Monday, November 24, 2014

The Evolution of a Writer's Room Part Five {it's the little things}

{go to Part One - Space & Paint}
{go to Part Two - Furniture}

My home is not a home of pretty doors - it is a home of functional, cheap doors, most of which are hollow core {hollow bore if you ask me!}.

The door to my writing room is no exception.  Yawn.

During the process of planning and painting, I mentioned to my sister that I was looking for a pretty door knob.

"Like an old glass one?" she asked.

Exactly like an old glass one!

And it just so happened that she had one lying around her house, taken off a door they removed once upon a time.  And it just so happened that she was willing to part with it for the whopping price of a cup of hot chocolate.

It was DIRTY! Like a century of grime and grossness.  Like one hundred years of dead skin cells.  This thing was a crime scene!

how to clean a dirty doorknob with sandpaper & toothpaste

My first step was disassembling it and giving it a good cleaning.  Which did nothing, as you can see in the photo's above.

Remembering that my other sister used to clean her flute with toothpaste, I grabbed a near-empty tube and set to work, smearing it all over the dirty surfaces and then rubbing it off with a rag.

how to clean a dirty doorknob with sandpaper & toothpasteThis took a lot of the thick build-up off.  I followed that up with some aggressive sanding and then repeated the toothpaste step for a finishing shine.

Weird?  I know.  But it worked!

Because I wasn't putting this knob on a good, thick, solid door, I was unable to use the internal mechanism that allows it to lock so when I first attached it and saw that white door paint shining through the lock opening I thought - LAME! So I undid the bottom screw, twisted the plate to the side and drew a black box with a sharpie.  Maybe it's not 'the right' solution but it's good enough for me!

how to fake a door lock



It's such an improvement from the plain-old-jane kind of knob that was there before.  Like a little piece of jewellery for my door!

I also went one step further and attached an old window to the door.  In theory it was a good idea.  In reality, I really kind of hate it.  I'm not even sure why.  Maybe it's the scale.  Maybe because it just looks like I attached a window to a cheap door.  But I'm kind of stuck with it now.  If I take it down I'll be staring at four holes in my door.  I figure the window is the lesser evil.  

how to make a hollow core door into a pretty door

So my new mission is to find a lovely paneled number that will fit the door hole to which I can still attach my pretty glass knob - perhaps with it's full fittings.  I've been keeping my eyes open.

Small changes make a difference!  From painting one wall to changing a doorknob! The possibilities are huge.

 
{p.s. November is National Novel Writer's Month and I have joined a global community of crazies who have made a commitment to write every day with a goal of 50,000 words between November 1 and 30. Come on over here if you're interested in seeing how I'm doing...}

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Evolution of a Writer's Room {Part Four - Walls & Things}

Evolution of a Writer's Room
{go to Part One - Space & Paint}
{go to Part Two - Furniture}

A room is four walls.  Four walls + one room = loads of opportunity to make it pretty.

I spent about two weeks surrounded by my Powdered Donut White and it was fresh and bright {as bright as a tiny room with a tiny window can get} but I got bored FAST. And some of the imperfections in the walls were really beginning to annoy me. {Not only was this my childhood bedroom but later on it became my father's office - in fact, it was within these very walls that he wrote Muninn's Keep [which one reviewer hailed as 'The Bourne Identity meets The Lord of the Rings'] -  he had filled the walls with shelves and they now bear the scars of those years despite my best efforts to fill the holes and sand the rough patches.} So I wanted a distraction from the distraction of rough walls.

I settled on a hand painted treatment.  One colour. One wall. A one inch wide craft brush.  {The inspiration came from here.}

The Evolution of a Writer's Room {Part 4 - Walls & Things} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

This was so easy and so forgiving. I started in one corner and worked my way to the other side painting stout, random strokes - the only rule was that no stroke could be directly beside, above, or below another.

The Evolution of a Writer's Room {Part 4 - Walls & Things} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
The whole process took less than an hour.

As I finished, Noa came wandering in and said, "Whoa...what?  When did you get wallpaper?" 

Which was a small victory because that was the look I wanted.

It has changed the whole feeling of the room - made it a much more interesting space - more personal and inspiring somehow.

I'll admit, I was a little nervous when I started because I wasn't sure if I'd love it...I'm glad that got flipped on it's head!

