Swing pergola tutorial...

With spring just around the corner this is a great time to revisit one of my favorite tutorials. An AWESOME outdoor project that takes a bit of muscle but not a lot of brain power.

This swing pergola is a “MUST HAVE” in any yard…so break out a few basic tools and follow THIS tutorial so you can impress your friends and have a great place to nap in the warm summer days ahead!!!


Sparking "joy" and my thoughts on purging....

Marie Kondo,…founder of the KonMari method ….an “organizational guru” who is all the rage now thanks to her Netflix show.

Her book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is worth the read…if nothing else it may inspire you to get off your butt and get organized!

I follow her methods to some extent…but I kinda get hung up on the “verbage.”

Tidying up is what I do before I go to bed at night…pick this up, put that away, wipe the counter down, blow the cookie crumbs off the table. ( I shared here how I keep my house “clean” and I love this blog article on “tidy people.”)

What she refers to as “tidying up” is what I call an all out “purge assault.” It is when I empty out the entire drawer, closet or dresser and toss stuff i have to think about for more than 3 seconds…none of this “does it spark joy” thing. If I have to think about it’s usefulness or importance for more than 3 seconds it’s a goner!

Joy…I actually “googled” the definition of joy…

Dictionary result for joy

/joi/

noun

  1. 1.

    a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

    "tears of joy"

    synonyms:delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, ebullience, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, transports of delight, rapture, radiance;

I guess you could say there are some innate objects that can “spark joy.” But truth be told, I am going to save that “sparking joy” feeling, in the true sense of the word, for more important things…like important people in my life…because they are what bring me “great pleasure” and true happiness.

A casserole dish…not so much! I can honestly say there is not one word in the definition of joy that describes my feelings towards a casserole dish…or a highlighter pen…or even a comfy pair of shoes.

Do I NEED a casserole dish…yes…does it “spark joy” when I hold it? Probably not.

When I cleaned out my kitchen cabinets

…I found FIVE identical casserole dishes, two of which were missing lids…the question for me was not “do they spark joy” but rather WTFrick! Do I really NEED five identical casserole dishes, two of which don’t even have lids. If I have to think about that for more than 3 seconds, the answer is no…so then I start working my way down. Four? Three? Two…yes in less than 3 seconds, so three of them got tossed (tossed meaning donated in this case!)

If you think three seconds is too short of time to make such a profound decision, ask your husband if he loves you. What would your reaction be if he hesitated for three seconds?

I truly believe if innate objects spark “joy”…if they give you feelings of “delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, ebullience, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, transports of delight, rapture, radiance”… you may need to reevaluate what is important in your life.

People…your spouse, your children, your parents, you siblings, your dear friends…this is what should “spark joy.” And I kinda have to throw my pets in there too…as frustrating as they can be at times, they do bring me “joy".”

Yes, I believe our homes should spark feelings of happiness…peace…serenity…and even joy. But I BELIEVE it should be the “whole of the sum”…not individual little “things” that spark those feelings.

Look at (or even imagine) the perfect vignette in your home…maybe a reading nook…a perfect, comfy chair with a perfect little table decorated with beautiful little knick-knacks, perfect little throw and pillow, plush little rug, a reading lamp with the perfect bulb for reading…the walls around it are decorated with beautiful botanical prints…this space does indeed “spark joy.” But is it the WHOLE space…or is it each little individual element?

If my house was on fire, would I save members of my family and pets or my “stuff?”

So how do I stay organized?

I use the “pile method.” When I was a teenager my mom went in my room and emptied EVERYTHING into a big pile in the middle of the floor…then told me I wasn’t doing anything until the pile was sorted. Ugh!!!

But you know what, I find the “pile method” works wonders…I empty the entire master closet (or kitchen drawer or makeup drawer or dresser) into a huge pile in the middle of the floor…EVERYTHING!!

First, I use this opportunity to really deep clean the empty space.

Then I start working my way through the pile.

And remember, if I have to think about something for more than 3 seconds, it gets tossed!

Trash…sometimes the “stuff” is just plain ole’ trash. I watch those “Hoarder” shows and my first thought is IT’S JUST TRASH. Now, if you have some weird attachment to what is obviously “trash” I am going to strongly suggest you get some professional help.

