Island Time

A Year Off Enjoying Life

Chair “Facelifts”

While cleaning out our attic a few weeks ago, I found an old pair of director chairs.  My original plan was to take them to the Habitat Resale Store.  I had acquired these chairs over 30 years ago from a friend who was moving.  Upon examining them I realized the wood frames were still intact albeit dirty!  The last time I had remade the seats and backs for them, I didn’t have a heavy duty machine which meant I was unable to stitch canvas ones.  With my Sailrite machine, I knew it would be a cinch to stitch new covers from canvas scraps in my sewing room.  The only cost was two cans of spray paint.

Unfortunately I didn’t remember to take before pictures, but here are the afters.

IMG_7818 IMG_7820

My second facelift’s inspiration came from Pinterest.  I had three old card table chairs in the basement that are older than the director chairs.  The chairs and card table were a wedding gift over 36 years ago!  I bought two more cans of spray paint the same color that I painted the director’s chairs.  Next I remembered a really cute nautical fabric I had seen earlier this summer at Hancock Fabrics.  The fabric is actually tablecloth fabric but was only $6.99 a yard.  Total cost for the project was less than $20.00.  I haven’t found time to start the card table, but it’s on my list.  Here are the chairs.  Somewhere over the years, I have lost one chair.  Or rather I think my children have “misplaced” it!






The seats are easily removed from the chair with a small wrench.  I didn’t even remove the original “leather”.   Using the seat as a pattern, I allowed about an 2 inch allowance.  Stapling the fabric on was a cinch.

Paint from Lowes

Paint from Lowe


It took less than a can for each chair.  I will repost when I finish the card table.

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The Reality of Island Time

My year of Island Time is about up but it is official…I’m not returning to teaching, at least for now.  The decision to take a year off was to recuperate mentally, physically and emotionally.  During this year I wanted to evaluate my life without work outside the home and see how I fared.  Without a doubt it has been a very good year!  Just ask my friends, my children, and most importantly my husband.  Having extended, unadulterated time to think and be able to explore new avenues has been wonderful.  I want to thank my husband for encouraging  me in this endeavor, my therapist for allowing myself to look at other possibilites, my principal for supporting me in my decision, my dear sister-in-law to listening to me and always being there,  my friends for their continual appraisal of  my well-being, and last but not least my children for all their moves which made me realize it was THE YEAR to not be working.

With every major decision comes some regret, uncertainty, and maybe a little grief, at least for me.  I do miss teaching…after all it was all I have ever wanted to do.  Maybe sometime in the future, I will do it again, but I know it will be different.  Things are never the same.  Lewis Carroll’s quote “I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then” comes to mind along with Thomas Wolfe’s “You can’t go home again” remind that the four years I taught with Marti at Roosevelt are a wonderful memory that cannot be replayed.  I will treasure those years as a special time.  But I also know two things about myself that makes me a natural teacher-I love people and I really enjoy teaching someone something I know how to do whether it be academics or something totally different.  So, yes I will continue to teach and enjoy people of all ages in all types of situations.

Looking forward I see a multitude of possibilites for my life and others.  And the best part is that I can do it at a slower pace that enhances health and attitude of me and those I come in contact with on a regular basis.  The idea of living my life on “island time” all the time suits me.  Of course it runs counterculture to our society which is governed more by speed and efficiency, but I have always been out of step with “society” and have wanted to march to my own drum.  Now that I am comfortable in my own skin, I can have my own parade or siesta as the mood strikes.  Now if only my deep rooted Calvinistic Protestant work ethic would leave me alone-I will do it and not feel guilty!

Sunset at Charleston Harbor Marina 


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Art Smart

One of the classrooms I have volunteered in this year has been the art class at John Sevier Middle School.  My link and interest here is the art teacher, one of my dear friends-Minta Fannon.  Minta has been teaching art in Kingsport City Schools for over 20 years and has been at Sevier for over half that time.  I met Minta when I was teaching 6th grade science at the middle school.  We are both sailors and instantly connected.  Over the past the past 6 years, Minta and her husand Rob along with my husband, James have logged many nautical miles on Watauga Lake, the Caribbean, and the coastal water of the Atlantic. 

At the beginning of the school year, I assisted Minta in setting up her classroom for the new year.  I have helped out occasionally this year by photographing art work and labeling in her computer.  Last week I spent a couple of enjoyable afternoons matting artwork and then assisting her in setting up for the annual Downtown Kingsport Association’s School Art Show.  I am so impressed with the creative juices she coaxes out of these 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.  Check out the slideshow or to see in person, visit the DKA at 140 W. Main Street, Kingsport, TN  37660.  The DKA is open to the public Monday-Friday from 8 am-5pm.  Exhibits from all the cities schools will be on display the entire month of March.

