Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween & Happy Decorating!

Well I confronted my "decorating frustration" head-on ... Or perhaps more accurately, I was forced to do so! You see, I committed to having a Halloween party at my house for my children who are at a new school this year. It was supposed to be just my oldest daughter's classmates, their siblings and parents. My other two daughters were supposed to invite a few friends (about 4) each.

Well, my youngest went to school and couldn't contain her enthusiasm: "We're having a party!", she blabbed to all who would listen. And of course, I did not want to become the NEW parent who hurt the uninvited children's feelings -- or their parent's more importantly. So I wound up inviting all three classes: my oldest, middle and youngest daughter's class, for a total of 22 families per class, with grand a total of 66 families!  I wasn't too worried -- trying to remain calm. I told myself to expect about 20-30% turnout from each class. What I got instead was a 75% response and over 150 people, plus all of my extended family and close friends. Crazy right?!

In order to get ready for the party, I have spent the last 4 weeks sanding, painting, staining any and everything in my house ... outside too: the swing set, benches around the yard, and exterior of the house. I painted my formal entry w/2-story walls, upstairs hallways, 1/3 of my formal living, and all of my formal dining which is now a pool hall room. I will admit that I wound up hiring out for the exterior of the house. They did an awesome job at quite a reasonable price. I also let some things go, like replacing a fence and restaining my decks.

The amazing thing was for some reason the "decorating fog" that had been in my head seemed to clear under the pressure and I was able to choose colors and confront the horrific task of painting again. I even found a solution to my half painted kitchen table and chairs: KILLZ. You paint it on over the previous paint -- yes, even glossy -- and it works better than sanding. With KILLZ, a one-hour dry time, and 2 coats red paint per chair: I was able to finish my table & chairs half-done project in just days. And it really worked!

I also found that painting itself wasn't so bad with no kids running amuck underfoot -- they're all in school now, and I work from home -- and the right tools. I found a great tool called the "Paint Stick." It sucks up the paint in a big medicine-like syringe and disperses it evenly to your attachment of choice (i.e., roller, edger, foam pad). It was amazing: virtually no splatter! And if you actually read the book, you see that you can flush out unused paint right back into your can -- otherwise you waste quite a bit ... especially with the roller attachment. Another nice feature is that with the length of the stick you get added reach, so that in normal rooms you don't even need a ladder.

Having this Halloween Party dead-line FINALLY gave the excuse I needed to put something important to ME first for a change. It gave me focus too, so that I could make color decisions, etc. So my advice is: 1) force yourself to have a real dead-line; 2) have the right tools for the job (i.e, Paint Stick and KILLZ); 3) prioritize and decide which things can wait until a later date; and 4) know when to call in the pros.

We just had our party, this past Saturday, and the house looked great. Everyone seemed to have fun. Now I can sit back and enjoy my "new" home. At some point, I'll tackle the rest of my unfinished projects with my newfound decorating confidence. Happy Decorating!

P.S. Also found a good quick and inexpensive photo editing tool at CVS Pharmacy -- easy to use too ... no experience required. I scanned in all of my Italy trip (nearly 10 years ago when they didn't have photo CD's) church/architectural photos, adjusted brightness & contrast, cropped and printed enlarged versions (5 x 7) of 14 photos for only $26.00 in under an hour. Then, I choose my 12 favorite prints -- from my home PC photo CD -- from our recent trip to the ocean. I edited and printed those out in black and white as well -- my home photo printer does color great, but does black&white lousy ... so watch for that when you buy a printer, if black & white is important to you. My 5-year old is overjoyed when she looks at our black wall frame, in the den, and sees familiar faces smiling back at her. : )

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