How do I define “trash?” Anything a NORMAL person would not want. I have a lot of paint clothes….when it is time to get rid of it, I ask myself “Would a normal person want a landscape company t-shirt covered in paint?”

Trash.

When I am purging, I always keep a “hesitation bag.” You know, that stuff you just aren’t sure you want to get rid of…the jeans you hope to someday wear again, the sweatshirt your son brought you from his vacation 5 years ago, those dishes your mom gave you for Christmas that have a fancy gold rim so you can’t put them in the microwave or the dishwasher.

Dang…do I REALLY want to get rid of those things? So I put them in my hesitation bag/box and set it in the garage. In about 2-3 weeks, I pick it up, put it in the car and drop it off at the donation center….every time! (Don’t forget to get a receipt!)

And you know what…not one time have I regretted it.

There are also those items that really don’t need to be in the space you THINK they should occupy. I have small kitchen appliances I rarely use…like the three pot slow cooker I use Thanksgiving and Christmas, the blender I use 2-3 times a year to make salsa, the large coffee pot I use 1-2 times a year when I have company. Those are all stored in the hall closet. I have a large pantry in my master closet where I store my office supplies as well as my personal care stockpile…shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, soap, etc. Things you rarely use do not have to be stored in spaces that may be needed for daily use items, even though that is where you think it is SUPPOSE to go. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when you are tight on storage space!

My goal is to “purge” at least 1/2 of what is in the pile…whether it be trash, store elsewhere, donate or hesitation. I don’t always hit that goal, but I can usually make a pretty big dent. Everything put back into the space is folded neatly and clean…if I don’t want to clean it or fold it, I probably don’t care too much for it anyway…so it gets donated or trashed!

Also, I am not big on cute baskets, boxes and bins. As I have mentioned before, I like to see what I have…

(Again, you can see here how I “thought outside the box” and moved my pots and pans into the pantry.)

If things are in a box or basket, I probably don’t know what I have. If I have things that need to be organized in a box or bin (like ribbon or cords) I put them in clear storage tubs so I can see what is in there!

The older I get the less tolerant I am of “stuff.” I see all those cute organizational tools like baskets, bins and boxes and I think, “do you REALLY need all that “stuff?” How many serving spoons do you REALLY need, how many coffee cups do you REALLY need, how many RCA cables do you REALLY need!

I just don’t think “stuff” should “spark joy” in the real sense of the word.

Like everything else, I say DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! Read the book and try this method of “tidying up.” It is a simple little read and like me, you may find motivation to “tidy up.” If the process works for you, GREAT!

If this methods gets your life and home in order, I am all for it. Because in the end, a home that is your haven, the place that brings you peace and serenity, THAT is something that sparks joy!

Another MCM dresser makeover!

This is not a dresser…this is a chest of drawers. I think there is often confusion, and I am the world’s worst at referring to a chest of drawers as a dresser.

There is a difference!

But seriously who cares…lol!

Regardless of what you call it, it was A MESS! But oh the potential.

My very first love…MCM pieces. It would take a month of Sundays to link to all the MCM pieces I have refinished…just search MCM or mid century on this site. Truth be told I would have kept every one of them if I didn’t have a fear of being featured on Hoarders. So I find pieces I love, give them a good little makeover and am sincerely happy when someone else gives them a good home.

In spite of all it’s flaws, I loved this piece. It had the normal wear and tear, a seriously cruddy finish, a chipped wood handle (aren’t those wood handles AMAZING!!!!) and what I THOUGHT was some stains around the hardware on the top drawer…turns out it is a beautiful wood inlay. But you couldn’t really tell because the finish was so icky. (The missing knob was in the drawer…yipeee!)

Let’s be honest, we will all have a pretty worn finish after 60 years on this earth!

My first thought was to paint the wood handles an accent color so I could repair the chip. My daughter suggested I just strip them first. So glad I listened to her. I used this process to strip the drawer fronts, handles and legs…the old stain came off the wood handles and revealed a beautiful white wood (oak, teak? Couldn’t tell)….LOVE!!! I sanded the chip down…and you know what, I can live with it….it is obvious it isn’t the way it is suppose to be but HEY…this is a vintage piece and vintage pieces are going to have a few boo-boos!

