Jul 10, 2009

Updates and Happenings


Well, I certainly have missed you all and I have some wonderful emails and blog comments to catch up on. Please know that if you commented on any of my postings in the recent past and you haven't seen it yet or seen a response yet, know that I haven't forgotten you and I will respond and I appreciate you taking time to write me:-)

I am wondering if I should catch you all up with a few fun things first and then end my post with a few not so fun things or the other way around? Fun first? Or, not so fun first? Hmmmm....

I think I will start with fun first. We all have our own life's ups and downs and sometimes, we just don't really want to hear (read) about one more problem (well, at least I feel that way sometimes). It doesn't mean we don't care or have concern for others; but sometimes, when we click on our computer, and after we get past all those news ads, pop ups, more ads, and other Internet things we must sift through in hopes to get to some eye candy or fun reading, it can be a little disappointing to be faced with yet another life issue, that well, frankly, we just may not be in the mood to read at that very moment. With that in mind, I will start with fun things first!

So, having said all that, let me say how nice it is to have you pop on by and visit with me again and how I so much love hearing from you all.

I know how much you love (and me too) "before's and after's" and below I wanted to show you some before pictures of some windows that are about to be covered with some drapes that I designed. The home owner wanted everything to be light and sweet and yet have a luxurious feel. She also stated that she wanted her bedding to look like "a wedding dress." And she wanted some of her curtains to remind her of elegant "ball gowns." She is a true romantic. Just about all the fabric used was silk and my seamstress, Maureen, used a lot of interlining and backing to really make the delicate silk very opulent and full. Not an easy feat.

Below is a photo of the living room and the windows. This is before she really moved in. And right after she moved in, she had to move out again due to some builder's mistakes in installing the woodwork and flooring. However, the finished product is beautiful with all the finishing wood touches that you will see a bit later. For now - look at how high the ceilings are! And no, we did not cover all the windows! In fact, we covered very little in this room....

Just look at the scale by studying the size of the french door and where the door knob on the door is compared to the height of the chandelier (which is changed in the "after" photo)!

Her bedroom is very sweet and romantic. The bed, she got from England and she wanted it to feel like a wedding dress. She has a long hallway (2 photos above) that leads to the master bath that is to die for.

The room you see at the foot of the bed is a room she is using as an office, but it could be a sitting room, dressing room or whatever - but wait until you see the fireplace!

Don't you just hate it when your windows are just so large that they make your beautiful European armoire look like a little toy that belongs in a doll house? I hate when that happens! :-)

Okay, back to reality - well, my reality at least. That is her dream home that she worked very hard for and saved for over the years. And while her dream has finally come true, someone else's dream has come true as well....

...While not nearly as glamorous, or large, or breathtaking (but you will gasp at the sight - but not in a good way...), my handsome barber of a husband had his dream come true when he bought his own business, a barbershop, a little over a year ago. Randy has been cutting hair for about 23 years now and is a licensed cosmetologist (he cuts and colors my hair - sleeping with your stylist is one way not to lose them) and he now "barbers," as he calls it, and so he also a business owner!

He bought Big Bend Barber Shop, from a gentleman named Clifford, who had owned the shop for 35 years. But the shop has been around for about 45 years, so Randy is the third owner. Clifford now works for Randy two days a week (Friday and Saturday) and it turned out to be a beautiful relationship. But it didn't start that way. Clifford (everyone calls him Cliff except for me, I love calling him Clifford) pretends to be a gruffy kind of guy who is short on words and smiles. He did NOT like the idea of "retiring" at all and certainly did not like the "young" guy taking over his shop. His children had been asking him to retire for years due to his health and age. He is 72, I believe.

When I first met Clifford, he would barely look up when I walked in the shop. He was not happy that someone else was cutting "his" clients' hair - who could blame him? But, Randy did pay for the shop after all, and it was bound to happen some day, and he knew it, but it still was a bitter pill to swallow. So, I made my way over to the shop a lot in the beginning and I would head straight for Clifford and give him a big hug every time. I could feel him bracing up for the embrace and the more he braced up, the longer I embraced. He lived on peanut M&M's and diet Pepsi and nothing much more. He is single and has his truck, and his TV, his buddies, and he cuts hair. So, I would bring him in cooked meals in Tupperware and put it on the back bar by his chair and tell him to eat it or give it to Randy and I would walk to the back and have lunch with Randy. He always grumbled that he wouldn't be eating it. But, sooner or later, he would hobble to the back (he had a foot problem) and place the empty Tupperware on the desk and mumble "that was good" and go back to his chair and read the paper.

