Thursday, May 30, 2013


As you probably know, my car automatically brakes for yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets. I've been meaning to post my finds for some time, so don't judge me too harshly for being a thrift-a-holic. These things have been collected over several months.

This giant jar of GORGEOUS and unique vintage buttons. You can expect to see these on some upcoming pieces in the jewelry shop. 

This juicy bag of vintage trims and sewing supplies. So awesome. I have some big sewing projects planned this summer when the Man is off work. I'm hoping to use these beauties in some pillows, dollies, and other textile projects. 

This gorgeous antique table. It looks like it was some sort of work surface made into a little table. It has a beautiful patina and was only $12! 

This crochet pillow in sunny orange and yellow. 

And this holy mother of a faux wood mirror which is borderline tacky, but looks flippin sweet over my record player console and adds tons of natural light to a dull corner. 

More to come next week, too!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


As some of you may know, my husband works for KIPP Austin.  KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools with a track record of preparing students in under-served communities for success in college and in life. That is the official definition. My definition, as the spouse of someone who works for KIPP: A really kick-ass charter school that gets struggling kids on track for college, mostly by demanding total commitment from parents, adherence to core values, and an INSANE amount of extra work from the teachers and their own families.

Students K-2, at KIPP Austin Comunidad, where my husband works, are in school from approx 7:30 until 4:30. Needless to say, this means teachers often work 12-14 hours every day and regularly on the weekends, just to keep up with regular classroom management. They have a family school day one Saturday a quarter and an extended school year. The staff must show incredible dedication for this kind of school to be successful and they are. Okay, I know what you're thinking.. this post says lounge makeover, Rachel...get to it. 

My point is that besides dedicated students, you cannot imagine how hard these teachers work. Often times teachers have FIVE minutes to escape to the lav for a little kid-free peace and quiet. Unfortunately this is what they have been escaping to for three years:

White, stark, institutional, BLINDING fluorescent with zero amenities. Not very inviting.  When I was in grade school, I always pictured the teacher's lounge more like Don Draper's office with vending snacks. Big cozy couches, soda machines, fancy coffee and a haze of secret teacher ciggy smoke. Nope-this is it: toilet, mirror sink. Boo.'s co-ed. EWWwwww. 

As part of teacher appreciation week, I volunteered my services to redo the staff bathroom at my husband's school on a teeny tiny budget provided by management.  I spent one Saturday afternoon (and one more installing it), running around Austin, pillaging thrift stores, raiding home depot, and unpacking and sniffing every diffuser in Marshall's for some solutions to this hideous space. I wanted to attack all the important senses, with solutions for lighting, scent, storage for personals, and a place to sit. I wanted it to be ultra-Zen...a little escape from the insanity of squirelly grade-schoolers and harried deadlines, but also functional as it serves as a space for staff to change after work on the way to the gym or otherwise (Happy Hour).  

My budget covered little more than paint and supplies so I had to get REAL creative. These projects are always more work because of the DIY nature of the budget, but still, beautiful interiors CAN be achieved on a shoestring. Sure I could have skipped all the yummy extras and just painted and hung up an Ikea picture, but I don't like to do things less than awesome. Seeing how this was a surprise to the staff, I wanted it to be cohesive, complete, and wonderful. And despite it being a silly little pro-bono project, I actually put a lot of thought into the design solutions for the space. (Thank you, University of Minnesota)

Some finds:

You'll have to forgive the weird colors from my lame camera... This paint is actually a mauvy, earthy, brown. It was hard to capture in this windowless space and fluorescent lighting. You can see it better in later photos. 

Obviously, without using lots of my own supplies and hardware (drill, nails, staples, fabric, string, etc..) I couldn't have stayed within budget, but it was worth it. I even got a little carried away and stocked the console ($20!) with dollar store breath mints, tissues, light bulbs, and hand lotion.

It was well worth it. I was inundated with thank you cards, emails and messages to my husband that it was ultra-appreciated and such a surprise. This is now known as the "fancy bathroom" by the staff. I hope it will continue to give our hard-working teachers a few minutes of respite so they can face the students with a fresh face and renewed spirit. There is nothing more important than this.