The drawer fronts and base were stripped and oiled, the cabinet was given a KSTP treatment (Kilz, sand, tack and painted with white high gloss enamel)

(After I took the pictures, I saw the VERY fine over spray on the top drawer…curses…a little mineral spirits cleaned it right off!)

Personally, I love the high contrast of the wood handles and walnut veneer. The Lane Acclaim tables I collect have the same stark contrasting wood detailing when I refinish them…LOVE!

Often vintage pieces would have been stained and finished so all the differing woods and the entire piece had a “uniform” look and the grain detail was toned down a bit. I say LET IT SHINE BABY!!! If you are a “purist” and want vintage pieces to reflect their original state, you probably don’t want to use the processes I use to refinish pieces!

I am all for exposing the grain and the natural color of the wood.

And I am all for bringing the old pieces back to life!

MORE makeovers...

Surprisingly I have MORE makeovers to share. The weather has been fairly cold and dreary but we have had enough warm days here and there to get a little work done. I get kind of lazy during the winter months…when it is cold and dreary I like to curl up and read. When it is warmer, I NEED to be out working…either at the apartments or on projects.

This first dresser makeover is something you could pretty much do inside on a cold day.

The only thing I had to take it outside to do was distress and seal. But honestly you could do both inside.

I use latex paint for my chalk paint recipe (5 tbs. of Plaster of Paris, 3 tbs. of water, mixed well, then add 2 cups of flat latex paint) and that can used inside.

To do a “wet sand” you would use a sponge with a scrubby on one side…something like this…

After the second coat of chalk paint, before it has thoroughly dried, you would take your sponge, wet it (DAMP NOT DRIPPING!) and start “scrubbing” the areas you want to distress…kind of like dry sand distressing. Keep a bucket of water on hand to rinse the sponge periodically. Doing it like that cuts down on the “dust” created when you dry sand, so you can do it inside.

Then I just seal the entire piece by brushing on a polycrylic (or wax if that is your preference.)

Rather than spend the money on all new hardware, I painted the existing hardware. I use a spray primer and spray paint so that needs to be done outside…but truthfully, you could live with the existing hardware until warmer weather…or just replace it.

But all in all, you COULD do this entire project inside…and it is well worth the time when you consider how much better it looks!

This next piece pretty much had to be done outside on warmer days…I wanted a high gloss lacquer finish on the cabinet and that entails spraying. And I wanted to strip the old finish on the drawer fronts and that definitely has to be done outside.!

I removed and labeled each drawer…that is a MUST because the drawers need to go back into their original position…just mark the underside with a pencil.

I removed the old finish on the drawer fronts using THIS process! I know I refer back to this tutorial a lot, but it is the BEST way to remove old finish or paint…it works and on projects like this, it probably only took me about 30 minutes to remove the old finish on these drawer fronts. Once the old finish was removed, I applied three coats of tung oil finish, rubbing with 0000 steel wool and tack cloth between each coat.

I sprayed the “cabinet” with Kilz, sanded and wiped with tack cloth, and then sprayed 3 LIGHT coats of white lacquer (KTSP).

As you can see from the “before” picture, it did not have legs…but it would have originally and there was even places on the underside to screw in the legs. I ordered new legs HERE and stained them to match the oiled drawer fronts.

Each is completely different and each required a different technique…but both were relatively simple and make a huge impact.

AGAIN, I am sharing how easy it is to do this because AGAIN…

LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO LIVE WITH UGLY FURNITURE!



Just ANOTHER makeover!!!

A few weeks ago I promised to share some of these makeovers….

I shared the details of this one….

here….

It sold in a couple of days!

This chest was a mess…

It is solid wood and pretty sturdy. A few of the drawer tracks needed some minor repairs but all in all it was a decent piece…just super ick.

Again, I have to have my “wood fix.” Since the drawer fronts were solid wood, I decided to use gel stain on them.

First I removed all the old hardware and gave the entire piece a good cleaning with a mild detergent.

There is no need to remove the old finish when using gel stain…maybe a light sanding to remove any boogers and dull the shine on the existing finish.

I ONLY use General Finishes brand gel stain. I applied three LIGHT coats with an athletic sock over a rubber glove, allowing each coat to dry overnight. The first coat will look like crud, the second will look a tad better, the third coat looks awesome. I sprayed on polycrylic to seal them. General Finishes has a wipe-on poly and it is pretty awesome…but I had polycrylic on hand so that is what I used.

