Writer’s Block? Create Something Else and the Muse Will Be In.

Yes, I have to admit it, at times I do have writers block. My character in my books, Granny, otherwise known as Hermiony  Vidalia Criony Fiddlestadt, occasionally backs me into a corner and I don’t know how to get out. I find when that happens turning to a different craft pulls me out and brings back my creativity. This is what happened to me this weekend. To bring my creativity back I got busy transforming a book shelf that someone gave to me FREE!

Here are the steps I used. Like it, don’t like it, whatever. I love it and it will have an established place in my home. I like quirky. That is the great thing with creativity, as long as you like what you create, it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes it unless you plan on selling it. Although, I am sure there are other quirky people out there. I present the steps to my new book shelf.

bs onlyThis is the bookshelf, scratched and blah, in my opinion. The wood had a veneer that would have been more work to sand and restain. The first step that I used was  decoupage.  I used Mod Podge Gloss Lustre because I like gloss. Then I got out my trusty craft papers and started to glue. I chose my papers at random and decided to do somewhat of a crazy quilt with the papers. I had no rhyme or reason, just had fun with it.paper without paint


Next I found some old paint, I am trying to use up things I have. The paint was a soft, light green. I painted the edges, ,the spindles and the legs. I didn’t completely cover it as I like the scuffed look. After I used the green, I used my Folkart Metallic Inca Gold paint. I love gold, and I did x’s between the squares and pieces to it look like stitching. I also scraped the corners with the gold craft paint and ran it around the spindles and legs, sparsely, to highlight them. Once the craft paper dried from being glued on with the decoupage, I put on two coats of decoupage over the papers on the entire book shelf.

That left the back. The back was brown plywood. I took what was leftover of my light green, sample paint, that I had used on the edges and watered it down, and washed the plywood on the back. I added the saying from Theodore Roosevelt. I painted the saying in my gold, and highlighted it with purple.

I left the decoupage to dry overnight after the final coat. Between the coats, I used two coats,  I left a few hours.  You should know when it is drying between coats you need to check it for wrinkles, and use a roller or as I did, a soft cloth to smooth out the wrinkles. Don’t worry about it if you have some wrinkles, nothing is ever perfect and I like imperfection in my pieces. It gives them character. After it had tried, I used urethane Varnish and gave it a coat. You will now see the finished product. Remember I am an amateur and I needed to wake up my muse.

back bs bs 1 bs inside bs side 1 bs side 2 bs2 paper without paint top bs finished

It is prettier in person. Believe me. It shines and sparkles. Now, back to Granny. She’s got her shovel ready to do some damage.


Small Town Main Streets Are Coming Back!

Wells Main StreetSomething About Nothing by Julie Seedorf, published in the Albert Lea Tribune August 4, 2014

The words “Small town main streets coming back” are making headlines on television, radio and newspapers across the United States.

I heard the news on the radio one day. Apparently we are getting tired of the urban sprawl and shopping malls and returning to our roots. Old main streets in small and large communities across America are being revitalized by mom and pop shops, arts and culture and unique niche shops that have locals and tourists coming back to the main street of America to shop.

I noticed the comeback recently as I have visited small and large communities in the area. I had the pleasure of visiting Lake Mills, Northfield, Shakopee, Bricelyn and Kiester. Even tiny Walters is a destination to eat with diners coming for the great food at R&R Roadhouse Bar & Grill.

Driving through other small communities I have noticed the change in their main streets. No longer are the dilapidated historical buildings an eyesore. Many now stand proud having been restored to their earlier glory, or to a state of beauty that fits in with the historic nature of the buildings.

Well-taken-care-of buildings on main street America reflect the pride of the community, the heritage and the people that now have a vested interest in the community, and that is, its residents.

As I drive through the main street of Albert Lea I stand in awe at some of the old architecture and beauty of the buildings and dream of the past. I notice the change in the buildings as they are being brought back to their former beauty and treasured and cherished as a part of history.

We live in a throwaway society. Those who lived through the Great Depression were savers. They threw nothing away because there was no money to replace things, and that attitude lived long past the time that the Depression was over. People my mother’s age had stuff, but much of the stuff were not things of value.

Families today have stuff. They have their electronics, their toys, their clothes and the list can go on. They don’t keep it unless there is a little hoarding itch in their bodies. Things are dumped in trash, sold on a garage sale, and interests move on to the next best thing.

Homes are built alike and buildings and stores look alike in the strip malls of America. I recently visited a restaurant in a strip mall and was pleasantly surprised to find it was a fine dining restaurant, but it didn’t have the ambiance that a restaurant in an old restored building such as Jonnie Beans, Club 57 and the Starfire Restaurant located in the refurbished Miller-Armstrong building in Waseca has.

The strip mall restaurant won’t be remembered after it is gone. The strip mall will be another building on the landscape, probably torn down for something new to replace it. We are no longer valuing our new architecture. We are building throw away buildings.

I have to tell you that there is a different feeling walking down a main street in a small town that has valued their buildings and promoted their buildings as much as they have their businesses. Perhaps it is because I remember small town America that I feel this way, yet, I have to believe even those younger like the feeling of the atmosphere of the old buildings.

Exploring the main streets with my granddaughters is something we like to do. They admire the brick buildings and ooh and ah at the stores we visit that have been restored back to the original decor with the tin ceilings and the brick walls. These children learn to value the history of America every time we frequent a place that has taken a look at its roots, and tried to get back a little of the history.

What sparked this column about the main streets of America? As I listened to the broadcast on the radio of the re-emergence of Main Street, I happened to be driving down the main street of New Richland after a visit to Northfield.

I lived in New Richland for 10 years and I was checking out the community and reliving old memories. New Richland, small as it is, takes pride in its main street. The trees that line the streets lend a welcoming shadow to the buildings that were painted and updated and restored. It screams the small-town cozy feeling of the warmth of the past, welcoming and comforting to those who might walk the street.  I noticed the revitalized New Richland Library in a building that I previously remember being in pretty bad shape, but the beauty was restored. As I was listening to the radio I was admiring small town Main Street. Good job, New Richland.

We can’t save all of the architecture on Main Street, but those that are saved are bringing back Main Street USA. That’s what the program said. People are coming back to the main streets with the restored buildings and businesses that have relocated in these buildings.

There’s one other thing I noticed while visiting Main Street in many small communities, and the revitalized mom and pop businesses in larger cities, that is, the greeting you receive. You won’t find the friendliness, the helpfulness and the customer service that you get from mom and pop in the big-box stores. There are no generic greetings from Mom and Pop or their employees whether you are a regular customer or a stranger. Mom and Pop on main street make you feel like you have come home.

Visiting with Diana Sullivan at Lady Di’s Antiques and the owners of the new Vintage, Shabby, Restored, Recycle store in downtown Shakopee, I felt as if I were talking with old friends and in a much smaller community such as my hometown instead of a metropolitan area. Eating the rolls from the bakery in downtown Shakopee that had been there for 35 some years, reminded me of the bakeries such as the former Fran’s Bakery and the Wells Bakeshop in my hometown of Wells. Visiting the small shops in Northfield gave me the same satisfying experience. It was worth wandering off of the chain store train to come back to the value of the past when customers were your friends and family, and were important.

Who wouldn’t want to visit a community that shows pride in the history of their buildings, shows pride in their businesses that fill those buildings, and lends history and friendliness to your visit? Welcome back, small-town main street. You were missed.