Monday, February 16, 2015

Painting Prep and Inspirational Quotes

Originally published in The Leaf Chronicle on Feb 1, 2015

Recently, a friend asked me if I had any tricks for painting ceilings. I told her my trick is—wait for it--to get my husband to do it. (Bah dum bum—thank you folks, I’ll be here all week . . .).

Honestly though, I do hesitate to give tips for painting walls because there are so many different schools of thought for “best practices.” You’ve got techniques for painting walls, ceilings and trim—each one is likely different. I suppose that’s why there are so many products on the market for accomplishing this chore.

Some prefer using rollers, while others are masters with brushes. Myself? I prefer using paint pads for the large surface areas, but I need an angled, short-handled brush for cutting-in and the trim. Beyond that, you’d probably do better to figure-out your own tactics

My approach for painting a room is rather languid. Unless there is some sort of deadline, such as an impending visit from the President and First Lady, I will take my sweet, sweet time. I will come out of the gate going great guns, but soon as I have to exchange my brush for the paint pad or vice versa, my enthusiasm will start to wane.

My biggest hurdle however is the preparation. The patching of holes is a chore which sucks my will to continue. As it usually works for me, I tell myself that I’m going to get started painting and should be finished by the end of the day, but then I take down a picture and am reminded of the difficulty I had driving a nail into the plaster.

2015-01-20 16.39.10

(Here is a patch job done by our contractor—thank goodness!  If it had been up to me we’d still be looking at the crack.  As it was, I had to sand it and was really put-out about that—I had already prepared my paint and was ready to roll . . . or rather, “pad.”  Of course, I then remembered I had told him not to worry about sanding—I would be glad to do it.  Ugh.)

When we first moved into this house, I had a heck of time getting our numerous pictures hung. I could easily spot where they need to go and dived right in with hammer, hooks and nails only to be thwarted by the amount of plaster that was chipping away with each blow of the hammer. (Yes, I knew the nail was my intended target.)

I finally discovered the tip for putting a piece of tape on the wall where I intended to drive the nail to keep the plaster from chipping. I am, however, reminded of my early frustrations as I remove pictures from the wall in preparation for painting.

For years the pictures have hung in place—nicely camouflaging the hack job I performed on the walls. They’ve been there, quietly keeping the secret of my “old house rookie” mistakes. They do their job so well, I had forgotten about the surprises which awaited me.

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So then, my enthusiasm starts to falter as I realize I’m not going to be able to jump right into the “fun part,” as I am first required to patch the divots. Patching requires waiting for the compound to cure and by then, I’ve usually found a “cure” for my initial desire to paint.

And then there is “taping;” nothing takes the wind out of my sails like taping. A while back I shared my inspirational, Yogi-on-a-rock-in-the-middle-of-a-still-pond quote: Taping is for pessimists. And, while I stick to my optimistic guns on the frivolity of taping for most projects, I do have to acknowledge I did tape off the floor around the baseboards of my cabinets, which I recently painted. I was not about to risk black paint on my new kitchen floors—something even rose colored glasses would not be able to disguise.


(First, let me draw your attention to the black baseboards.  Doesn’t it appear as though they have always been so?   Now, get a load of that patch job—there under clock.  My first, lazy attempt was with caulk—since I had been caulking the trim and anything else you can think of.  I had to go back over it with plaster patch because the divot was so deep . . . and wide.)

Speaking of those baseboards, I have to share this with you. Years ago we painted our kitchen cabinets black. It was one of our first undertakings. At that time we were preparing for the holidays—an apparent ignition switch for me, as I tend to take on HUGE tasks just before the holidays—so time was short.

Because our floors were white AND I loathe taping AND my husband was helping (thus, we would not skip the “frivolous” step) I convinced myself that I wanted the baseboards to remain white. It was a decision I’ve regretted for 10 years, but the prospect of the prep work was debilitating, so it never got done—until now.

After our new floors were down in the kitchen, I set about scrubbing the baseboards and taping-off the floor. Our baseboards now match the cabinets (not the floor) and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Painting the Kitchen

Published, Jan 25,2015

Well, I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed our recent and brief respite from the bitter cold last weekend. We were visiting another one of Tennessee’s “top five” cities—Knoxville. Yet another gymnastics competition took us to their downtown area, too. In fact, all of Tennessee’s “top five” host these competitions—oops, make that four-and-a-half out of the five.