I sprayed the “cabinet” with Kilz, sand, tack and latex paint (KSTP). I ALWAYS use an additive with paints I am going to roll and brush…Flotroel for latex.

New hardware…and PRESTO….

Another piece saved from the clutches of ugly and dated!
I share these makeovers to remind you….IT’S NOT HARD to take dated, ugly furniture and turn it into something you will be proud to have in your home.

Life is too short to live with ugly furniture!

Another antique chest makeover...

I promised last week to share all the dresser and chest of drawer makeovers I have been working on. This time of the year it is tough to get a lot of work done over several days because of the temperatures…fortunately this dresser was one I could work on inside.

Takes a little “strategizing” to figure out what I need to do outside on warm days and what can be done inside on cold days.

I knew I was going to paint the cabinet so I managed to get it (and a few others) Kilzed on a warm day. I try to avoid using Kilz inside because it is SUPER stinky…and I like to use the spray kilz on smaller pieces and that can’t be done inside. Sanding and wiping with tack cloth can be done when it is a tad colder so no biggy. I had to strip the drawers and top outside, but that can be done in the cold as well. I was able to bring everything inside to oil the drawers and top and paint the cabinet!

Again, this one didn’t need any major repairs…the only real boo-boo was one missing handle. This hardware was one of the most unique I had ever seen….not only the style but the fact that it was installed “vertically” vs. “horizontally.” Different…I like…so I was determined to use as much of the original hardware as I could.

I removed all the hardware. First I primed them with “metal primer” then I sprayed them with black lacquer.

Since one of the handles was missing and I knew there was NO way I was going to find a replacement, I decided to remove the handles on the top two drawers and replace them with knobs.

That meant the holes in the top drawers had to be puttied…and there is no good way to “disguise” putty holes without painting…but the wood on these drawer fronts was so pretty I really didn’t want to paint them!

The drawer on the right has been stripped…the drawer on the left has not. I just love how “clear and clean” the wood looks after removing the old finish (I used THIS process! Super easy!)

I decided the best way to disguise the puttied holes was to paint a stripe down the drawer fronts. I did this BEFORE applying the tung oil finish.

The stripe needed to be pristine…absolutely NO bleed through…and we all know how tough that is! I read a few tutorials on preventing that…some suggested using modge-podge…one suggested using caulk. I went with the caulk suggestion and it worked like a charm.

I used blue painter’s tape to tape off my stripes, then I ran clear LATEX (NOT silicone) caulk along the edges of the tape….

Then I used my finger to “mash” the caulk along the edge of the tape and wipe off any excess. WORKED LIKE A CHARM! Zero bleed through! I used clear caulk so any caulk that bleed through didn’t show!

I painted the stripes and cabinet. I used a grey latex I had on hand. I added Floetrol…ALWAYS add a paint additive…Penetrol for oil based paints, Floetrol for latex. I use a 4”foam roller and a high quality brush to minimize brush strokes and roller marks. And again, always apply 2-3 LIGHT coats to avoid drips and runs. I oiled the drawer fronts and top with 3 coats of tung oil finish (sand and tack between coats), drilled new holes for the knobs and reattached all the hardware and PRESTO!

Cute as a bug’s ear and super simple!

I just love bringing these pieces back to life!!!!

Antique dresser makeover....

It’s no secret that this antique dresser is really not “my style.” But I knew it could be beautiful with just a little work…

Okay, so it needed A LOT of work!

One of the first things I do when I buy an old piece like this is really examine it and figure out what, if anything, needs repairs and what is “salvageable.”

It would have been super easy to just slather the whole thing in paint, but I love the combination of paint and wood tones…and if I can salvage any of the wood by refinishing rather painting, I’m going to.

The drawers were in excellent condition…they were intact and they did not “stick.” The only real issue was the missing veneer on the front of the cabinet….a little wood filler and sanding fixed it right up.

The top was in relatively good condition…it did have a few “blemishes.” I have “fixed” blemishes using oxalic acid and it works wonders on solid wood surfaces. But this top is a wood veneer and I haven’t had as much luck on veneers…so I just “embraced” the blemishes and let it be what it is…an old piece with a history.