If you'd like to know more about schools like KIPP, check out the documentary Waiting for Superman. It is a brilliant piece on the importance of progressive schools and how families are affected. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Gaaaaaaaaahhhh... I am a deadbeat blogger. What can I say?  What started out as a quick one or two day break from the shackles of internet-land, turned into 11 days of radio silence. Deepest apologies.. 

On that note, however, I want to revisit the subject of techno-burnout. (If you're over my "old lady" rants, then please tune in tomorrow).  Sometimes I am deeply saddened by our dependence on technology. I've mentioned my annoyance when concert-goers are more into capturing footage on their smart phones than watching and enjoying the show. I look around at a restaurant and half the people at the table are looking at their phones instead of the people in front of them. Is it healthy to have a conversation with someone and then whip out your phone to "find out" the piece of information you were just discussing? 

Even as a blogger, it is sometimes a burden to run around with my camera and document everything I'm doing. (Does anyone else feel like this?)  Is it enough, anymore, to experience an event without sharing it on Facebook, tweeting, or blogging about it? Is it not really "real" until it's Facebook official... 'X changed her relationship status to "in a relationship'"  ?? It is implied that if it is not on Facebook, then clearly one party has not committed yet... I have had to block dear friends on FB, because I simply cannot stand to read what they are having for dinner, how well their run went, or what color their pee was that day. You see my point. 

I think there is a very real phenomenon of social media and internet addiction developing. I am no better. I don't have a smart phone yet but I often watch TV shows streaming on my laptop. I cannot make it through 3 or 4 minutes of a show without clicking over to facebook, email, or my Etsy shop. Sometimes I stop and Google an actor or actress. I don't even know what I am looking for, or necessarily even waiting for a response from someone, but it's like a sick compulsion!  

As a small internet business owner, I feel that I haven't properly done my job unless I listed new product online, pinned it, facebooked about it, tweeted it, instagrammed it first, and sent emails to everyone I know.  It's insane. And it won't be long before there will be another little icon to attend to, along with those. I assure you "THEY"...the proverbial all-knowing, technologically elite "THEY" are working on it right now. 

This is not a case for the stop of progress and technology. It is wonderful. In many many ways it makes my life easier. I am able to share with my friends and family all over the world. I started not one, but two Etsy shops--basically started a business out of a corner of my bedroom--with virtually no overhead (tweet, link, share..gahhh) and manage pretty much all of my bills and family affairs right from my laptop. I worship Pinterest. It's saved me tons of tear sheets and binders of images and hundreds of dollars in magazines (sorry Hearst, Conde Nast, etc..)It basically replaced cookbooks in my house. Despite all of this, I am making a huge case, here, for us all to draw the line somewhere!

In all of this fabulous ease and flashy one-stop, touch-of-a-button living, are we forgetting to actually LIVE? Over the past 11 days, I actually read a book, went to a movie, ate at a fabulous restaurant here in Austin (tweet, link, share...gahhh!!I'm doing it again), exercised, and spent quality time with my family. I went to bed at a reasonable hour and managed to avoid the take-out trap all week.  In my radio silence, I felt healthier and more relaxed than I have in months. 

I'm getting to a point here. Technology and progress will continue to grow at an extreme rate--possible until we are all walking around like automotons with headsets and QR codes on our faces . The only person who can keep it from going too far is YOU. You set your own boundaries.. I assure you Apple won't do it. In the name of reclaiming our humanity, I encourage you to declare a TECHNOLOGY FREE day once a week.  Don't look at facebook. Don't check your email. Don't pin, don't tweet, don't insta-anything. Read the news in a newspaper, cook a recipe from your cookbook, buy a book at a bookstore, look your husband, wife, girlfriend, BFF in the eye when they talk, and if you feel incredible joy, pride, or sadness, wallow in it--this is what makes you a person. It is real whether we hit the "like" button or not. 


Thursday, May 2, 2013


I've had a little studio time this week and I've been busy getting restocked on all of the One Man's Trash summer classics in my shop.. A little peek: 

Also working on restocking these:

And some new/old treasures in the vintage shop