I keep promising to myself that I am going to avail myself of Mrs. Fannon’s wonderful teaching.  I have one last 9-weeks to “attend” class and learn how to make a ceramic teapot or paint a beautiful flower painting.

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Over a dozen or so years ago, Lana and I opened an antique booth at The Haggle Shop in downtown Kingsport.  Neither one of us really knew anything about antiques, but we both had furniture and items in our home that we wanted to sell.  After discussing it for several months, Lana just marched down to The Haggle Shop, introduced herself to Joyce Grills, the owner, and rented us a booth.  At $50 a month, we  rarely made rent, but we enjoyed our monthly trip to the shop.  On “shop” day we would take down new items, tidy our booth, pay our rent, and on good months, get our check for items sold.  Oh, and we always ate lunch somewhere downtown.  It was an inexpensive hobby and cheap entertainment.

After awhile we started going to the Tuesday auction at Old Tyme Auction.  Our favorite part of auction day was the morning box lot sales.  The box lots were like a treasure hunt for us.  Sometimes we would get so caught up in the auction, that we would find ourselves bidding against each other!  The day after the auction, we would dig through our purchases and decide what was worth cleaning up for the booth and what we wanted to keep for ourselves.   During this time we acquired some nice collectibles and got rid of our unwanteds. 

When I started teaching, the booth started to become a chore instead of our hobby.  It was time to close shop.  After assimilating many of the nicer items into our homes, we donated the rest to Goodwill.   Actually we donated very little.  Lana instinctively knew we would do something like this again so she stored.

She was right.  When I took this year off, Lana immediately began talking about getting another booth.  Over the years she had kept a relationship with Bob and Joyce by shopping and visiting the store now and then.  In the fall Bob Grills had a booth downstairs available, and Lana was opening a booth with or without me.  After some resistance, I finally gave in.  This time I am resolved to sell and not keep or buy.  If you’re downtown pay a visit to The Haggle Shop Annex on Commerce Street.  Ask Bob for Booth 81.

Booth 81 – Say “hello” to Lana!

P.S.  I just looked up the definition of haggle:  to annoy or exhaust with wrangling.  Hmm…I think that’s what Lana did to me!??!

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Pillows, Pillows, and More Pillows

This last week I’ve been sewing pillows-some for me and several for Matt’s townhouse.  First I finally covered pillows for the wicker chairs in my sewing room.  While I was sewing these pillows, I discovered some leftover fabric that I thought would look nice in our guest room.  To continue the nautical decor of the drapes I made earlier this year, I decided I could make little signal flags.  Coincidentally two of the easiest signal flags are “J” and “L”. 

I was so pleased with the signal flags that my creative mind began churning for ideas for Matt’s den.  After a fruitful quick shopping trip to Hancock’s, I had my fabric.  Next I hit TJ Maxx, Pier 1, and Ross looking for cheap feather/down pillows.  I lucked into good buys at all three stores.  Now the fun began deciding on pillow designs and colors.  I ended up making “J”, “L”, “M”, “A”, and two “T’s” to spell Matt and his initials- M, J, L.  I can hardly wait to place these on Matt’s new furniture!

As I promised in “Button, Button, Who Has the Button?”, I am posting a photo of my finished kitchen window treatment.  On my To-D0 List for this week-cover the kitchen chairs with the matching fabric of the window treatment.

Sewing Room Coastal Fabric Pillows

Signal Flag Pillows

Matt's Pillows

Kitchen Window Treatment

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Piddling, Puttering, or Productive?

I read an interesting article this week in February’s issue of Southern Living.  It was titled “The Fine Art of Piddling” in which the author defined piddling as killing time enjoyably but without great effort.  I often say “I just piddled today” and feel guilty because I didn’t feel I was productive.  I used to hate to waste time because my time was so limited.  Now that I am not teaching and do not have children at home, is it all right to piddle?  And is piddling really just wasting time?  This quote on Pinterest piqued my interest recently:  “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

This past week I have completed some projects around the house, volunteered at school, visited with friends, cleaned and cooked, exercised and piddled.  Here are some of my piddling activities this week.   We have a small garage that barely has room for two vehicles, and we are constantly squeezing each other out of our space making it difficult to maneuver.  Monday morning I was pondering the problem and thought whether I could make something to assist us in parking.  Within an hour I had constructed the following gadget constructed out of styrofoam balls, fishing line, magnets, and washers.  Take a look:

“Car Parker”

My other piddling project was a yoga mat bag.  In the middle of sewing pillows for Matt’s apartment, I noticed some fabric on my sewing table that would make a good yoga bag.  I quickly researched “sewing yoga mat bags” on the Internet and came up with dozens of patterns and directions.  I ended up using my own design.  I added pockets to carry my gym card, car keys, water bottle and cell phone.  I did not want to to sew a circular bottom because of the aggravation of making it fit considering the fabric was stiff.  I also didn’t want just a flat bag.  Earlier this week I was sewing a pillow and made the square sides and began wondering whether I could do the same thing with a circular bottom.  I just folded the bottoms into fourths and sewed across.  It really worked well.  I’ve included a picture of the bottom.