The drawer fronts were in mint condition…just super yucky. The top and drawer fronts were easily stripped using the 1/2 acetone and 1/2 lacquer thinner mixture. I scrubbed them with #2 steel wool and the mixture, wiping with old rags from time to time. After all the old finish was removed, I “washed” them with mineral spirits and applied three coats of tung oil finish, rubbing with 0000 steel wool and tack cloth between each coat. No stain, just a clear finish!

Rather than refinish the “cabinet” I chalk painted it with homemade chalk paint. My recipe for chalk paint is 5 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris and 3 tablespoons of water, mixed well. Then I add 2 cups of flat paint. I painted two coats and distressed, then sealed it with polyurethane. Again, I do not wax over chalk paint…I just don’t think it is a durable finish.

I was SUPER pumped that ALL the original hardware was there…even the top drawer knobs. They had been replaced but the original knobs were in the drawers…major score! They are just so unique and authentic!

Often the stain is mixed into whatever finish is applied. They did this to make the piece look “uniform.” When you strip the original finish, there is a good chance you are going to strip the original stain color…you WILL see the wood grain and there is a good chance the “color” of the piece will be different. For example, the drawer fronts on this piece were a different tone than the top when all the old finish was stripped away…personally I LOVE this look! But if you want that “uniform” look you need to be prepared to stain the piece…and since different woods stain differently, I would suggest using a gel stain application…that is the only way to ensure a “uniform” look. Or in this case, you could paint the top and only leave the drawers original. To each his own!

This is just one of many I shared on Instagram…and there are even more that aren’t pictured here. Over the next few weeks I will share how each dresser’s makeover!

Each one required a different process to bring it back to life!

Stay tuned!

Building a cat shelter and a new dresser....

I don’t normally share “life hacks” but I just have to share this Kitty shelter. I hope the video tutorial stays up but just in case it doesn’t….basically you take a large storage tub, put a styrofoam cooler inside it…cut a little opening in the tub and cooler…”insulate” around the cooler with blankets (or insulation if you have it) and put a warm blanket in the cooler.

If you have followed along you know I am somewhat of a “cat person.” I have two indoor cats, Litty and Mr. Jinx, one indoor/outdoor cat, Ms. Kitty and then there is Finley. I truly believe Finley is autistic. He isn’t “mentally challenged” he just has “severe social anxiety.” He is terrified of everyone but me and now he will barely come to me. Occasionally I can entice him with food and get him close enough to snatch him up, but he pretty much avoids ALL human contact.

I have had him for 8 years. Before Cleo, he would come in the house but only appear after I was snuggled in bed…then he would get in bed with me. But when Cleo started sleeping with us, he went outside and will not come in the house. Last year when we had a week long deep freeze, I managed to grab him one day only because he was dang near frozen. I brought him in the house to warm him up but he was obviously terrified and spent the entire time hiding…as soon as he could bolt outside he was gone…and there he remains to this day.

Needless to say I worry about him constantly. I have no doubt he has found a cozy spot under the storage building to avoid the elements but I still worry.

When I saw this kitty shelter I immediately bought the stuff to make one for him.

It took a few day, but he eventually moved in and seems quite content in his new warm bed! I placed it in a spot I believe is sheltered from the cold wind and next to the dryer vent so the warm air can blow on it.

I insulated mine with actual insulation because that’s what I had on hand. I put my snuggie in for his bedding…I don’t wash it so it will retain it’s “smell.”

IF you can entice your kitty to come in the house when it is super cold, that is always best. If not, this is a perfect “hack” for an outdoor kitty or stray kitties.

MORE DRESSER MAKEOVERS….

I spent most of last week working on a few dressers. I have finished those up but now I have another batch to start on. It is super tough to find good days to paint outside during the winter months. Dang, I need a heated shop!

This was a teaser I posted on Instagram…

They all turned out super cute but each got a different treatment. So over the next few weeks I will share each one and explain what I had to do to each to bring them back to life!

In the meantime I want to share one that has been lurking in my garage since summer.

When I bought it, it was a nasty mess….

Someone had “stained” it and changed out the hardware. Eck! I think I remember that it had a few wonky drawers. No biggy but AGAIN, make sure you make any repairs BEFORE you make it pretty!