I considered moving on to the other walls {for about fourteen seconds} but I think it would be much too busy for a place intended for working.

The Evolution of a Writer's Room {Part 4 - Walls & Things} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

To fill a lonely space on the wall beside, I took an old mirror that used to be attached to my dining room sideboard, sanded it, dry brushed it with my white wall colour and voila - it became a white-board {of a sorts} to write inspirational messages to myself.

The Evolution of a Writer's Room {Part 4 - Walls & Things} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

The Evolution of a Writer's Room {Part 4 - Walls & Things} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

The Evolution of a Writer's Room {Part 4 - Walls & Things} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
{The lighting washed it out but the mirror says, "First drafts don't have to be perfect - they just have to be written." A little NaNoWriMo motivation for me.}

There you have it - how I jazzed up my wall. The full reveal is coming soon but first I have to tell you all about my door knob! Come back on Monday for Part Five - It's The Little Things.

{p.s. November is National Novel Writer's Month and I have joined a global community of crazies who have made a commitment to write every day with a goal of 50,000 words between November 1 and 30. Come on over here if you're interested in seeing how I'm doing...}

Sunday, November 16, 2014

In Which I Discover a Portal to Western Canada & Narrowly Escape Death at the Hand of an Axe Murderer

Everyone forgets how to drive that first bad day of bad weather.

The ground was wet earlier in the day but then the mercury fell and suddenly everything is ice and no one knows how to navigate it.  Traffic is crawling.  It's nearly 9 pm and all I want is to be home, wearing jogging pants, and eating bonbons.


The row of cars stretches out ahead of me, now at a dead stop.  There must be an accident ahead.  I wait in the line, red brakes punctuating the night like lonely Christmas lights on a forgotten planet.

No one moves.  The clock creeps forward.  Has there ever been a night darker than this?

I weigh my options.  Blake Shelton is singing a sad song from the radio. There's no way of knowing how long we might all be stuck here in this endless line of waiting.  I crank my wheel and pull into the opposite lane, heading back the way I came - slowly.  Because we haven't put on our snow tires yet.  Because we're fools.

I take the first right and intend to take the next side road north, miss whatever is blocking the highway, coming out beyond it close to home and no worse for wear.

Seriously, has there ever been a darker night?

I think our headlights need cleaning.  The high beams barely break through the black which seems to float down and consume the car.  I miss the first road.  I don't even see the sign until I'm already passing it.

Not a big deal, right?  The next road will go to the same place, right?  Right?!

So I take it.

It's okay for a minute.  I pass a driveway on the left and a field access on the right.  The road slowly narrows.  The trees pull closer.  The darkness, which I'd been sure was total before, becomes thicker and more ominous.  Snow covers the road but I'm no longer sure it is a road.  There is no colour.  The car lights cut ahead of me, looking as weak as a poor campers flashlight. 

There's no way this is a road!

But my head tells me it has to meet up with the main road at some point. 

A towering pile of logs stretches out beside me, unstripped branches scratching the car and sounding like fingernails.

I've just traveled through a portal that's slammed me down in the middle of a British Columbian logging company!

I bounce in and out of huge ruts.  More piles of logs creep up beside me.  I think I've been driving for three hours.

I follow the curves as they wind to the left and right and I think I should turn back but I just know the real road has to be right up ahead.

I see red lights as I round a deep turn, spilling out on the snow so that they almost look pink.  I slow to a crawl.  There's a truck up there.  I stop 100 meters back.  It's not moving.  The road is too narrow to fit around them.

I tap the wheel and bite my lips and "I don't know...I don't know," and it doesn't matter that I'm talking to myself because no one is there to call me crazy.

The brake lights start flashing.  Is it a message?

Tap tap taaaap.

It either means 'Help me, I'm stuck!' or 'Come here, little girl and I'll show you my chainsaw!'

Tap tap tap taaap tap.

I feel a cool wave of panic.  What if-?  {The blessing and curse of a writer is a ridiculously overactive imagination.}

I flip the car into reverse and pull back into a wider area of the 'road', turning myself around and getting away from those flashing lights as fast as I can.

It's highly possible that I'm abandoning some poor woman who bottomed out in the massive ruts and is now weeping as the headlights she thought were her salvation disappear back where they came from.

It's also possible that I just escaped a trap that lured me into an axe murderer's creepy forest portal...