Yoga Mat Bag


Bottom of bag

 Piddling or productive, does it matter what I call it if I am enjoying?????



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“Grandmother” in Training

At the request of my niece and sister-in-law, I found myself in Nashville last weekend babysitting my four year old great-niece and almost 6 1/2  month old great-nephew.  Emily, my niece, thought that I would enjoy seeing the children and being able to visit with Betty, my sister-in-law.  Betty asked me to come as reinforcement.  Who would think  a 7 time grandmother would need help?  By Sunday Betty and I both agreed that we could certainly take care of two small children alone, but given the choice, why would you????

Kris, the daddy, was out of town on business.  Emily was leaving the next morning to attend a board meeting of her alma mater in Virginia.  This weekend would be baby Simpson’s first time away from Momma.  Oh, and I did I mention he’s still nursing?  Betty and I would only be solely responsible from Friday morning until Friday evening when Kris returned. 

Betty and I arrived late Thursday afternoon and had a pleasant evening visiting with Emily and the children.  We came armed with “activites” to keep us busy-knitting, books to read, and my IPad.  After the children went to bed, Emily sketched out Simpson’s feeding and napping schedule along with Eleanor’s preschool schedule for the next day.  She also instructed us in the fine art of baby food preparation.  Fortunately Eleanor knows her routines and food choices down pat.

Friday morning arrived bright and early, especially since I’ve gotten used to sleeping until 8 or 9 am.  Eleanor’s “alarm clock” turns green at 7 am signaling that it is ok for her to get up.  Who knows how long she’d been awake!  Simpson’s tummy wakes him up before 7 telling him it’s time to eat!  Once the day began, it didn’t stop.  It was non-stop feeding, diapering (ok, I’m exaggerating here-Betty and I are not known for wasting diapers!), rocking, holding, and checking the written schedule.  Eleanor was in preschool all day Friday, but once she came home it was entertainment time.  I had my bag of tricks, literally.  Using my friend Lana’s time honored tradition, I came with a purple bag full of toys and gadgets that were just for the weekend.  Eleanor loved it.  Betty and I tag teamed.  If one of us was taking care of the baby, the other one played with Eleanor.  I forgot to mention unloading and loading the dishwasher; it seemed to run continuously.  Thank goodness we weren’t responsbile for laundering!  Fortunately Eleanor and Simpson have wonderful parents who believe in discipline and schedules.  Both children were in bed at 7 pm and slept until the next morning. 

Sunday morning Betty and I treated ourselves to breakfast at the Frothy Monkey just down the street from Emily and Kris’ home.  We congratulated ourselves that we had enjoyable albeit tiring weekend.  Maybe my mother was right when she would say, “God knew what he was doing when he didn’t let old women have babies!”  Hmm…she forgot about Sarah, who had a baby at the ripe old age of 90, but that one’s a miracle so it doesn’t count. 

The weekend was a reminder to me of my younger days with little ones.  For me those days were a magical period of time even if it was tiring and at times stressful.  I was honored that Emily and Kris entrusted me with their children’s care, and I would happily do it again.  By the way, lest you think we brought our knitting needles in vain, we each finished a scarf. 

Full Tummy

Not Done...Just Resting

Toe Puppet Show (from the Purple Bag)

All Dressed for Church

A Beautiful Family

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Button, Button, Who Has the Button?

When I was at Matt’s, I finally decided on the type of window treatment I wanted to sew for my kitchen. It’s a fairly simply construction, but I needed large buttons for the decorative effect. Of course not just any button would work, so the search began. After an evening of searching the Internet and an afternoon of browsing through buttons at local stores, I was beginning to become discouraged. The button needed to be approximately an inch in size with a nautical feel, and I needed ten. A few buttons I discovered that might work ranged in price from $3-$4. Since I didn’t want to pay $30 or more on just the buttons, I struck out on all accounts.