I removed all the hardware and gave it the old KSTP treatment (Kilz, sand, tack, paint)

New hardware….

Again, I’m stuck on white…blah. This weekend we took four dressers into 410 Vintage and ALL of them were white! B.O.R.I.N.G.

I have vowed to use a little color on the dressers I am working on right now!

Stay tuned!


Modifying a Dillingham MCM dresser....

So often I buy mid century pieces fully intending to clean them up and sell them. But then, well, I don’t. Inevitably I fall in love with them or one of my kids does (just search mid century on this site…you will see)

Such was the case with this mid century walnut Dillingham dresser….

It did have a few boo-boos…a broken corner piece I was able to fix with a little wood glue…

A tiny bit of chipped veneer I decided to ignore…

And of course the finish was a little worn and tired looking and needed some freshening. First I tried a little Restor-a-finish….

You can kind of see the difference…the right side has been wiped down with Restor-a-finish.

It helped a tad but in the end I scrubbed it down with mineral spirits and steel wool and applied 2 coats of tung oil finish…brightened it right up and blended all the scratches and wear…after all it is a 50+ year old piece…it’s gonna have a few nicks and dings. But again, nothing terribly glaring.

Even though the issues were relatively minor, I hesitated to sell it. I considered painting the sides to disguise the biggest issue…the broken corner.

Enter my kid! Matt absolutely LOVED it and wanted it for an entertainment cabinet!

The dark walnut matches his vintage Lane tables perfectly and like me he has a real affinity for MCM pieces.

So I went to work modifying it for his needs..specifically he needs a place for his turn table.

(Side note…I get tickled at the newest generation of vinyl lovers. People my age remember how thrilled we were to get away from bulky old record players and vinyl records that scratched and skipped. Cassette tapes and walkmans and boom boxes…life changing! Now the younger generation have circled back around to “vinyl” and think they have discovered the greatest thing since sliced bread…HA!!! See, if you live long enough, it all comes back in style!)

So…how to modify this dresser without changing it too much.

I decided to make the bottom two drawers one deep drawer. That entailed removing the face front of the middle drawer and attaching it to the black face frame and bottom drawer…creating what appeared to be two separate drawers…but is actually just one deep drawer.

Confusing I know…let me see if I can show you what I mean in pictures.

First I had to cut the face frame in half to detach it from the cabinet.

Since it is a laminate material, I knew I needed to tape it first to keep it from “splintering.” ALWAYS tape laminate before you cut it and draw your cut mark on the tape!

I could have used a skill saw with a trim blade to make the cut. But I knew a skill saw wouldn’t work to cut the little shelf inside that separated the two drawer spaces. So, darn, I had to buy a new tool…I hate that when that happens! (NOT!)

I have a small Dremel that has similar functions but this little guy is pretty heavy duty…and it worked like a charm!

Next I used my Kreg jig and glue to attach 1x2 pieces of oak to both edges of the face frame. The drawer fronts and face frame only over lapped by about 1/8”…attaching the oak allowed me to secure the face frame to the drawer fronts with glue and screws.

We used a hole saw to cut a hole in the back of the cabinet to feed electric wires through.

That was pretty much all the modification this dresser needed to turn it into the perfect entertainment cabinet!

In the photos you get a peak of a few of the changes Matt has made to his house since he bought it a year ago…the painted fireplace I shared here and the new tile I haven’t shared yet.

I have promised for A YEAR to share a few of the projects he has completed on his house…he opened up the entry, painted his kitchen cabinets and installed glass cabinet doors, built open shelving in his kitchen and laid new tile in the entry and around the fireplace. He has even built a little storage shed! I am so proud of his “projecting” so while I was there taking pictures of his new entertainment cabinet, I snapped a few of his entry and kitchen and I PROMISE to share those next week.



Today I muse...about smoking...

I have several DIY projects lined up to share but I decided I want to “muse.”

Or rather lecture.

Let’s just say I want to share a “journey.”

I hesitate to say “I WAS a smoker.” Truth be told, I still am a smoker…I just CHOOSE not to smoke now.

Six years ago I stopped smoking. I smoked for most of my adult life. I can still remember my very first cigarette. I was 20…it was a Virginia Slim menthol…on a road trip…with a friend who smoked.