His foot problem needed surgery and he finally gave in and had surgery. He was out for six weeks. He was worried that all his customers "forgot him" and no one would need him. The day he got back from his surgery, I swung the door open wide and stood there with a big smile on my face and said loudly, "There he is!!!! NOW we can finally get down to business!! Finally!! Someone who knows what is going on around here!! Clifford, I am counting on you to keep Randy in line for me, you know. He got out of hand while you were gone. Do you realize how hard it has been on me not having you around to keep him in line???" I went and gave him a hug and he seemed to slowly over time warm up to the idea of retirement.

How is he now? Well, let's just say that if it is too cold for him, he has no trouble taking off for Florida. And when I come in now, he actually opens his arms just slightly, because he knows he can't get away from me, and he actually makes me laugh with some of the stuff he comes up with. Randy is such a character he had Clifford almost falling out of the chair with laughter just last week. Clifford now volunteers at the hospital, takes off early on most Friday's and Saturday's and retirement isn't so bad after all. He fills in for Randy when we go to the lake and that helps Randy get some much needed time off. I hope we get to have Clifford around for a long time. I might even get a photo of him smiling for the "after" shots that I post!

This past year, we have slowly been making improvements to the shop. We have painted, put in new floors, and we finally just ordered two new barber chairs. We would love a new back bar, but that will have to wait, so, I am hoping I can do my "magic" and paint it - my next project. I have never done a back bar so this will be interesting. I am not sure about the sinks either. We have no budget after getting the chairs - have you ever priced barber chairs? Geesh!

You can take a gander (and a gasp) at the before photos below on the day Randy bought the shop and our friend, Debbie, stopped by to congratulate him:

Our friend Debbie - she is the one who had the cute, cute living room and dining room that I did for Romantic Homes (and bedding) with the hose nozzles garden theme table....her daughter, Caitlin (sorry if I misspelled that) just bought a home - that will be a big "before" and "after"... but I digress...this is suppose to be about Randy's shop...

Notice the yucky floor and old chairs. These chairs are old, but not in a good way. They are too big in the back which makes Randy lean just slightly forward all day while cutting hair. This gives him a horrible backache. Hopefully the new chairs will help because they will be smaller.

Also, notice the back bar - it is such a mess - it will be a real challenge for me to paint this with all the cords and the all the equipment that is needed daily....the sinks may have to stay - not sure yet. But all of this will be done very soon...so you will get "after" photos soon!

Here is my business owner of a husband who is just too happy for words to be sitting in his very own shop after 23 years of cutting hair for someone else - now - he cuts for himself. You know, when it comes down to it, even though most of you who read this blog, are boutique owners, or use to own shops, or want to own shops, or just like to shop....the pride in owning and running a business crosses all trades and even a barber shop, even an old, dated barber shop, still has a very happy and proud barber sitting inside thinking: "I did it!"

But Randy is no different than most of the rest of us. He didn't do it alone and he is very grateful. While he is the one that studied and had to pass his exams and get his permits and work all these years he always credits his paternal grandmother that put him through his tech school. He hunted for several years to buy a shop and almost gave up on this shop until I suggested he write a letter to Clifford. I drafted a letter for him and he sent it without much hope and to his much surprise he got a positive response. His mother graciously and lovingly assisted with the sudden financing needed and lent help when Clifford suddenly decided to sell his shop to Randy. And now, the very unexpected passing of his (step)father's (Jim) mother, Mary Benitz, he now is able to purchase two new barber chairs.

These past two months have been less than productive or happy. First, Randy's grandmother, Mary Benitz, very unexpectedly passed away recently. It was a shock to us all. She is pictured below. She attended our wedding, and I am so grateful that I had a chance to get to know her. Knowing her such a short time only makes it all the harder to say good-bye because I was so looking forward to finally having a "grandmother" in my life for once. I never had a grandma. And she was the perfect one. And I mean perfect. She made me feel like I have been a part of the family all along. And obviously, she loved Randy and felt he was her grandchild as well because she loved him enough to think of him and because of her loving and giving nature, he is now able to purchase two, very good chairs, that will hopefully save his back from aching so much.

