the Chairs

Awhile back I was on the lookout for some new chairs. The old brown chair I’d adopted from Tressa had seen better days and was ready to go to the big, chair heaven in the sky.

There were a few things I wanted in a chair:

  • cheap
  • good lines
  • minimal embellishments
  • well built
  • good fabric

Well 4 out of 5 isn’t bad, especially since I got 2 chairs – FREE!

You might have seen the preview I posted on Instagram earlier this month:


What you can’t tell from the picture is that the fabric is a really soft velvet. They’re also super sturdy and heavy. Even the seat, which is the only removable piece, is a good 5 pounds.

While I really like the pale green color, there was a lot of… marks:

DSC_0294 DSC_0291And there are a few places where the fabric looks damaged – almost like cigarette burns but not burns:

DSC_0295The front of the chair looks really rough too:

DSC_0289Additionally the front right leg on Chair A split in half during movement. So I slathered on some wood glue and put it in place. These are not the most classy legs so I will be modifying them along with the remodel

DSC_0300Now, what to do? The idea of covering the chair in new fabric is tempting but the fact remains that I am rubbish at sewing and the original fabric is in good condition.

So I decided to paint.

This is only made possible by the fact there are not lots of tears or rips in the fabric and the marks are pretty light – it would be different if there were mud smears or some other… shit.

Here are the tutorials I visited for inspiration:

While chalk paint was interesting I wanted to use what I already had on hand and started with some of the Behr paint samples I had around. While I’m working on a few paint colors for a new project, having these available made it easier to get started.

Step 0 – Gather your Supplies

To start with, you want some “paint medium” which doesn’t sound like a thing but it is. It’s used to soften the fabric that you paint to keep it from feeling too crusty and it also called “fabric medium”. The average cost is about $1 per ounce but the little bottles are obnoxious so grab some 8 oz ones if you can. I’ve found them at JoAnn’s, Michael’s and Amazon.

The best deal I found was an 8 oz bottle for $5.99 and I was able to use a 25% off coupon at Michael’s to get 16 oz for under $10. Score.

Then choose your paint – acrylic, latex or chalk paint – check out the options in the links and choose the one you want to try. I went with an indoor paint sample from Behr.

Fill a spray bottle with water. Or, like me, realize you have broken your last one while scraping ceilings so empty a bottle of Fabreeze and fill it with water.

Some fine grit sand paper, if your chair has pills or rough spots.

A paint brush.

Step 1 Clean the Chair

This was fairly easy – I started with some upholstery cleaner in the stained spots and used a stiff cleaner brush (from a different upholstery cleaner). However in those areas the velvet texture of the chair became less soft. Since I like the feeling of the velvet this wasn’t ideal and I’m glad I started on the back/sides.

Using water and a rag, clean the fabric to remove dirt and hair. Trust me, you do not want painted on doggie hairs.

Step 2 Mix up the Paint

I started with 2 oz bottles of paint medium so first the whole bottle goes into a glass jar with lid. Then I  half filled the paint medium bottle with water and poured that into the glass jar. Third, I funneled the paint I chose into the bottle until it was full and then emptied it to into the glass jar.

With the lid on I shook it up fast in order to mix it well and then started brushing it on the back of the chair.

Step 3 Paint the Fabric, one section at a time

The paint mix is close to a stain, very watery, so be careful getting it on the fabric. I had the best luck dunking the brush and then laying it directly on the fabric. You may want to brush it on the “wrong” way and then smooth it out with the grain. However you get the paint on the chair (at the end I just poured what was left in my jar directly on), you’ll want to brush it into the fabric and go with the grain.

The easiest way to determine the grain is to run your hand over the dry fabric. One direction should be much smoother and it’s not always left/right or up/down. In some places where the fabric is pulled across a curve the gain is actually at an angle.

One question the other tutorials didn’t answer for me was how far the paint goes. The first 5 ounces (2 oz paint, 2 oz paint medium, 1 oz water) covered the back of the first chair.  The tutorials recommend 3 coats, the third being more concentrated. I do recommend starting in small batches and seeing how far it can go.

The second 10 oz I mixed up covered the left side and over the arm, across the front and a third of the seat on one side.

Some Notes so far:

The paint I chose is a damn close match to the original fabric. Which could be great to achieve the color I want but may also be difficult to cover the stained areas.

The sections I scrubbed with the brush were still rough after painting so as I move around the sides of the chair cleaning I’ll try different methods to clean without destroying the soft velvet finish.

Here are some progress pics for you!

Before painting:

DSC_0297First coat still wet:

DSC_0302Looking down at the arms can you tell which one has been freshly painted?

