Thursday, July 30, 2015

How does your workspace inspire you?

Etsy shop workspaces: FreshRetroGallery interior design

Drawing room, photography studio, storage/shipping: places I work to design, create, list and send handmade, art supply, vintage items worldwide.

The search for inspiration on how to layout a creative workplace can be found in the spaces of Etsy sellers. Etsy Success blog asked a question, “Where do you go to design and make? Share your creative space—invite us in by posting a photo on your favorite social media channel with the hashtag #inspiringworkspaces.”

Artists have a way about seeing beauty in everything. 

My inspiration comes from exploring nature, exercise, reading, music, surfing the net, traveling, worship and other life experiences. My children Nathan and Laura inspire me. I collect sentimental things from my family as well as found objects for someday when I’ll make mixed media art. My creative mind works overtime and I often wake up dreaming about something to improve, do, draw or write about. My husband Stan is artistic, too, and also a vintage treasure hunter. He likes to clean up old things.

There’s a story behind almost everything in my home, so I’ll add a few to explain the pictures. In two of the photos, look for the beautiful Jesus with a flock of sheep picture by Giovanni titled Der Gute Hirte (German for The Good Shepherd). You might notice the cross in more than one photo because there’s one in almost every room in my home to remind me and everyone who comes here of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection—God’s grace by this sacrifice to atone for my sin. By the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith through baptism and hearing the Word, He comforts, guides and protects me and all who believe and, ultimately, promises eternal life.

I didn’t spend time cleaning, rearranging or staging this series of images, so things aren’t picture perfect. I could have made an attempt, but time is precious. Enjoy the tour. Welcome to my Etsy shop space!

rubber stamp wall cabinet and drafting table
Here’s my drafting table and chair draped with a soft, fuzzy fur Nathan gave me—besides art, this is where I pay the bills and balance the books. We went out for lunch Mother’s Day to Panda Kitchen Chinese Restaurant and the waitress gave me the big pink paper flower. Notice the giant red pencil sticking out of a roto tray cabinet? I collect pencils. I designed and built the oak wall cabinet with sliding glass doors at an adult woodworking class to display my rubber stamps.
Drawing room iMac desk is an antique courtroom table found at an auction in Abilene, Kansas.
The drawing room iMac desk is an antique courtroom table found at an auction in Abilene, Kansas. My dad made the iron plant holder on the wall which I use to hold some of my good junk. You might notice the wire racks holding all kinds of keepsakes including an “Uff da!” napkin I’ve had for a long time. Far left, you can see a sliver of an oak chifforobe wardrobe closet. I keep my cross country ski boots in one of the drawers and a lot of paper and art supplies on the shelves in that cabinet.
wood file cabinets and rubber stamps
I inherited my mom’s rubber stamps, displayed on shelves Nathan built below the covered fuse box. Stan refinished two antique wood file cabinets which work great to store and organize many things. Do you wonder what is in one of the drawers? Visit the post How to organize an artist file system, upcycle cards and reap benefits of a creative life. The bark cloth draped over the cabinet is a curtain from early days of childhood. I stack up the stuff… a Pepsi bottle full of sand collected from the Pacific Northwest, a funny Dilbert cartoon, a flexible lamp for extra light, framed quotes, gifts, photos and another miniature 2-drawer file cabinet on top of the legal 5-drawer.
wall storage and shelving under the stairway
A friend Scott built this wall and shelving under the stairway. Stan and I built the decorative shelf with iron hooks which hold my hand bags, totes and purses. We offer hook racks in the Gallery. On the table in the foreground, the little yellow crib toy saved from childhood, re-purposed as a container for gel pens. Wow, this image needs work—what a clutter mess!