So, when Randy cuts his father's hair (Jim), Jim will be sitting in the chair that his mother bought while his son cuts his hair. Mary will be a part of the barbershop - which I find so wonderful. A day won't go by that she won't be thought of and when the chairs finally arrive and when the customers comment on them, Randy will get the honor of telling customers who bought them for him. Mary will be missed and I am grateful to have known her. Her funeral was a testimony of how a life well-lived is rewarded in the end. She lived for others and not herself. The love she showed others is an example for us all.

I have one private and special memory of Mary that took place at my wedding. We were about to have our picture taken and she and I were alone together. She was holding on to my arm while someone was finding Randy for the photo. She patted my arm and looked up at me and just simply smiled and said, "You are a beautiful bride, Elizabeth." And she patted my arm again. What was so nice about that moment was that she said it with her eyes, not just with words. With all the bustle, the laughter, the noise, the people, and activity all around me, when I looked down into her eyes, I could see so much love in them. I never had that given to me before. I never had a grandma and now I finally did. It was a really nice moment. And how lucky I was to have it captured. The photo of that very moment is below. No one knew about that moment until now. And if you look closely at my eyes, you can just tell by my eyes and by my smile that her words and her look just touched my heart so deeply. It was such a simple little moment, but it meant the world to me. I am so glad the photographer just happened to snap that moment.

She was my grandma for a moment.

(I love you, grandma.)

Also, this past past month or so, my health isn't what it should be for now. My headaches are back and I am tired a lot. I am having some complicated female matters that are being looked into that are causing a lot of other issues that I won't go into. Tests are being ran and I am taking care of myself, but it is tiring and at times, I will admit, a little scary. Nothing conclusive at this point, but sometimes, you just want to get on with life, you know what I mean? It seems if it isn't one thing, it is another. But, I will keep you posted. Some days I feel just fine and dandy, and other days not so much so. That is what is so tiring - the up and down of it all. That and the headaches.

Also, I have decided to take somewhat of a sabbatical. What is a sabbatical exactly? Well, the college professors take them and researchers take them, and even pastors take them. It is suppose to be a time of renewal and exploration. Actually, I think it is just a fancy word for, "I aint' working for a while." Call it what you will, but what I am really doing is what a friend of mine called: mining for new gold. I really liked that when she said it. Because that is what I am really doing. I am "mining." But I am doing it slower until I feel better. Actually, I have been mining slowly on something new for some time now, and I can't wait to share it with you all. I am very excited about it, but not feeling up to par lately and have put that little gold mine on hold for a bit. But it is a fun gold mine. :-)

My other news is that I will not be participating in the December Miss Frenchie Show as a vendor. If I am up to it, I may help out in other avenues, if needed, but for now, my sabbitical or rather, my mining is taking priority. I will certainly miss it though! I love, love, love putting my little booth together - but, if the ladies need any help, and if able, I hope I can help them in some way. I do hope to attend one way or another, those vendors have lots of goodies that I never get to shop!!

However, I do plan on writing (sans deaths, illnesses...who knows what lies ahead lately, geesh!), I do plan writing a shop talk, I will be adding more wedding photos - more news on that to come...and more photos on "before" and after" projects. I hope to offer encouragement when I can and inspiration as well. You inspire me, you know! The things I read, see, and hear about are just wonderful and I am so honored that you share your accomplishments with me.

Also, one last thing, and I will let you go - and kudos to you for reading this far down - I am not sure I would and I am the one doing the writing! But, if you have any particular subject, or idea, or project, or topic, or theme that you wish I would write about or address (design wise or not, it can be anything), feel free to drop me a line. I am not saying I will address it, but I have been getting some interesting emails lately requesting some topics that I never would have thought of.

For example, do you have any interest at all in my thoughts or opinions on how to live simply but elegantly and on a budget? I had a reader ask my opinion on bed making. She (or he) didn't specify exactly about bed making she wanted to know. I had another reader, inspired by my kitchen, ask me what I cook and how I serve it (she liked my ironstone...).

If you have a thought or two, please feel free to pass them along. I hope your summer is safe, fun, and happy. And I will leave you with this:

"No matter what you do in life, stand up for yourself because no one can do it for you." Alfred Maxson (as said to me at age 10 by my father)

From my house to your house,



Garden Antqs Vintage said...