It takes forever to find the end of the road.  The same reaching branches scratch me as I pass them a second time.  Two deer wander out and stare at me.  Move deer! I'm running for my life here! {If they only realized what was going to happen to their big buck of a cousin only three days later at the hands of this very same car they would either move a heck of a lot faster or they'd stand on their hind legs and slam their hooves through the windshield and into my throat in a huge pre-revenge plot.}

I stop to take a picture because I have enough sense to think I'll probably want to tell this story and when I finally reach the end I see a large post covered in signs that say things like 'No Winter Maintenance Beyond This Point' and 'Warning! Logging Operation'.

Thanks a lot over-labelled road!  Your signs mean nothing in this pit-of-hell-darkness.


{Contrary to what you may think, this is not a still from a horror movie - this is where I found myself - this is what it looked like - and the blur of the photograph perfectly represents my frantic state of mind as I navigated this experience.}

I take the next northern road.  It is actually a road.  It even has a few lights.  And houses.  And signs possessing that rare magic that causes my headlights to reflect off them, making them beautifully visible.

It is the wrong road.  Again.

It twists and turns and takes me well beyond my own destination to the little village that lies just beyond our home.

I am annoyed and flustered when I finally come through the door.

"How was that?" my husband asks, on his way to the fridge to top up his Pepsi.

"Well, I didn't die," I say.


{p.s. November is National Novel Writer's Month and I have joined a global community of crazies who have made a commitment to write every day with a goal of 50,000 words between November 1 and 30. Come on over here if you're interested in seeing how I'm doing...}

{p.p.s. I will tell that deer story later and you're going to want to come back for it because it includes such glamorous moments as side-of-the-road-peeing and the child that said, "Hey, remember that time we hit a llama?" - but right now I have 1,604 words to write if I'm going to stay on top of the Nano challenge.  I'll see ya when I see ya!}

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Evolution of a Writer's Room {Part Three - Soft Things}

{go to Part One - Space & Paint}
{go to Part Two - Furniture}


You can fill a room with all kinds of beauty but if all of it is hard how can you relax? Incorporating softness was a really important component to creating a comfortable, inviting, and inspiring room.


1. Area rug. My husband works at a treatment center for delinquent youth with mental health issues and they often receive donations from company's trying to fulfill their philanthropic goals. Pottery Barn is one of them. Often there is so much donated that it can't be used and it gets stored away in an attic or barn until someone can decide what to do with it.  Two rugs had been stored in the barn loft for far too long before we kindly rescued them from their squalor.  One quickly made it's home in our basement family room and the other has waited patiently for the moment I decided to tackle this room and give it a home.

The 5x7 jute rug fits the area perfectly!

2. Curtains. I don't need to tell this story again {If you missed it you can catch it on the last Thrift Blitz} but curtains are a simple way to lend instant softness to a space.  I grabbed a curtain rod from the Dollar Store - you can seriously find anything there! - gave them a good once-over with the iron and hung them. Simple and lovely!

3. Homemade Throw. Not only a great way to pull some new colour in but it's practical too for a chilly day. {Also featured on Thrift Blitz}

4. Pillows. Throw pillows come in all sizes, colours and styles. The owl pillow was a birthday present a few years ago and I LOVE it - I think it's so cute - and the red one is a pillow cover from, you guessed it, the Dollar Store. One of them lives on my comfy corner chair and the other is softening the back of my desk chair which, for now, is just an old dining chair.

What are your favorite 'soft things' to include when you decorate a room?

Come back on Monday for Part Four - Walls and Things

{p.s. November is National Novel Writer's Month and I have joined a global community of crazies who have made a commitment to write every day with a goal of 50,000 words between November 1 and 30. Come on over here if you're interested in seeing how I'm doing...}

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Being Extraordinary

{edited from the archives} 
{photo by Stephanie Rusnak}

Life gets to a point where everything is reduced to Mommy Do.  Breakfast.  Lunches.  Dinner. Toilets.  It's easy to lose yourself, drowning in the ordinary every day and missing out on the colour. 

Because it is there. Colour.  I just wasn't seeing it past the piles of dirty dishes in the sink or the laundry I didn't have time to do or that spot by the fridge where my sock stuck to the floor because Liam spilled the juice when he thought he was strong enough to pour his own.

When I started writing it down it was more for the discipline of writing than because I thought I had anything worth saying but, in taking that moment to record a moment, something beautiful began to happen.  