Etsy photo studio with manniquin
Here’s my Etsy photo studio with an old mannequin. Stan did body work plastic surgery, gave her a spray tan and I painted her face. A friend Kathy had a wig for her. I hope to add more vintage clothing pieces and accessories to the shop soon. Stan made the hinged rod hardware which allows for the curtains I made to swivel open and shut. Our neighbor Ginger, a professional drapery designer/maker, gave me the idea. It works well for windows that open inward at the top and also like a door, for safety, to get out in case of fire. Sometimes I stand on the upside-down plastic crate to get a higher angle on the photography. To get a bird’s eye view, I climb the stool or stand on a chair.
photography light box and manikin
On the left is my photography light box on top of an old kitchen table. I made this white container out of large sheets of tag board paper stock which originally was packaging to protect printing plates during transportation. The manikin lady is good company. She never questions my ideas of how to do things and doesn’t rush or demand too much of me.
photography light box set up to shoot vintage and handmade Etsy items
In the upper right area of this photo, you see a decorative iron porch or carport post which holds one of three light strips. The yellow stand is from a halogen light Stan wasn’t using in the garage. Since halogen lights are hot, we replaced it with a daylight florescent bulb strip. The other light strip on the tripod in the foreground gets moved around quite often. The three fixtures hold a total of 10 bulbs. When timing is perfect, I can use natural daylight from the window.
The antique iron bed frame came out of storage in a barn from a farm nearby. I found the cotton crocheted rug at a garage sale. See the vintage mint green box fan tucked behind the stool? It’s handy to have in case of an AC malfunction. A few items waiting to be shot sit on the extra old chairs. Formerly Laura’s room, this now doubles as a second guest room. Big sheets of white tag board and thin packing material are tucked underneath the bed.
boom box, portable TV, oak school desk chair, Victorian dresser
Some of Laura’s artwork and memorabilia decorates the walls. My 1980s boom box rests on the Victorian walnut dresser we bought at an auction. A vintage portable TV sits on an oak school desk chair. Beyond the door on the wall hangs a beautiful antique quilt I found at a flea market.
apothecary cabinet with glass front drawers
At left is shelving for boxes I recycle to send orders. The old treadmill never gets used because it’s covered with vintage items waiting to be photographed. There’s a map of the United States on the wall and Kansas is smack dab in the center. Stacks of old catalogs, books, hats, clocks and you name it will eventually make it to the store front. Stan refinished the antique apothecary cabinet with glass front drawers that came from friends Robert and Robin.
Antique boots, typewriter, paper cutter, butter mold, framed lithograph art
A sneak peek at vintage items to be photographed, described and added to the gallery, now rest on the old treadmill. Antique boots, typewriter, paper cutter, butter mold, framed lithograph art, and more.
Cameras, frames, pottery and other vintage items in storage on top of an old cherry wood dresser.
old frames and brass metal art
Stacks of old frames waiting to be filled with new art are stored in front and on top of the partially hidden coffee table Nathan built. You can’t see them well, but I use old wooden auditorium foldable seating for shelving which lines part of two walls in this room. Some of our wine bottle metal art pieces are shown here. A collection of vintage children’s picture books are in the shelving in the background.
Here’s a box of my 19" x 13" family tree charts waiting to find new homes.
My sewing machine served its first purpose years ago when I created many garments documented for 4-H projects. The wonderful creative tool taught me about design—choosing patterns/fabrics—and how to custom tailor my own garments. On the wall is a clock Laura made with her dad’s help, using markers, silver paint and the lid of a number 10 envelope box. My family tree chart is hung with miscellaneous keepsakes and a couple original paintings titled Resurrection and Peaceful Energy available in the shop.
family tree chart on sewing machine
Family tree charts are ready to be rolled with patch paper, tag; inserted into a tube, labeled and shipped. The workspace is an oak sewing machine cabinet that belonged to Stan’s grandma.
Here you can see my antique retail store glass counter case cabinet complete with Pictionary, two barrels full of monkeys, Jenga and many other games and puzzles. It’s the perfect surface for a large paper cutter I use to make the gift tags that go with each item I send out. It’s space for stereo equipment, a few of my dad’s horseshoe trophies and an antique fan to keep me cool. Against the wall is a cabinet for fabric and craft supplies with a globe, some cobalt blue glass pieces and a vintage goose-neck desk lamp. In front of the cabinet is my NordicTrack stepper where I workout, read, and listen to music. The rough looking furniture hasn’t been touched yet by Stan’s skillful refinishing capabilities.

We’ve lived in this home since 1987. We added-on in 1996 (the addition doesn’t show in this photo—it’s behind the original house you see here). All of the images in this post are taken in the basement where working in a chaotic atmosphere makes sense. We are careful to keep the main floor living space tastefully calm—decorated in eclectic style with an artistic flair. The young tree in the foreground is a cutleaf weeping birch. The shrubs are overgrown—time to do some major trimming!

Monday–Friday, FreshRetroGallery packages are picked up by our USPS mailman when he makes deliveries at our jumbo-large-huge mailbox. I sketched the design for Stan to build this structure out of a salvaged decorative porch post. After painting the faux vintage patina grunge texture, I hand lettered and embellished it with sign paint before he installed it.
Thank you for visiting my workspace.
I look forward to listing some wonderful new items soon.
Please click in to browse in my Etsy storefront!

