Dear Blog,

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Please forgive me for neglecting you for weeks on end. It's nothing against you, I promise. Graduations, family in town, bridal showers, and life in general have gotten between us - but I promise I'll be back soon!

Until then... much love,


Another hidden treasure.

Monday, May 11, 2009

So I never intended for this to become a Do-It-Yourself blog or an ongoing tribute to thrifting (though these are some of my favorite topics).

But I had to share something else.

Yesterday after church, Shawn and I were with Mama and Papa Newby and decided to stop by a thrift store nearby. We rummaged through some dishes and didn't really see anything, so we headed downstairs to the "clearance" section. It reminded us of going into someone's garage. Low ceilings, tons of dusty furniture, golf clubs, mattresses, and beat up chairs.

We've been looking for a side table for a new couch we just bought, and I found one I really liked, but it was sitting under two other pieces of furniture. I called Shawn over and he took the other furniture off of it so we could take a look. It had so much potential, in my optimistic opinion.

Shawn saw a cord hanging from it and as we opened the lid of the table, we discovered a sewing machine! What?!

We called over an employee to ask the price, and he looked at the table with the machine out and said, "I'll take 35."

I'm sure the look on my face was sheer joy. Shawn tried to play it cool and said, "Ok, we'll think about it." Turns out, Papa and Shawn worked him down to $27 and the "sold" sticker was promptly placed on our new piece.

When we brought it home and took a closer look, we realized that the sewing machine is in perfect working order. Even the light inside the machine works!

These were all taken pre-cleanup. I'll be sure to post the "after" photos soon.

We pulled out some dusty papers and saw the 1978 original receipts, a full manual for the machine, about 15 unopened sewing machine needles, 10 or 15 bobbins with different colored thread, extra feet for the machine, an unopened sewing machine cover, and some tools. It's a Brother, which is apparently a pretty good brand.

I cleaned it up a bit, threaded the machine, changed the needle and the foot, and began to sew a scrap piece of fabric. It worked flawlessly! So far, I have already sewed a pillow, and can't wait to do more!

One of my favorite parts is that it folds back into the table and you can't even tell there's a full sewing machine inside.

Last summer, I spent a few days with my Grandma (a career seamstress and sewing genius) to learn to sew. I learned so much from her and really enjoyed sewing, but didn't have a machine, or a place for one.

So when we went into the thrift store looking for a table, God chose to fulfill a desire I hadn't even expressed. I had, all along, wanted a sewing machine too and He knew that. I just had no idea I'd get the perfect table and the machine for $27!

I plan to sand and paint the table either white or light blue and change the knobs, and it will look as good as new! I'll be sure to post photos when it's done.

If you're not a believer in thrift store shopping, I hope this encourages you to give it a try. For whatever reason, people discard perfectly good items and with a little love, they can be redeemed. Ok, now I'm using theological terms about thrift store finds. I should go sew something now.

For our Mom.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dear Mom,

Kelsey and I are, without argument, the luckiest girls in the world to have you as our Mom. Since we're both away from you on Mother's Day this year, we wanted to let you (and whoever else reads this) know a few of our very favorite memories as well as some things we really admire about you.

Kelsey: Although Mom and I have lots of great memories together, one of my favorites is when she and I went to New York City for a few days during spring break two years ago. We saw lots of the big attractions: a show at Carnegie Hall, a service at Brooklyn Tab, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, etc., and yet my favorite memory of the trip happened at a lesser-known locale. It was absolutely freezing during our days there, and one afternoon we ducked into a random hotel just to warm up for a little bit. When we went in, we noticed that this 50-story hotel had clear elevators that bulleted very quickly up and down. After watching for a few seconds, we both looked at each other with knowing glances -- we really wanted to ride these elevators. One trip to the top and back, however, was not enough. We ended up going up and down probably 5-6 times and loved every minute of it. Who needs Carnegie Hall when you can just ride elevators all afternoon? :)

Mom and Kels on our Christmas 2007 cruise

Whitney: One of my favorite recent memories would have to be Mom driving a moving truck from Nashville to Chicago with all of my belongings. I was more than happy to let her do all of the driving, and she did an incredible job, even backing in to a tiny alley near our apartment to do the unloading. My truck drivin' momma! She's a brave woman. Most of all, I was just thankful for the 9 hours I had with her to talk about the upcoming season in life.

Mom and Whit in the back of the moving truck in Wheaton, Nov. 2008

Another favorite memory of Mom (somewhat ironically) happened on Mother's Day a year or two ago. After a long day of church and entertaining house guests, we both needed some fresh air and decided to go take a walk around the Natchez Trace. We parked near the famous Natchez Trace bridge and couldn't pass up the view that it provided. After walking about halfway across the bridge, however, we saw a police car headed toward us -- slow, slower, and then at a stop right beside us. The window rolled down. "Do you know it's illegal to walk across the bridge?" he said. "Oh, really? We're sorry, we were just taking a walk," we claimed. "I'm going to need you guys to get in the car and I'll drive you back to where you came from," came the reply. We climbed into the back of the police car (with subtle smiles) and he did, indeed, drive us back to our car. Laughter came when he finally pulled away, and the famous mantra of that Mother's Day became "Nothing says Happy Mother's Day like a ride in the back of a police car."