I began to see.  Really see.  

I live an extraordinary life, so saturated in colour that it strains the lines and drips rainbow dollops of dye onto anyone that gets close enough to care.  

What I was mistaking for dull was just a misunderstanding - a temporary blindness.  Because behind it all I'm living in this little blue house bursting with love and laughter and frustrations and LIFE and to anyone looking in this is a thing to be coveted.

I am often asked why I share so much of our lives. Why I put it all out there - the good and the bad. 

And this is my answer: 

Because every drowning parent needs to take a moment and come up for air - to look at what surrounds them and thank God that they are so lucky. 

If something I share causes one person to pause and appreciate what's right in front of them, then I am making a difference by sharing my life here.

There will never be enough time in the day to get it all done - to have a spotless house and make sure the kids don't have chocolate on their chins before you go to the grocery store - but there is time for thankfulness and for remembering and for reminding yourself that you are anything but ordinary in the midst of what feels like anything but extraordinary.


{p.s. November is National Novel Writer's Month and I have joined a global community of crazies who have made a commitment to write every day with a goal of 50,000 words between November 1 and 30. Come on over here if you're interested in seeing how I'm doing...}

Monday, November 10, 2014

Does NaNoWriMo Make Me A Bad Mother? {and other important questions}

{I know I promised that today would be the next part of my writer's room reveal but frankly, I've been missing blogging and now that I'm more than a week deep into this NaNoWriMo craziness, I thought it only appropriate to let you know how things are going. I've rescheduled the room reveal post for Thursday.}

does #NaNoWriMo make me a bad mother & other important questions - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
There is a nagging little demon who wields nagging little barbs like angry q-tips that he grinds against my hearts ear. {How's that for incredible imagery?} 'You're being selfish! You're ignoring your children! You're a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mother!'

This is the truth: 

There's a stack of laundry on my bed that has needed folding for eight days.

I haven't done the dishes since Wednesday.

We have eaten take-out food four times in the last week.

I am short on sleep and high on inspiration.

I work four days a week outside the home. On top of my regular work hours I've given hours to lead worship at my church, delivered a charming{ish} speech at a special dinner banquet, taken my children to their mid-week programs, and kept them bathed, fed, schooled, and kissed every single day.

Does NaNoWriMo make me a bad mother?

Heck no!

Perhaps they don't get the amount of attention they're used to. Perhaps I don't sit with them at the end of the day to watch some mindless television nonsense. But what is happening is an ongoing dialogue...

"How's your novel going, Mommy?"
"Are you going to publish it when your done?"
"How many words did you write today, Mom?"
"How many now?...Now?...Now?"

I am amazed at how interested they are and it's fun to bring up my stats sheet and show them how I'm doing and whether or not I'm keeping up.

I am teaching them a lot through this process. They're seeing what dedication can accomplish and somehow they understand and accept that this is 'just something mommy has to do' and they seem proud of me.

They are not neglected by this project - they are my partners in it!
 
 {Noa has taken to doing her reading while I'm writing, sitting quietly and pretty in the corner as I work.}

Is it hard?

Um...yeah!

I have a target of 1667 words per day in order to reach the 50,000 word goal by the end of the month. It's tough to get started each day when I sit down but I've found that if I end the day before in the middle of a thought I have a place to pick up from and it seems to flow easier.  

This is a completely new approach to writing that's both exhilarating and terrifying.  I have this {bad?} habit of editing my way through a project, sometimes spending hours on one little scene before moving on. The pressure of NaNo makes my normal approach impossible.  Write now - edit later.  It is a month without using the 'delete' button and that's a huge adjustment for me.  It's becoming clear to me why I've gotten stuck so often in the past - why I have incomplete manuscripts lying around. This is teaching me to set aside my inner perfectionist and just get the ideas out of me and if they're not perfect {or even barely mediocre} oh well - editing comes in December.

What am I writing about?

I began the month thinking I knew the story I was writing exactly. Silly me! By the end of the first day it became very clear that what I was writing was very different than what I had planned and right now I have no idea where it's headed but it's going to be fun getting there! 

My main inspiration is from the old hymn 'The Church In The Wildwood' which just so happens to be the working title. Things got a little creepy right off the hop but I'm hoping I'll be able to bring it back around in the end with some kind of redemptive message. {Fingers crossed!}

You can read an early excerpt here but please remember - it's unedited and very very raw.  I'd love to hear your first impressions so please don't be shy in sharing your thoughts with me.