Note: Many of these photos are obsolete as of 2017. I’ve updated, organized with new shelving, painted paneling, and trimmed the shrubbery! Improving efficiency and aesthetics of my work and living spaces is an enjoyable aspect of my job. Change is good!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

40 Questions to study friendship, character and virtue

Friendly relationships are blessings. 

The Holy Spirit trains Christians to be friendly people. God’s Word provides discernment, guidance, comfort and strength in matters of every type of relationship.
  • casual acquaintance
  • professional acquaintance
  • childhood friend
  • college friend
  • distant old friend
  • new found friend
  • church friend
  • younger friend
  • elderly friend
  • intimate friend
  • friend found in specific, temporary circumstances
  • life-long bond of matrimony between a man and woman as husband and wife

How to be a good friend and find a good friend.
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
Proverbs 27:9 NIV

How to be a good friend and find a good friend.

Examine the kind of friend you are before you can understand the kind of friendship you seek.

Self improvement and ability to put myself in somebody else’s shoes begins with questions.
  1. Am I a friend of everyone?
  2. Do I test everything—hold on to good and abstain from evil?
  3. Do I take time to listen, be reflective and encourage others?
  4. Are people comfortable in my home?
  5. Do I prioritize how to spend time with things that matter?
  6. Do I work hard on priorities that are in order?
  7. Am I willing to serve with a cheerful heart?
  8. Do I value learning about others in order to show respect?
  9. Do I seek and apply courage in uncomfortable situations?
  10. Am I willing to take on leadership and responsibilities?
  11. Do I trust God with every aspect of my life?
  12. Is intelligence a virtue I strive for?
  13. How do I rate with integrity?
  14. Is my good reputation compromised by bad choices?
  15. Where do I go to gain wisdom?
  16. Whom do I look up to and why?
  17. Do I understand my place in life?
  18. Is everything clear, so I’m confident; or do I need more time to analyze things?
  19. How do I discern—upon what do I base decisions? 
  20. Am I seeing realistically; or blindly looking through rose-colored glasses?
  21. Can others depend on me as a source of wisdom and reason?
  22. Am I loyal, even in adversity?
  23. Am I willing to put everything on the line to follow my heart?
  24. Is my heart focused on Truth?
  25. Am I fearless to declare what I believe?
  26. Can I be looked on as the center, the rock, for many people in my life?
  27. Am I an example of a humble and contrite person?
  28. Do I understand that forgiving is essential to move forward regardless of how much success I have? 
  29. Am I willing to give things up and make changes to begin a better life?
  30. Do I exhibit faith and reverence that is rare in the world?
  31. Have I gained tremendous wisdom with all that I’ve gone through?
  32. Am I creative when it comes to enjoying entertainment with others?
  33. Am I happy and positive so that I make others feel better? 
  34. Do people feel safe and respected when they spend time with me?
  35. Do I try to control others; or am I willing to listen with an open mind?
  36. Am I disrespectfully critical; or gently honest and careful in making an effort to help others?
  37. Am I patient?
  38. Do I build others up?
  39. Are my thoughts, words and deeds kind and thoughtful?
  40. Do I pray always, with a thankful heart?

Bible verses about friendship

True friends are brothers and sisters in Christ, focusing on truth, hope and wisdom within Holy Scripture. Our Heavenly Father is the perfect picture of love, humility and grace.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 ESV

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, Proverbs 22:24 ESV

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. …Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:5-6,17 ESV

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14 ESV

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 ESV

One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26 ESV

A prayer for relationships

Dear Lord,
Lead my children, as well as each person in my friends’ and relatives’ families, to safe relationships with faithful people. Help us to trust Your Word. Forgive selfishness and pride. Lead others to be gracious to me, forgiving all wrongs I have done. Guide me to value others and be a good friend with virtuous qualities.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to update exterior concrete steps: replace old carpet with tile

Can you use tile for a front entry makeover of worn carpet on concrete stairs?

Tile was the best solution for our front steps update. Our home was built in 1969. My husband and I bought it in 1987. Before we moved in we replaced the out dated worn out indoor flooring and painted walls. To maintain a fresh look, homeowners must keep up property on a regular basis, constantly fixing things, requiring small and large investments. We remodeled with a major addition in 1996. This stairway entrance update in 2015 taught us once again about home improvement decisions, timing, materials and labor.

Tile for front entry makeover of worn carpet on concrete steps.
Tile for front entry makeover of worn carpet on concrete steps.