There is a small, pre-season competition which is hosted by Clarksville Elite, but they hold it at the Foy Fitness Center on the APSU campus. It doesn’t begin to compare to the scale and scope of the meets held in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga, though.

I just think it’s strange that a city that boast about its convenient central location, that we haven’t done something to take advantage of that location. I am sure greater minds than mine are working on it. I’ll just worry my pretty little head about domestic matters—like making hotel reservations and researching places to dine and shop while we’re attending the next event.

As for other domestic matters, I have once again tackled the less than enviable task of painting the kitchen. This is a process that was much needed, but became impossible to ignore after our recent renovations.

I don’t think I mentioned is before, but I asked Glen (our contractor for this project) move the cabinet surrounding our refrigerator about six inches to the left. It’s something I thought of a while ago, but doing so would have exposed an area of the floor which was not covered by the laminate floor that my husband and I had installed. The thought of trying to retro-fit the flooring into that exposed space was too daunting, so we waited.

We have a side-by-side refrigerator, which I normally wouldn’t have considered, but it met my single requirement: it was the largest capacity I could find which would fit into the space available. It fit, but (a little detail one should apparently consider) the door on the right hit the door jam on the adjacent wall and wouldn’t open. That’s when we came-up with the solution of removing the door jam and cutting it to a length that allowed the refrigerator door free movement—sort of. It still hit the door to the laundry room whenever we had to open it wide enough to open the crisper drawers.

Eight years of door banging had me ready to jump on this possibility of moving those cabinets when we had to replace the flooring. Glen told me it would be an easy fix, so I added it to the list. What a difference the move has made. The space we lost—to the left of the cabinet—was a concern, because I stow a rolling cart, which holds my stand mixer, there. Now it protrudes into the walkway a little more, but not enough to matter to anyone.

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The repositioned cabinets gave us more room to open the doors on the refrigerator.


The new flooring and laundry room also provided an opportunity to make a few more changes to the space, too. I brought home a piece of furniture I had in Hodgepodge, but had been keeping in storage; it was always one of my favorite pieces and, consequently, I didn’t discount it when I closed shop. (My subconscious mind obviously had plans for it.)

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2015-02-05 18.21.17

My subconscious desire—the black bookcase/cupboard.

So, I told you all of that to tell you this: I started painting the kitchen again. When I moved the white cabinet from the kitchen into the laundry room, I took that opportunity to paint the wainscoting, trim and wall before positioning the new bookcase there.

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the white cupboard in it’s new location


Fortunately, I love the color of our kitchen, so I am just going to freshen-up the look with some cleaning and the same colors. This way, I will be able to take my time—thus far proven, as I began the process just after Thanksgiving—without having to be met with an offensive contrast of colors. Of course, this could also work against me when I consider my ability to procrastinate.

One last note, since I apparently have a few things on my mind and the time on my hands to consider them . . . at length . . . I’ve decided to begin blogging again. This may not mean much to you, but it is a big thing for me. I consider it an obligation, of sorts. If you tell your readers you’re going to do something, then you need to do it. So, if you like reading about our renovation projects and general shenanigans, you may want to check it out. I will also be providing a few more photographs than space allows here in “The Leaf.” By the end of the weekend, you’ll find me at

A personal note—thank you to the friends who encouraged me to get back to my blog. I appreciate the support and confidence.

Monday, February 3, 2014

It’s Beginning to look a lot like Chaos

originally published on Dec 15, 2013 in The Leaf Chronicle

I was hoping to regale you with decorating tips and pictures of my decorated home, but alas—‘twas not to be. As author John Steinbeck penned, “The best laid schemes of mice and men . . .”

Oops! Wrong. It wasn’t Mr. Steinbeck, although I learned the quote in his novel, “Of Mice and Men,” he was actually quoting a poem written by Robert Burns. Anyhoo, the point is: plans often change or are changed for you.

My plans for the weekend changed drastically when the hard drive on my computer at the shop crashed Friday night at the close of business. No problem—it just contains all of the information vital to the operation of my shop for the past 9 years. I don’t use it much . . . just for every transactions, inventory question, social media to posts and email conversations. Naturally, after three hours on the phone with tech support and the promise of the delivery of a “recovery disc” (as if that means ANYTHING to me) within 3 – 5 business days, I took this whole event in stride.