What does NaNoWriMo smell like?

I'm so glad you asked! In a word? Delicious! 


I bought this mason jar candle right before the month began and it's making my writing space extra cozy and comforting. 

If I was really being authentic to the tale I am writing I should be burning a candle that smells like the forest because much of my action is happening in the woods but I just can't help but think of that slimy boy I went on one date with who had an evergreen air fresher hanging from his car's rear-view mirror - not exactly the kind of inspiration I'm looking for.

Day 10 is calling my name and I have 1065 words to write in order to keep on track. Here's hoping I can double it - Monday is my day off after all.

{p.s. A cup of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) for whoever sends me a drawing of the demon and his angry q-tip!}

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Evolution of a Writer's Room {Part Two - Furniture}

{Have you read Part One yet? Click on over there first!}

One of the most important pieces of this project was to spend as little money as possible. Sure, I like beautiful things, and I'd love to be able to purchase whatever I wanted because there are so many things that would be perfect for what I'm trying to create.

BUT, selfish space or not - this is a project that needs to be budget-wise.  So big things - furniture things - need to cost a big fat ZERO.

I had a list of what I wanted to include as I searched through what I already owned:

1. A desk
2. A book shelf or cabinet
3. A comfy chair for reading/tea breaks
4. A side table 

And guess what?! I found them all!

Where there's a will, there's a way!

1. A desk The first kitchen table we ever bought was a $25 steal from a liquidators warehouse in Barrie fourteen years ago. It had a good life, served many meals, saw many crafts and cracks, and ended up with it's legs detached, leaning against the back wall of the barn.  

I rescued it. Pulled it back together again. Painted it with the same paint I put on the walls.

The Evolution of a Writer's Room (Part Two - Furniture} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

And all was perfect until I tried to use it and realized that everything I set down on it was sticking to the finish and marking it up. SO I pulled out the five gallon pail of white cabinet paint, gave it two more coats PLUS a hearty helping of a sealer and Voila! I have a desk!

The Evolution of a Writer's Room (Part Two - Furniture} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

2. A book shelf or cabinet When we moved here, many things were left behind. {I'm not complaining - I've made good use of almost everything!} 

This cabinet was one of the abandoned:

The Evolution of a Writer's Room (Part Two - Furniture} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
It has lived in the laundry room, housing towels and toiletries,  where it looked great against the 'New Penny' orange walls BUT I decided it would make a perfect bookshelf. After reorganizing the laundry room/bathroom situation, I brought the cabinet up the stairs {I'm a tank! - in case you forgot} and placed it in my white room.

Yawn!

Poor thing needed colour. Pronto!

I pulled out my leftover kitchen paint {Cranberry Whip by Behr Premium Plus} and got to work.

It always amazes me how such a simple thing can make such a huge transformation.  I am loving my 'new' cabinet!
The Evolution of a Writer's Room (Part Two - Furniture} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

3. A comfy chair for reading/tea breaks The story of my comfy chair brings us back a year to the cleaning out of the church shed. Things accumulate there and things need to be cleared out from time to time. I selflessly volunteered to take this old piece off their hands.  It hadn't sold in the annual garage sale and there was no way I was going to see it tossed in a dumpster - it was perfectly perfect! So {with the blessing of a pastor-in-charge, of course} I stuffed it in the back of the station wagon and happily brought it home.

The Evolution of a Writer's Room (Part Two - Furniture} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
{I'm going to share about that wall treatment in a later episode - stay tuned!}

4. A side table  My brother-in-law found some old traveling crates in his work shed that he passed along to us, thinking the rock-n-roll hubby might be able to use them for lugging gear back and forth to gigs. He probably could use them for that - but I've re-purposed them as little tables and they seem to do the job just fine!

The Evolution of a Writer's Room (Part Two - Furniture} SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

It's a small room. It doesn't need a lot and with what I've found I've managed to create a really cozy space that I love spending time in - away from the distractions of a messy kitchen or noisy television.

Come back on Monday for Part Three - Soft Things

{p.s. November is National Novel Writer's Month and I have joined a global community of crazies who have made a commitment to write every day with a goal of 50,000 words between November 1 and 30. Come on over here if you're interested in seeing how I'm doing...}

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