DSC_0314And which side here hasn’t been painted yet:

DSC_0312Pretty big difference! Now I’ll just keep working my way around to complete the first coat and it seems to be covering the stains well. The color is not entirely consistent yet which is why, I’m guessing, they suggest multiple coats!


What’s up with the Voice?

So, about 4 years ago I stopped watching TV. While there are shows I love, I’ll wait impatiently and then buy them on DVD to watch commercial free.

This spring though I found out an old friend, Mike Busbee, was going to appear on the Voice as a coach for Shakira. And a colleague of mine was posting about her cousin and top 5 Finalist, Kat Perkins. The third push was seeing top 3 Finalist Christina Grimmie was on the show – someone whose duet with Sam Tsui here is one of my favorite things on YouTube.

With those 3 little pushes I was convinced and started to watch clips and then full episodes online until the finale this week.

Here’s some of my random thoughts.

I love that the Voice is not adversarial. Even when they put artists against each other in “battles” the coaches are clear that if you try to overpower your partner you’d both lose. So, so true. The fact that they have coaches and not judges is even more awesome.

Having only seen old episodes of American Idol, it was a nice change from someone (Simon) give negative but honest feedback and having the audience boo. The Voice seems to spark a nice balance between celebration and constructive criticism. After all, the coaches want to win as well and they do it by building up the artists. And even though the coaches are competing, they don’t insult other teams which is refreshing.

The music is actually good and maybe I missed the first part of the season where attention seeking, self deluded “musicians” participate but every performance I saw was quality.

I also thought the production did an amazing job of incorporating social media by including hashtags on the screen, showing tweets from the judges and such. I don’t really care if the host reads out captions from twitter followers on the boring results show because I skipped those.

That said, there were a few things that I disliked.

The story doesn’t have to be the same, in the early battle rounds you had a 50/50 chance of staying with your coach. Without fail every single singer said “oh if I don’t win I’ll lose my dream/go back to school/give up/have nothing” or some other similar sentiment.

It’s simply too uniform to not be scripted. I would rather see someone say confidently “I will continue to pursue my dream” because that drive is so much more valuable as an emotion than desperation. I doubt threatening to quit will convince the coaches to keep them around and once the show opens up to audience voting those words linger.

And honestly just sound whiny. It’s called hustle. Get some.

One candidate even says there’s no place to perform in her town (in Alaska if I recall) which is literal bull shit. Aforementioned Christina Grimmie went into the show with over 200 million views on her YouTube channel. If you have the internet, you have an audience.

Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with being a parent or single parent but don’t pretend your child’s future is at risk. If you can’t support your family (seriously, several contestants claimed this) then you need to do whatever it takes to care for them – not gamble and act like not voting your way is going to hurt your kids. That’s your responsibility.

It’s also one of the reasons I really respect the winner Josh Kaufman – he mentions in his story that in addition to working and playing gigs he teaches SAT prep on the side to make money. That’s dedication.

I’ve worked with SAT prep kids, they’re little know-it-all shits. The fact that he didn’t whine and say “omg I have 3 kids if I don’t win they won’t respect me” is so smart.

There’s a delicate balance on any stage, whether you’re applying for a job, dating someone or on a national TV show.

Be careful of who you pretend to be. Of the story you tell and allow others to tell through you.

While I’m not likely to get cable again anytime soon, I’m excited to hear what these artists do with their new platforms.

Going Paperless

While it may not be feasible to be 100% paperless, lately I’ve been focused on downsizing how much paper is stored in my garage and office. At last count there were 11 banker’s boxes of paper in the garage and a large tub to sort through in my office.

papers to scan 2When the water heater went out in March the resulting flood ruined some of the extra banker’s boxes that I was waiting to use and those got tossed.  After clearing out some stuff in the garage, I pulled the first of the boxes out to sort in the living room.

papers to scan 1Here’s what I found in the first box and how I dealt with it:

1. School transcripts, report cards and test scores were scanned and saved. I’m hoping to find some waterproof and safe boxes for sentimental papers, maybe scrapbook paper types. Most of these have my SSN on them so I will password protect these scanned docs as well.

2. Old utility bills and any statement older than 2010 gets shredded. I filled up the shred box and do enough to fill up the reservoir before the shredder overheats.

3. Medical reports concerning the car accident in 2008 are scanned then shredded. I also scanned my prescription records since I’ve had to re-report those when signing up for health insurance before.

4. Medical records from my surgery in 2006 will be scanned and then shredded – all of these docs have my name, social and address as well as the details of my surgeries and complications.

When reviewing lots of resources online I came up with 3 groups of papers and everything goes into these categories:

Group 1 What files do I have to keep?

