyze us when they should propel us to make a change.

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Welcome!

White potThere’s  a white pot sitting on the stove and it’s full of something yummy.

It’s a warm Sunday afternoon, they were out and about and decided to go to Edie’s. There’s always something to eat at her place. The friends have a drink, they tell stories, they feed their souls. They look at pictures, share recipes, talk about their week, they laugh. What a great visit!

I always imagined having a home where friends and family felt comfortable enough to stop by, even unannounced, because they knew they’d be welcomed. They could have a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine. They’d share from the pot. They’d talk of memories, they’d make memories, they’d bring light to each others lives.

It takes a variety of ingredients to give stew its flavor.  The stories, the memories and the laughter are what fill the white pot.

The White Pot is my blog. I have stories to tell and ideas to share. I hope to inspire, just as I’m hoping your contributions inspire me.

I have a new recipe I’d like to try. I’m working on a new painting, wanna see? Did I tell you about our drive down the coast? I saw the funniest movie last week…

I’m so glad you stopped by.