Monthly Archives: September 2011

Adventures in DIY: Office Space Edition

This post may also be called, “Learn From My Mistakes: Laminate Furniture Edition.”

Alternatively: “Can’t Say No to Free Furniture: The Windy Taylor Story.”

My office was cleaning out a storage unit and my boss asked if I wanted this lovely example of mid-1990s office printer cabinetry:


I saw past the super-slick laminate surface, past the shiny brass handles, past its unassuming demeanor. That thing has some serious storage space, and I was just sure that with a little paint, some casters for mobility, and some new knobs, it would be a perfect storage piece for our sunroom.

Lesson #1: Do your own homework. Do not listen to the minimum-wage-making minion at the paint counter. She assured us that using the paint-and-primer in one would be “totally fine.” She told us we didn’t need to sand (although I did, lightly, on the top).

You can probably guess where this is going.

We taped. We painted. We gave it two coats of Martha Stewart’s Bay Leaf. It looked lovely. Then Jason put a screwdriver on top of the cabinet. When he picked it up, the paint came with it.


You remember that peel-off nailpolish that was really popular in the late 1980s? It was like that. It was also like the scene in action/adventure movies where the unassuming bystander pulls of his latex face to reveal that he is Tom Cruise. In short, it was a disaster. We pulled the paint off in big rubbery sheets and tried again.

Lesson #2: This woman is a genius. We sanded the top of the cabinet and put on two coats of the Zinsser primer all over, then two coats of the Bay Leaf. And then we held our collective breath.

It worked! We conquered the laminate beast! I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Part of me wants… more. A stencil on the doors? Maybe something painted on the sides? Glaze? I don’t know. I’ll probably wait until it’s back in the sunroom to see what strikes my fancy.

Until then, we’re going to put our printer on it. For old time’s sake.

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Look, y’all!


That NASA satellite actually landed in our back yard!

(Just kidding, it’s just the guts from the old HVAC system, which was hauled out from under the house this week.)

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What I Wore Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This week I did much better about using my camera on days other than Wednesday. Which means I also did better about picking outfits that exceeded my minimum criteria of 1) clean and 2) doesn’t itch.

 pleated poppy


Ankle Pants: Ann Taylor Loft
Chiffon-tiered tank: Old Navy
Linen-blend cardigan: Ann Taylor Loft
Shoes: Are silly!
Necklace: TheresaRose on Etsy

Can you tell it still feels like summer here?


Clearly casual.
Khakis: Old Navy
Pink Button-Down: Old Navy
Shoes: Bob’s


Had to speak at two church services, so wanted something comfortable.
Pants: Elevenses, bought at Urban Thread
Tank: Ann Taylor Loft
Cardigan: Ann Taylor Loft
Flats: Shoe Station
Tyler: Loves Pumpkin Coffee. At least, the smell of it.

Monday: Wore the same cardigan/tank/necklace/shoes, but swapped the pants for a denim skirt.


Polo: Old Navy
Khakis: Jason’s, J.Crew

This is the sartorial equivalent of that Gary Larson cartoon titled “It was late and I was tired.”

Which brings us to TODAY:

Dress: Target
Shoes: Target

And up close:

Necklace: San Antonio, Texas. Yee haw.
Earrings: LanaOCrystal at Etsy


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What I Wore Wednesday: Purple Safari Edition

Drumroll, please…….

 pleated poppy

This week felt like cheating, to be honest. Shirtdresses are too easy. This one is a really vibrant color, somewhere between cranberry and deep magenta.

Sorry it’s blurry – my cameraman was so sleepy.

Shirtdress, shoes: Target
Wrinkles: Free!
Necklace: my grandmother’s

A closeup of the necklace, which is enameled metal and looks a bit like giant Tic-Tacs:



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Learn from my Occasional Success: Critters Edition

I consider myself to be a relatively independent, capable person. But everyone has that one thing that they Don’t Do. For some women, it’s mowing the grass. For some men, it’s setting foot in the mall.

Mine was roaches. Or, more specifically, Florida roaches. The inch-plus behemoths that feature prominently in my most terrifying nightmares. The ones that will sit on the wall until you get right up close, and then FLY RIGHT AT YOU AND TRY TO EAT YOUR FACE.

For the entire duration of my first marriage, I was relieved of roach-eradication duty. We couldn’t afford monthly pest control, so we invested in Raid and heavy footwear. All I had to do was alert my ex of the roach’s last known location, and he took care of it.

Fast-forward to September 2007. I am standing in the kitchen of the house I have just moved into, staring down a particulary chubby specimen of Periplaneta americana, and it dawns on me that I will have to get rid of it myself.

Oh, bleep.

In the end, I slayed the beast. There may (or may not) have been high-pitched screaming, a good bit of flailing, and a hot shower afterwards. But I did it. All by myself.

That was my first post-divorce victory.

The class I’m co-facilitating encourages people to make a list of their losses associated with a divorce. It will be a long list, the DVD tells you, many many pages of losses.

I suggest that, alongside your list of losses, you make a list of gains as well. #1 for me – Learned to Cope with Crippling Fear of Face-Eating Monster Roaches.  

We tend to use our spouse as a crutch sometimes. “Oh, Joe takes out the trash.” “Sarah does the grocery shopping.” That’s not a bad thing – it’s part of finding a balance of household responsibilities and duties. But when you suddenly find yourself in charge of the whole household, it’s hard to force yourself to use those atrophied trash-taking-out muscles. This is especially true when you feel that what has happened to you isn’t fair. Divorce recovery is, in a lot of ways, like physical therapy. And even though each gain is usually accompanied by some pain or fatigue, it should be celebrated and listed right alongside the losses.