So, after my mini-meltdown, I called my sister and asked her WWAD (What Would Angela Do?). Angela is one of our really, really smart friends who knows her way around a computer. Kendall (my sister) is usually my go to girl, but when she doesn’t know what to do—we go to Angela. When Angela doesn’t know what to do—we cry. Angela suggested calling tech support—when that didn’t work—she said, “Take it to Doghouse Computers.”

So, first thing Saturday morning, I did. They fixed it and got it back to me the same day! So, please, let that be a lesson for all of us. I am rabid about shopping local, but thought that, at 6 p.m. on a Friday night, my only option was online help. Not only did the online tech support fail me (they, in fact, promised they would have me up and running that night), but now I am fighting to get my money back. Taylor, at Doghouse, talked to me—in person—and understood my desperate situation and did everything he could to fix my computer as quickly as possible. Shop local, people—it makes a difference.

I told you all of that, so I could tell you this . . .

With my weekend compressed by my computer emergency, my plans for a big day of decorating this past Sunday turned into a big day of cleaning out the front room, which we refer to as “the parlor,” but that sounds so hoity-toity when I see it written. I had hoped to tackle this project Friday night so we could make room to relocate a table from the living room, to make room for the big tree. The parlor (said in my head with a droll British accent) was a little cluttered, as it has been the catch-all space for: inventory I’m holding onto; a college student’s “must have” bike; empty boxes from the recent bathroom re-do; a variety of ready-to-hang-but-no-wall-space-available art; and, a purgatory (of sorts) for laptops awaiting their final resting place.

The only decorating I managed was placing three trees in their designated positions—only two of which have lights on them; because that is the way I brought them home from my shop! The big tree in the living room gets a minimum of 1,000 new lights each year. I leave that tree on 24 hours per day and do not bother storing light strings that have had a minimum of 700 hours of use. When I used to reuse lights, I’ve had them go out, a string at a time, throughout the month of December—not doing that again.

My youngest daughter helped by bringing down some of the boxes while I was at the shop. She even arranged my Santa and nutcracker collections. That was a huge help due to all of the unwrapping involved in those chores.

As I plan my attack for the rest of the décor, I have found myself wondering what, if anything, I can “skip” this year. I probably won’t decorate the cabinet tops with all of the fresh greenery I’ve used in the past. I may also skip the vintage tinsel tree in the dining room . . . especially since I’ve added a new tree at the base of the stairs. Nah—who do I think I’m kidding? The tinsel tree will probably go up tonight, while I’m helping my decorating elf with her homework. It’s only about 4 feet tall—the tree, not the decorating elf; I adorn it with vintage ornaments in shades of aqua and pink—the elf, not the tree . . . (rimshot, please).

I have one more chance to share some decorating ideas with you next week. You know better than to hold your breath though.

The Final Countdown!

originally published in The Leaf Chronicle on Dec 8, 2013

My mind is a total blank. It’s a few weeks before Christmas and I can’t think of a thing to share with you. That’s a lie. I can think of things I want to share, but my mother raised me better than that, so I probably shouldn’t.

My mind is a jumble of all the things I need to accomplish in order to close my shop in less than two weeks. (I’m trying to control myself as a mild panic sets in and I double check the calendar—yup, less than two weeks. YIKES!) All while everyone around me seems to be decorating for Christmas.

While I was working on my computer the other night, I looked around the house, wondering when I will find the time to decorate our house. I may be able to start today (not the day I am writing, but the day you are reading); then again, I may just sit in my chair and stare at the television. At the moment, I’m leaning towards “just sitting.”

Perhaps I can do it in baby steps, just tackling one room at a time. The only problem with this plan is that it is highly probable that I wasn’t quite that organized in my packing last year. Wouldn’t it be great to pull out a box and it only contains the decorations for the living room? The next box would have only the assembly items for the stairwell décor. However, it is much more likely I’ll pull out the box with the greenery for the stairwell and have to stop after I put the lights on to find the ribbon, which is likely in the bottom of another storage bin—under the nutcrackers or the Santa collection.

I guess I will have to resign myself that it will be a long, drawn out process with stuff strewn all over the house. After all, why should this year be any different? I think, because my shop is such a mess as I try to organize and pack 9 years of accumulation, I am reluctant to turn the house upside down, as well.

Several friends and family have told me I shouldn’t bother decorating the house or perhaps I shouldn’t do as much as I usually do. I can’t help but wonder if they really mean that. I mean, they know me well enough to be referred to as “friends and family,” so you’d think they’d know I can’t not do it all.