Backtrack nearly three decades in remembrance of the home we rented before buying this home

My husband and I moved over 500 miles from South Dakota to Kansas in 1986 and as a couple, we rented a house. Soon after, I was expecting our first child. It was a nice place. The large kitchen had a red counter top. But the green, long shag carpet hid oodles of stick pins which couldn’t be vacuumed out. I love the word oodles—it reminds me of Grandma Sonnack. As a seamstress, I understand how all those stick pins got there. During the process of working quickly to proceed to the next step on the guide sheet, pins hastily land on the floor. It wasn’t a problem in my Mom’s sewing room because the floor was sweepable. But, I’m thinking that whoever lived in this rental house before us should have been more careful. Stick pins aren’t healthy for our baby who would crawl on this dangerous floor if we don’t move. Yikes!

The home we rented was on an unpaved gravel street. Besides indoor plumbing and mid century modern appliances; open windows and electric fans were our only amenities. As a native Minnesotan, I’d expected this to be fine, but little did I know that the move south would make such a difference in temperature. Here we were at home in our new state which bragged, “Ah, Kansas!” in their promotions. I mocked claim on this slogan as I walked outdoors on a windy summer day into heat which felt like a clothes dryer set on high. The Kansas August record high of 118° is a scary thought for a woman well into the final trimester of pregnancy. Having open windows helps, but oh the dust each time a car drove by is not so lovely. Finding a place with central air and a paved street became a priority which eventually brought much joy.

We’d purchased a couch for $1.00 at an auction. It would have been called a davenport in my childhood home. Vintage 1940s fit our eclectic decor. I liked the style and color. We cleaned it well before bringing it in. It was a great place to put up my swollen ankles, but as far as comfort… well, it would have to do until we could afford a better one.

When you buy a home, it’s wise to start a savings account to allow for replacing, fixing and making improvements later


Professionally installed porcelain tile covers old concrete steps.
Professionally installed porcelain tile covers old concrete steps.

“Before” photos don’t exist, but try to imagine wear-damaged plastic green outdoor carpet on the front steps. 

The exterior steps remained the original plastic-green until 1996 when we built an addition. At that time we replaced it with a neutral gray carpet which looked great at first, but wore out its welcome in 2015. The carpet was literally worn out with frayed edges and dark spots that were probably mold. Yuck.

Coming up with a solution came about by process of elimination—by deciding what not to do after we ripped off the old carpet on the original concrete steps.

  • Re-carpet—This would’ve been fairly cheap, but from experience we know how time flies and what to expect from it. Besides that, dirt and debris sticks to it, not to mention snow.
  • Strip to bare original concrete—The old glue amd black stuff they used to attach the past two carpets was stuck on hard. We feared it would be impossible to remove entirely, even with a lot of chemicals and elbow grease.
  • Paint over—The texture from adhesives left a tacky appearance and paint would probably wear off unattractively.
  • Tear out the old steps and put new in—The existing steps are in good condition and it seemed like such a heavy-duty project for something that’s just asking for a face lift.
  • Cover with stone—Even though it might have looked awesome, the idea of actually doing it seemed overwhelmingly out-of-the-box.
  • Cover with slate—The slate tiles we found could flake or chip easily and cause a cut if walking on barefoot.
  • Cover with cork—Fun thought, but not ideal for exterior flooring.
  • Cover with wood—Wouldn’t work with the height of the threshold.
  • Cover with recycled rubber gym flooring—It isn’t bendable enough.
  • Cover with concrete patio brick—It’s too thick for the threshold.

Finally, our solution: Cover it with tile. 

Choosing tile for covering concrete steps was fairly easy. Instead of looking for the most appealing tile, we considered the surface first and foremost. This narrowed down our choices drastically. We chose an indoor/outdoor porcelain tile with a rough surface for walking grip so it wouldn’t be slippery when wet.

An extra single piece of tile is shown in the foliage near our front steps. FYI, cut hydrangeas (the flower in the corner) stay fresh longer in a vase which has a pinch of alum added to the water. This item is marked Nutrasand Tusk 12 x 24 887275009675

For labor and expertise, we contacted a reliable and talented person who accepted the job.

The father-daughter team used a wet cut tile saw with a diamond blade for cutting the porcelain tile. I don’t know the full details of the entire process. The tile project was reasonably expensive because of the excellent quality material and craftsmanship. Consider the factors which helped us decide to do it:
  • The look.
  • Easy to shovel or sweep
  • Durable for longevity.
  • Ability to hire the service.
  • Utilize and support someone’s vocation.
What do you think? Do you have experience or ideas to share on this topic? Add a comment below.

In closing, here are Bible verses to encourage you:
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9