  • tax records for 7 years
  • education records, transcripts and diplomas
  • title and current insurance policy for my car
  • house loan payments, tax records and insurance information
  • tax deductible receipts for the current year
  • my birth certificate, social security card and passport
  • annual investment statements including 401(k) and IRA

Group 2 What other files should I keep?

  • receipts for appliances and items under warranty
  • immunization and registration paperwork for my dogs

Group 3 Files I keep digital copies of:

  • current bank statements
  • current utility statements and bills
  • owner’s manuals (will scan eventually)

The best online resource I came across was this one from the US Govt.

But most of my papers were not filed into boxes, they’re in folders and baskets and stacks all over the place. As I am working in the office and coming across stacks I am attempting to deal with them as I go.

Anything “clean” like new notebooks or printer paper goes into the office closet for storage. Right now this includes lined and graph paper, labels and dividers, printer paper in all colors, business cards, post-its and cards.

Old content from courses or coaching programs is being recycled. Some things get scanned as samples, while the workbooks that I want to keep are being hole-punched for a binder. The larger binders or spiral bound content is getting tossed because let’s be honest, I’m never going to read a 200 page bound workbook. Ever.

Business cards are all going into a box and when my brain is tired at the end of the day I’ll pull out a dozen or so and make sure they’re in my database. No rush.

I also found a bunch of my “architectural” drawings and I use that term loosely because they’re mostly sketches on graph paper I made 15-20 years ago. Some were nice enough to scan (memories yo) and the rest were recycled. No, I didn’t shred them. If someone want a drawing from an 8 yo that includes a Killer Whale fish tank in a house, go for it. Btw, 8 yo Kelly, worst idea ever!

Lastly, most of my papers were notes, sketches and lists and that content typically goes right into my business project management list or my personal wiki for stuff I need to do.

A lot of this is spilling over into cleaning up my digital files too – bookmarks, personal files, even blogs. I figured I would start posting on this now because it always seems disingenuous to me when someone posts a “we’re done” project without really going into the process along the way. So there’s that.

This is all my fault

I’ve been thinking about the future of this blog lately and wondering what I should do next. The posts have slowed down even if my work around the house is speeding up.

Today I realized the problem. Everything on my business blog is planned. Calculated. Measured. And as a result there a lack of spontaneity. That’s fine.

But it’s definitely spilled over here where I am half writing posts and then adding to them but not hitting publish because I need to finalize photos or something.

This blog is first and foremost mine. I don’t have ads or sponsors because I don’t want to pursue any goals but my own and this whole thing started as a photo and memory journal for my first house.

Maybe I’ll end it when I move, maybe I won’t. But I will definitely be going back to the spirit that made this blog fun in the first place and that’s the unstructured, low stress nature of My Friend Kelly.

Which is ironic because it’s nothing like me in that way!


Today is Saturday and I have no idea how it got to be May so soon! It feels like Spring has been here since December though and the only notable difference is that the garden centers have all their flowers on sale.

I currently have 4 hydrangea plants in my garden boxes that aren’t dead yet!

This morning was productive, even if midnight to 3am was riddled with insomnia and YouTube videos. My goal today is to completely exhaust myself and spend a few hours at the gym if I can’t sleep so I fall asleep before midnight.

To that goal, I have already cleaned up mushrooms and dog poop in the backyard – the mushrooms tell me that I may be watering too late. The sprinklers go off at 12:36am (ask me how I know THAT) and while I’m glad the water doesn’t evaporate, it may be keeping the grass wet too long and nurturing those disgusting fungi.

I only water for 5 minutes because we’re in a drought and all but since I’m not washing my car, I figured I could keep watering for 5 minutes a night. A midnight.

One way I’m saving energy is with the new water heater we installed in April. The old one sprung a leak and proceeded to bathe my garage for a few days. While I like the new one I really, really want to replace the box it’s propped up on. You know, the box that had water and mold and nastyness on it for weeks? That one.

Perhaps my priority right now though is 1) to power wash everything I can reach with the sprayer I borrowed from Dad and 2) add some side shelving to my office and guest room closets.

The office also got a makeover this morning, simply by moving the desk (again) and bringing in a new bookshelf to organize. Also in here is the gigantic dog crate that was given to me some time ago but someone. It’s big enough for Jackson so I put his old square bed in there along with a blanket for burrowing and the dogs have a new favorite spot in my office.

Which is great if it keeps Nixon off window sills.

Well, I am almost out of coffee and my to do list is 17 miles long today. If I have time later I’ll try to figure out how to import my Instagram feed since I’m posting pictures with little bits of commentary there every day or so and really liking that medium.