Yesterday an idea started germinating…could I make a button? The idea of a monkey fist appealed to me, but I haven’t been very successful with that knot, plus Iwould have to make ten! My next thought was to make a button that looked like a coiled ship line. As I continued to ponder, I decided I could use the back part of covered button sets as the base and to glue coiled twine on it.

Shopping at Hobby Lobby today was a success. I found exactly 10 covered button shells in the right size and an ivory colored coiled trim in the perfect size. My total purchase, including the glue was only $16.85. The best part is that I made them this afternoon in less than an hour. Tomorrow I will cut the fabric and begin sewing. I should have them hung by the weekend.

I took pictures as I worked, and have posted them here. I cut the cord with a hotknife to prevent fraying. I determined the cord length by coiling on the button back. Next I spread the tacky glue on the button back with a toothpick. Now I can hardly wait to sew them to the window treatment. When I finish I will post more photos.

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Words with Friends

Last year I read 38 books.  My goal for this year is 50, but at over three weeks into the year, I’ve yet to finish one!  Why?  Because I am hooked on phonics-not literally, but kinda.  My new past time has become “Words with Friends” the new online scrabblesque word game that you can play with Facebook friends.

When Lana and I went to Chicago last November, Bryan introduced me to Words with Friends.  I was instantly fascinated with the game and downloaded the app to my smartphone.  Scrabble was always one of my favorite games as a child, consequently this online game appealed to me from the start.  Other online games such as the wildly acclaimed Angry Birds do not interest me in the least.  In fact I fail to understand the popularity of most video games. 

 I have pondered my response to Words with Friends and have come to the following conclusions.  First of all words interest me, especially how the letter sounds combine to create the word.  Being able to play the game on my phone means I am never bored.  Riding in the car, standing in lines at stores, waiting in doctor’s offices are all great time to play Words.  Last but not least is the relational part of the game…Word with Friends!!!  Of course I would like a game where I can play with my friends, chat with them during the game, and see their profile picture everytime I play.  🙂

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All Grown Up

You know your children are grown up when you go to visit and you think “I could live here” without having to make a Wal-Mart run to purchase a new shower curtain before you can even take a shower because the one hanging in the bathroom looks like it could grow penicillin.  And the only food in the refrigerator is week old pizza and milk with an expired date on the carton.  It’s a real sign of maturity when there are kleenex boxes positioned in various rooms, the “child” wants framed prints on the wall instead of beer posters, and there is real food in the fridge: yogurt, fresh milk, juice, and makings for sandwiches.  The last indication, but certainly not least that my son is on his way to true independence is that there is no roommate-which makes everybody happy.

Matt finally found a condo to rent two weeks ago.  James and I arranged the movers and oversaw the moving from this end.  As soon as the movers were finished, we left Kingsport at 5 pm on Saturday for Ohio.  Surprisingly the drive was not that bad.  We arrived at Matt’s new place a little under 8 hours later-just in time to blow up our bed and go to sleep.  The movers were phenomenal.  At a little after 8 am the next morning, they were in Matt’s driveway ready to unload.  We spent the next three days helping Matt unpack and settle in.  James left on Wednesday to go home.  Matt wanted me to stay and help him finish the small details-like buying den furniture! 

It was an enjoyable four days that I spent at Matt’s condo.  I slept late each morning in the guest room on a comfortable bed with real bedroom furniture.  When I finished the last bit of unpacking and hanging pictures, I enjoyed watching his 60 inch flat screen that had a bazillion channels and DVR.  You can tell when your child either has more expendable money or different priorities by their “entertainment.”  Poor Mom and Dad just recently bought a 32 inch flat screen with a basic subscription.  One of the main things I did each day was cook.  I cooked supper meals with enough to freeze for another meal for Matt when I was gone.  His kitchen has new appliances and a gas stove that cooks marvelously.  Instead of papers plates, we actually ate on dishes that were a Christmas gift from Aunt Betty and Uncle John.

Matt made a wise decision in finding and renting the condo.  With over 1300 square feet of living space, a two car garage, and the really nice updates, I could see myself living there and be quite comfortable.  The neighborhood is quite nice with clubhouse, pool, and walking trails in addition to sidewalks.  The biggest perk for Matt is snow removal which is extremely important in northern Ohio.

When I flew out of the Cleveland airport on Sunday morning, I felt very peaceful and satisfied.   Leaving Matt with purchased den furniture and a new TV stand in place plus no boxes to be unpacked, he felt settled and my job was complete.  I am finished assisting my son-NOT!  As my sister, Betty, always says, “I never realized when I became a mother, it was for the rest of my life.”  Matt and Jacob are my children to the day I die-and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photos of Matt’s Condo

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