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Going Topless

When I was a kid, I loved getting scrapes, because scrapes meant scabs – and scabs meant hours of fun. My mother would admonish me not to pick at them, but I couldn’t help it. I would wait as long as I could, until I was sure the scab could be lifted in one translucent piece without tearing the skin at the margins.

It’s probably a good thing I enjoyed this process, because my elementary school years were spent pretty banged up – scrapes on my shins and knees and elbows from rollerskating, bicycling, tree-climbing, and soccer.  

A scab forms while new tissue grows beneath it. The new tissue is a scar, sometimes a permanent one. While a scab is important to the healing process, you can’t keep it forever.

Sometimes, you just have to rip off that scab.  And if you’re very very lucky, it involves a crane.

The last damaged portion of the house  – the roof and truss system – came off this week in spectacular fashion. The workers cut the roof in 10 or 15-foot sections, then lifted off the sections – shingles, decking, trusses, everything – and put them in the front yard. One of the sections was so charred and fragile that it crumbled and fell into the house. No one was hurt, but it punched a hole in the kitchen subfloor.

For the first time since June, the house was full of light. As I walked through the skeletons of rooms, the sunshine washed over every surface, melting any residual bad feelings associated with the house. It was, finally, a New Thing. Not a shell, not something blackened and damaged, but a clean slate. New skin. A scar. A scar that smells of fresh lumber.

We are approaching the halfway point. Yesterday marked 11 weeks since the fire, and we probably have 12 weeks of reconstruction to go. Knock on wood, the contractor seems to be moving right on schedule. Seminole Trusses had the new trusses in place on the same day as the old ones were removed.

Rib bone's connected to the....

I wondered if it would bother me to see the house torn apart from the outside, in a way that was visible to passing cars and pedestrians. After the fire, people would stop and stare at the house, and it made me self-conscious. I could feel their pity all the way from the sidewalk, and I didn’t want it. However, seeing the roof come off was actually quite cathartic and refreshing. It was more like opening the sunroof on the first nice day of spring.  On a much larger scale.

I shall call you, "Half Bath." Or maybe "Semi-Private."

We could not be happier with the work being done by our contractor, Brian Will at New South Homes. Despite a trip to the emergency room after crushing his finger yesterday, he remains cheerful and patient with us and the insurance company.

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What I Wore Wednesday: Now with fresh lemon scent!

This week I actually remembered to use my camera, so we have What I Wore Sunday, Tuesday, and today.

  the pleated poppy blog

On Sunday my son Tyler received his third grade bible in church. He wanted to get all dressed up. He is WAY cuter than I am:

Dress: Anthropologie (from Urban Thread outlet)
Cardigan: Gap
Necklace: Honeymoon purchase, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Adorable little boy: Priceless

This week I had to go to court, so Tuesday I got to bust out my suit:

Litigation Barbie Rides Again

Suit: J.Crew, purchased at Urban Thread outlet
Camisole: Ann Taylor Loft
Shoes: Target

Which brings us to today:

Look, up there! It's a bird! It's a plane!

Jason makes me laugh. Sometimes at the wrong time.

Cardigan: Gap (same as Sunday)
Necklace: Also same as Sunday, ooooo recycling
Black tweed trousers: Ann Taylor
White tank: Ann Taylor Loft
Shoes: Target

Have a great week!

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The Lovely Bones

Over at the burnt-up house, interior demolition is DONE.

Someone offered me $20 to re-enact Xanadu up in here.

I’m still kind of amazed how cathartic the demolition phase has been. It’s like excising a tumor, or sloughing dead skin – I feel cleaner without all the dirty insulation and burnt can lights hanging from the ceiling. I expected to feel more loss with the interior of the house gone, like, “It may be dirty and smelly, but it’s MINE and you can’t HAVE IT.”

Well, you're still dirty and smelly. FOR NOW.

It’s funny, even after I describe the extent of the demolition, I still get asked, “So, are you still living there?”

Hello-lo-lo-lo? Echo-cho-cho!!

Um, no. Because mama hates camping and loves running water. Also electricity.

A wee bit drafty.

Tyler is somewhat disappointed that the house will not be staying like this. Every time we go he shows me his new superpower – walking through walls.

Well sure that's a neat trick, but it's terrible for hide-and-seek.



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WIWW, September 7, 2011

Here in Florida, it’s been “fall” all week – the mornings start out in the mid-to-upper 60s, and the daytime highs don’t get above 90.

Yeah, I know. Not really fall. But we’ll see who’s laughing in February.


 the pleated poppy blog

 I’m not ready to pack up my summer dresses just yet, so I paired a gray-and-white striped maxi dress with a yellow cardigan – kind of a mid-century modern color scheme.

Try not to be hypnotized by the stripes.

Dress: Old Navy

Cardigan: Ann Taylor Loft

Necklace: At Home in Thomasville


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Nine weeks and five days after the fire that kinda-sorta destroyed our home, demolition has finally started.

When I went to pick up the mail at the burnt-up house and saw the almost-full Dumpsters, I almost wept from exhaustion and exhiliration. I felt as though all our stress, that we’ve been carrying around with us like an anchor, had been tossed in with the drywall.

That's not an athletic supporter. That means someone's been working.

Nine weeks and five days of waiting. Of watching our house, like a sick child, malinger. It’s like the fever finally broke and we can begin healing in earnest.

We have two Dumpsters. The other one is for drama.

The contractor did an astounding amount of work today. The entire kitchen has been ripped out, as well as the drywall in the dining room. The bedroom carpets are gone. Many of the doors and closet shelves are stored neatly in the sunroom.
Title: Jabba the Hut. Medium: Carpet Pad.

I feel like a great weight has been lifted. The hardest part is behind us. (Famous last words, right?)

This Dumpster relies on its sun-dappled camouflage color scheme to protect it from predators.


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