One of my favorite moments on my wedding day was getting packed into the back seat of our car with my dress delicately poofed out around me as Mom drove me to the church to see my groom. I couldn't fit in a seatbelt, so I clung to the two front seats as she cautiously drove us to the church. Neither of us could believe this was all really happening, and she asked me through tears, "Is there anything else you need to know? Anything I need to tell my daughter before she gets married?" But there wasn't. Not even a word. She had modeled the virtues of a loving wife for all of my 23 years as she has loved Dad with everything she has. But most of all, she has loved Jesus with all of her heart and has committed herself to prayer and God's Word. To see her each and every morning consistently reading her Bible and taking it to heart makes it all so obvious where her inner strength and beauty come from. To really know that Jesus is and has always been the center of her life is all that her daughter has ever needed to know. As I walked down the aisle that evening, she stood proudly in full support of Shawn and me. I will always be thankful for that.

Trying to make it down the aisle in one piece. :)

I look up to many things about Mom, but her spiritual wisdom is probably the quality that I most admire. She is an incredible listener and always has sound spiritual advice to offer when it is needed. I remember many cross country and track races through the years where I was either nervous, or fearful, or injured, or sick -- each time, she helped calm me down and reminded me of scriptures and truth to cling to when I was overwhelmed. She is also so faithful to be thankful to the Lord when we see an obvious answer to our prayers.

I really appreciate Mom's gift of hospitality. Anyone who walks into her home feels special, and it's all because of Mom. She always has the right music playing, the floors vacuumed, the candle lit, and the cake plate full. But she's more than just a hostess to those who come through the doors; her generous heart is what makes people feel so welcome. I am also thankful that she taught me how to cook - and to love cooking! Even in elementary school, we learned to cook full meals! My husband really loves you for this, too. :)

Our family on our 2007 cruise

I also greatly admire her musical abilities, and I see her talents more as I get older and more experienced in music. I can still remember the day years ago when she introduced me to "playing chords" for songs and taught me how to figure them out on my own. I treasure the times we sit around the piano and sing old hymns or worship songs, and I love playing her songs I've written or just new worship music that I really like. Even though she's accomplished so much in music, she still gets excited about musical things that I love.

Dancing at Whit's wedding

I love that I can call Mom my best friend. I know that I can always call her and talk to her about anything and she won't jump to offer advice (though I often ask for it), but she will listen and sort through things with me as she would a friend. I also love her commitment to our family. Anyone who knows her knows that she is happiest when all of us are together. With all of the other amazing life opportunities she has had, that is such a compliment to us! And we know - whether we are together or miles away - that she is crazy about us.

So to our incredible Mom, that's only the beginning. We could go on for days about your character, your passion, and your love which has guarded us and propelled us in so many ways. Thank you really isn't enough. But we hope you'll feel celebrated this Mother's Day as we are thinking about you and loving you so very much.

Happy Mother's Day.

Whit and Kels

P.S. - Can't wait to see you next week!

I'm an upholsterer!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Well, not exactly...

But I am really enjoying these little projects where I can quickly, easily (and cheaply) re-do the fabric and change the entire look of something!

So here's my latest endeavor:

Last night, Shawn and I found an incredible thrift store called Brown Elephant Resale Store in Lakeview (there are also locations in Wicker Park and Oak Park). Wow. They have everything from clothes to furniture to dishes to old records to... well... everything.

Our eyes immediately landed on this chair (for $10) and we knew it would be perfect for our desk. The back even matches our kitchen chairs. There were a few places that needed paint, but overall, it was in excellent condition.
But this fabric had to go.

We brought it to the counter and, lo and behold, there was a furniture sale going on! So the chair was only $7.50. Yes!

Next, we headed to a favorite shop of mine, Quiltology. They are one of a very few shops in the city who carry Amy Butler fabric here in the city. [Side note: I am so thankful for a husband who actually enjoys these kinds of things. And I really value his opinion, even when it comes to fabric! He is the best.]

We agreed on a pattern - we wanted something bold - and headed home. Shawn dropped me and the chair and the new fabric off and went to go park the car. [Another side note: Probably our least favorite thing about living in the city and having a car is trying to park it. We could pay $280/month for parking (uhh... no way) or spend lots of time scouring the city for a meter-less space. We choose the latter. By the time Shawn parked, I had almost finished recovering the chair!]

So without further ado, here is our final result:

I just unscrewed the chair seat, took off the original fabric, stapled the new fabric on the seat, and screwed the seat back in (with Shawn's help). I retouched a few places with white paint, too. It literally only took about 45 minutes. Also, I saved some fabric so that Grandma and I can make a pillow this summer out of the rest of it!

On a completely different note, I can't stop looking at (and photographing) these roses on my kitchen table.

The best part? $10 at Trader Joe's! Gotta love a good deal. :)
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