Elizabeth, that was so sweet. Thanks for sharing a tender moment about your grandmother. Congrats to you both on becoming owners of the barber shop. It will take the both of you to run it. Your honey cutting hair and you redoing it!

sepiadreams said...

Love this post...So poignant and heartfelt. Anything you write about would be welcome......Get to feeling better.....Love Tiina...

Debra@CommonGround said...

Dear Elizabeth, it's so good to hear from you. Congratulations to Randy for his new shop, and good for you, that you are in tune with your own body and health to know when it's best to rest and then re-charge.
We met last summer when you and Diane came to Ozark, Mo. and visited Leola's Antiques. I started a blog in June and I am totally loving it. Thanks for letting us in on your life.
Take care of yourself.
Blessings, Debra

Myrna said...

Oh wow, Elizabeth! Where to begin? First off, I will be really looking forward to 'after' pics of that lovely and ever-so-huge home!
And what a blessing you and Randy have been to Clifford..to be so sensitive and compassionate in a "me first" world. That example you described reminded me of my favorite quote by St.Francis of Assisi and one I try to live by "Preach the gospel where ever you go, and if necessary, use words". You just showed Clifford God's love by your kindness. Beautiful story!
Another beautiful story (you're a wonderful writer, by the way) is Randy's Grandma. I am so sorry for you and Randy's loss~ I understand..in fact just blogged about Steve's grandma a little bit ago. Only I was blessed with her in my life for many years before she died. And you, only a little while. But she made her mark on you, touched your heart like no one else will...
I will be praying for you as you deal with your health problems and good for you to slow down and take good care of yourself.
I love the idea of you writing about certain subjects..have a suggestion, but would you mind emailing me so I could email you privately about it?

It's always good to read your blog, Elizabeth, it's always worth the wait!

Sweet Old Vintage said...

Good Morning... I am so glad to see you post... I love to read and so enjoy the Pics.. They are always so dreamy and creative.... The pics today are way beyond the average persons dream but so enjoy them.... Just stunning.... Enjoy life.... We alll do have problems.... Your little message reminds me not to dwell on them on my posts to often and I do try hard not to do that....and still remain positive.... I will try harder even more after reading your post.... Thanks... Will be looking forward to your next post...

Unknown said...

Welcome back! I'm sending good thoughts to you to aid in your good health... I'm rather liking the 'vintage-ness' of Randy's shop! I have never seen sinks that look like jadite! I love that! Maybe just enhance the vintage aspects and keep the charm?? :-) Tami E.

paperjunk-lc said...

As always it great to your voice when you write. I always enjoy your updates.

Lana Manis said...

Dear Elizabeth ~
It's good to see you back, even if for a short time.
I'm so sorry to hear about the death in the family and your health; my prayers are with you and your family.
Congratulations to Randy! I'm sure he is as happy as can be!
Enjoy your sabbatical ~ take care of YOU.
When you are writing and giving out advice, I'd love some suggestions about storage for workspaces. I've remodeled the garage into a work studio (you can find my shop through my blog), but I still have most everything in tote boxes. I'd planned on adding caninetry and found pieces such as dressers, armoires, etc. to fix up, but am unsure of arrangeing everything (once I find and purchase them).
Have a lovely day!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Debra!

Yes, I remember you - and thank you for writing!

Glad you started a blog - it IS addicting, isn't it? One wouldn't think so by the way I haven't been regular lately - but that doesn't mean that I haven't thought about writing on it ALL the time - I could spend all day writing because it IS so addicting ;-)

Take care,

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Myrna,

Thanks for writing - and yes, I will email you. I always love when I click onto your blog because when I see your photo it always makes me laugh (in a good way). I have such a TERRIBLE memory for names and when someone writes me, I most likely click on their site to remind myself who is who and when I click on yours, and I see your photo, I always smile because your photo is so cute.

Your emails and comments always lift me up!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Lana,

Thanks for writing! What a great suggestion!! In fact, Randy and I have a garage to organize, our basement, and I have my studio. I will be showing my tiny office soon as well - which shows how I used storage in there. I think a posting on storage would be a great idea - and it would give me the "boost" I greatly need to get my HUGE, HUGE mess of a basement in order - FINALLY. Thanks for the kick in the butt :-)


Unknown said...