This year may be a bit of a challenge, but it’ll happen and I’ll be glad it did.

By the way, as I finished typing this, my neighbor, Ryan, just texted me that he’s done decorating his entire house—he puts me shame with the amount of stuff he does! He may just lose a few bulbs out of his light strings tonight . . .

Creating a New (Accidental) Tradition

originally published in The Leaf Chronicle on Dec 1, 2013.

As I am writing this, the dressing is waiting in the crock pots, the pies are cooling on the sideboard and the cranberry sauce is at the ready. Mom is rending the meat of the baked sweet potatoes from their skins and preparing to top them with dried cranberries and almonds. All is (mostly) right in my world. I am, however, a day behind in composing my column and not even sure they will be able to insert it in the Living section, but feel compelled to sit down to write.

I love preparing meals for the holidays—almost more than eating them. I enjoy planning menus and table settings; I love cooking. Yup—pretty much the entire process ranks rather high on my list of things I like to do. The funny thing about Thanksgiving preparations though, is that—although a month separates them—they go hand-in-hand with Christmas planning.

As I prepare my menu for Thanksgiving, I am conscious of the fact that I will be preparing similar offerings for the Christmas meal(s). With a collection of more than fifty cookbooks, one might think there is no way duplicates should even be offered, but it’s difficult to not fall back on the tried and true. I like to experiment with new recipes, especially when we are entertaining, but have not venture too far from my standard menus for the past few years.

One new development I noticed yesterday was when I was rifling through my cookbooks to find a recipe I typically use; Mom opened the kitchen cabinet to look at the notes from last year’s menu. I know they are there, but it just occurred to me how helpful that is. (Evidence that my inability to throw things away is, in fact, borderline brilliance—it’s not the cure for cancer, but will aid my sanity.)

If you open the cabinet door where I keep my spices, you will find the notes and menu plans for the week of Christmas 2012, just under the plans for Thanksgiving 2013. I think most of us write out our menus for special events like this. Ours has notes about who will be preparing which dishes and which Southern Living Annual Recipes book contains the Bourbon and Chocolate Pecan Pie (it’s 1998, by the way).

Notes like these have already proven useful this year, but I think there are added benefits.

For instance, when I say things such as, “You know, I would like to try cooking a beef tenderloin for Christmas,” and my mother looks at me like I’ve got lobsters coming out of my ears, she will be able to back-up her “are you nuts” look with my own hand written menu from 2011 as evidence. (For your amusement, I will confess that this memory lapse actually happened last year, all expect for the “evidence;” we don’t have that menu taped to the cabinet. The fact remains, however that I completely forgot having prepared a beef tenderloin—a cut of meat which is to dang expensive to forget!)

So, through happenstance, I’ve decided this will be a new tradition for the King Kompound. I will now purposely keep these notebook pages taped to the insides of cabinet for two years. After which they will be retired to a page protector in my black three-ring recipe binder, for posterity and reference. My kids will likely never need/want to reference them, but I like to think they might. I know I’d love to have something like that from my mother, but at least I’m making these memories with her.

I hope you enjoy (and remember) your menu planning this holiday season.

collection of menus

Plenty of Blessings at Thanksgiving

originally published on Nov 23, 2013 in The Leaf Chronicle

I’ll start this column by saying thank you to all of the kind and concerned patrons of Hodgepodge, whom also demonstrate distinguishable intelligence by reading The Leaf Chronicle, for their inquiries regarding whether or not I would continue writing for this fine publication. The foreseeable future does include a weekly column written by yours truly, but I will encourage you to share your appreciation for the journaling of my antics with my editors—all persons I regard with the highest esteem.

As this column will appear a few short days prior to my favorite holiday, I thought I’d share a little about our holiday plans. Like the menu, there will be only minor variances from years prior. For instance, I started discussing the menu with my mother and eldest daughter the other night. I suggested a possible change from my regular offering of my mushroom and sausage dressing—which I’ve been serving for nigh on 20 years (argh! I should not have done the math . . .)—and was met with hesitation. Neither of them wanted to stomp my new idea, but they had apparently been looking forward to the old standard and, to be honest, so am I. The new rice dressing will have to wait for a less momentous occasion.

In a recent column I told you about my cousin’s approach of serving her Thanksgiving meal in courses, which I think is a fabulous idea—yet will not come to fruition at the King Kompound this year. I don’t think this is the year to implement changes—we have enough to contend with at the moment.

I did say, however, I won’t make my pumpkin bread pudding this year. The request has been submitted for basic, everyday (but not at my house), run-of-the-mill pumpkin pies, which I happen to love. I haven’t made a pumpkin pie in years! Anyhoo, as I was flipping through a magazine this morning, I saw a recipe for a Double Chocolate Bread Pudding with a Coffee Caramel Sauce and my mouth began to water. I’m thinking bread pudding will make an appearance, but in a slightly different form this year.

I am still considering the table setting, but I know it will involve my Johnson Brother’s Friendly Village dishes. Last year, I used some wheat bthanksgiving table 2012undles I had arranged as the focal point for the table, but the moths really liked them, so I had to toss them (in the picture). I have a cotton bowl garland and couple oat standards I made which will likely anchor this year’s display.

The challenge of our dining room table is its—umm—rustic condition. We bought it from Carolyn Robinson at Traditions when we first moved to Clarksville. I believe she said it had been in a break room at factory in Nashville; I could’ve made that up, but I’ve been telling folks the same story for years, so it has to be true by now. We absolutely love this table! The top is constructed of two wide, thick oak boards that have been pocked by cigarette burns and numerous other assaults. Where the two boards meet in the middle, there is a little ridge which keeps me from displaying anything with a flat bottom in the center of the table—everything wobbles. I generally have to use displays with feet that will straddle the ridge. Sometimes, I slip a coaster or some other shim-like device under the tablecloth to stabilize the chosen centerpiece, as I did last year.

Oh well, the world is full of challenging situations which perplex us to no end. My dining table centerpiece will not bring about world peace or the end of starvation in the Sudan. So as we gather around our table—wobbly centerpiece and all—I will be praying for the same and giving thanks for the many, many blessings the King family enjoys. Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall Fluff

originally published in The Leaf Chronicle on Nov 17, 2013.

Please tell me my calendar is wrong. Please tell me I did not lose two weeks of my life-especially at such a critical time in my life. As I told my husband the other day, I feel like I went to sleep on the 28th of October and woke-up mid-November.

By “critical time in my life,” I am pretty sure you think I’m referring to the announcement that we are closing Hodgepodge, but actually, I am talking about the holidays. I mean, I live for this stuff! What a time to have to be worried about the nuts and bolts of wrapping-up nearly a decade of boutique ownership.

I wonder how your preparations are progressing. Did you print a check list? Did you laugh your way to the recycling bin, with my column in hand? I have to admit, I haven’t figured out my preparation timeline yet, but I am looking forward to my favorite holiday and enjoying time with family.

As you read this, my sister, Kendall, is (hopefully) on her way here with my mother riding shotgun. Her infinite number of bags and boxes neatly packed in the trunk and backseat for her extended winter visit. I’m giddy! I love it when she comes to visit. I enjoy sharing our days, making plans for my occasional days off—heck—just having someone to plan meals with is fun!

I finally took down my Halloween decorations and am slowly beefing-up the Thanksgiving vignettes throughout the house. After my column last week, I noticed I use a lot of faux and dried florals through the fall and winter. There are several reasons for this additional fluff.

First, we’re in the house more; during the spring and summer we’re outside, enjoying Mother Nature. There is no need for the addition of flowers inside and if there is, I can grab some from outside.

Second, the dried and silk flowers help cozy-up the place, which isn’t needed during the summer months. We’ve found that is true of vignettes at the shop, too. If we work on a display, but are not completely satisfied with it, we usually add some flowers, a leafy branch or vine and the look is completed. Sometimes, however, too much is too much (profound, eh?). You don’t want to add so much of the stuff that the focal point is obscured.

Third, I prefer fall/winter fakes to spring/summer fakes; for some reason they are more convincing. Or is it that they are less offensive? I can’t decide which. My decorating palette definitely reflects the colors of fall, so that is likely the primary reason. They are well-suited to my décor, so they look better.

Finally, the faux berries, leaves and flowers don’t shed. I think I’ve mentioned how much my husband loves it when I start bringing the real stuff inside—because I do plenty of that, too. His favorite of favorites has to be Nandina berries. Nothing makes him happier than finding the “suicide berries” (those that choose not to hang-on for the slow, inevitable death) all over the floor, table or counter. Since my single goal in life is to make my husband happy—I guess this is the best reason.

fall fluff arrangement

My most recent addition to our fall fluff.