You know Elizabeth, I have to tell you...when I'm feeling uninspired and want something beautiful to look at, I find myself opening your blog. I can go all the way back, re-read and dream over the pictures as if I've never seen them before. Everytime I see them, it's like opening up a new picture book and I see something I hadn't noticed before! Thank you...Tami E.

the paris apartment said...

Hi Elizabeth, wow! you have a lot going on. First of all your client's house is stunning! What a project. And congrats to Randy for carving out a niche of his own, he's adorably happy and I'm so sorry about your grandma. At least you had her in your life, no matter how long, you were blessed. Most of all I'm glad you're stepping back to take time off. I did the same thing this month. If I hadn't I don't think I could have faced another day. Type A's like us go and go until we realize that we can't go no mo'! Doing things you love, writing your blog, helping your man, that's what will stop the stress and the headaches, I am so sure of it. And don't feel guilty! How many years have you been working without a break? I look forward to the new and refreshed you. As for what I'd love you to write about? Just your daily life, your pictures, your trinkets, the things that inspire you. You have a beautiful life, maybe it's time you enjoyed more of it! love, c

Debe said...

I can't remember who steered me to your blog, maybe Karla..?? But I really enjoy and look forward to your posts. I thought your kitchen was extra-special when you got through with it and the barber shop will be special with your touch also. Hope your health issues get solved so you can do what you want to do! We take good health so for granted. I love seeing your ideas and although I have no special request, I request that you continue to show us special things as you can. Blessings.

Dorothy Blum Cooper said...

Dear Elizabeth, what a beautiful testament to an obviously beautiful lady with a lovely soul. I'm sure Mary would be most flattered. How fortunate she was to have inherited a Grand-daughter like you. Blessings and prayers your way for renewed strength and better health. All my best.


trash talk said...

You and I have something in common...when we have something to say, we write it all down. I tend to write small novellas-just can't help it...I have a lot to say.
You really packed a lot into that post. I am so proud for your Randy on his "new" shop. I love the photos of it. It reminded me of when I was little and I would go to the barber shop with my daddy (one of my fave things to do). I always loved the "men" smell in there...leather, talcum powder, shoe polish and tonic! I was fascinated by the little brushes the barber used, which is why I guess I search for them now!
Love hearing from you and seeing what you are up to. Drop us a line again soon! You're a tonic!

cathypentonatelier said...

Hey dear E....You are one of the sweetest people you know that...I love reading every one of your posts so I really don't care what you write about it is always brilliant...Very early morning here across the pond, can't sleep too many ideas for the shop and so little time now....lol!!! I wouldn't be doing what I am doing without all the inspiration you have given me over the years....Take good care of yourself my friend. Love C xx

Maminka Girl - Loribeth Robare said...

Just wanted to write and tell you how much I've enjoyed your blog and your stories, your kitchen make-over (brilliant)and this lovely story about your husband's shop.

All the best to you and hope you feel better soon.


| Perla | said...

Thank you for writing such a wonderful post!
I love those big windows and the amazing sunlight.
Congratulations to Randy, please post the after pics soon. I'd like to see pictures of Clifford as well.

Claudia said...

Congratulations to Randy - the new shop looks fabulous! I'm sure it is very exciting for you both! I'm sorry to hear you are not feeling well, Elizabeth. I hope that changes soon! It is good to hear from you again. Of course, take your break - you deserve it. You must take care of yourself first and foremost!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, Please keep us posted on your health. Kudos to you and your husband on everything you do!!! I love before and afters!! Please keep them coming!!!!
** Give Clifford a BIG Hug frm me!!!!

the wild raspberry said...

I love catching up on all your goings on....so sorry to hear about Randy's grandmother. That is a difficult loss. and sorry to hear that you aren't feeling well. I hope the doctors find a remedy very soon.

Congrats to your hubbie on getting his shop. How exciting for both of you!

The house you are working on ~ wow.
The lighting in that home is amazing!! and the furniture is gorgeous.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Unknown said...

Hi Elizabeth,
You've been on my mind lately and I decided to write and ask how things are going for you. We've never met, but I feel like I do know you, through your blog. I hope your health problems are on the mend and that your 'gold mining' expedition is going well.
I know I can speak for a lot of us out here when I say...we hope you're well, we miss you and look forward to your return.
All the best,
Tami E.

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