Notice I did not say “I quit smoking.” To me, that would imply I will not do it again. I can’t make that promise.

I have “quit” many times. Many times for years at a time. I tried gum, mints, hypnosis, drugs, cold turkey. I quit when I was pregnant. Every time I would quit I would go out and make a big ticket purchase…like new furniture or a new car. After all, smoking is an expensive habit and if you “quit” smoking you have all that extra money to spend on other things!

Inevitably I would end up with a car payment AND the cost of a carton of cigarettes every week!

I can honestly say this is the longest I have ever gone without smoking. But it is a daily CHOICE I make. The physical addiction is LONG gone, but the psychological craving for a cigarette still blindsides me on occasion.

A therapist once told me that smoking was one of the hardest things for a woman to give up because we use it as a “reward.” Kids down for a nap, smoke a cigarette…mopped the kitchen floor, smoke a cigarette… laundry all washed, folded and put away, smoke a cigarette.

And you know what…he was right. When I looked at my “pattern” of smoking it was pretty predictable.

I see the effects of smoking almost daily in my work. I own apartments and every time I have to clean and repair an apartment a smoker lived in I have to Kilz the walls and ceilings before I paint.

This is what “white” walls (seriously, they were WHITE!!!) look like after a smoker lived in this unit for about a year…you can see where I have rolled white Kilz….the “yellow” is pure nicotine on once white walls and ceilings. (This is AFTER we had wiped the walls and ceilings with ammonia water!)

I have found that oil based Kilz is the ONLY thing that will seal nicotine (and water stains!) so it does not bleed through the paint.

Don’t even get me started on the SMELL!!!! Kilz is some nasty smelling stuff but stale cigarette smoke is just fricking gross!

You don’t smoke inside you say? Good for you…and your spouse…and your kids…and your pets!

But what about YOUR insides…if one year of smoking inside can do this to a wall, what is it doing to your lungs?

For me, I developed a chronic cough and congestion and honestly I was pretty low energy.

Not to mention the other downsides to smoking. It stinks…sorry but all the perfume and breath mints in the world can’t cover the smell of cigarette smoke!

It RULES your life….seriously, you have to plan every activity around cigarettes…when you go out to eat, when you fly, when you go on a long drive, when you go to the movies, when you go to a play, when you go to a sporting event. When and where you can get your nicotine fix completely controls every activity.

When I was traveling, I only booked layovers in airports that had smoking lounges…seriously! And OMG if my flight was over 2 hours long!!!!

Same with long car rides…it is one thing to stop every 4 hours to stretch and pee…but to have to stop every 2-3 hours to smoke a cigarette was a fricking nightmare!!!!

So…how have I managed to not smoke for the last six years you ask?

I want to say I am NOT an “addiction specialist.” Like my weight loss journey I can only share my experience…what I did and what has, to date worked for me!

What I DID NOT do? I didn’t set “a day to stop,” I didn’t tell my friends and family I wasn’t going to smoke anymore, I didn’t have some big “ripping the pack up” ceremony, I didn’t toss all my lighters….

First, I “bad talked” the cigarettes. Before I ever “stopped,” I made myself really focus on all the negatives of the nasty habit…you make me stink, you make me feel bad physically, you made me leave the restaurant early, you made me freeze to death at half time or during the commercials, you made me miss my son’s touchdown pass/homerun/last minute game winning shot, you make it hard to afford groceries/a new couch/a vacation, you make me dry clean my sweaters every time I wear them!

Notice I said “you” rather than “it.” See what I did there?

Just like focusing on “the positives” in your life can change your attitude for the better, focusing on the negative can change your attitude about smoking.

It is no longer just something you do, it is a “baaaaad” thing that is literally controlling your life!!!

By the time I put down my last cigarette, I was a tad ticked!

Good…you want to be (and should be) ticked off that the nasty, expensive habit has such a negative impact on your life…stay focused on that!

Second, I had to change up some routines. Rather than going out for a smoke after I got all the laundry done or the floors mopped, I would go file my nails, or brush my teeth, or pick my nose….ANYTHING other than what I use to do. I no longer sit outside on the porch and drink my coffee in the mornings…because that was my “cigarette time.” (Be careful to NOT substitute food for cigarettes!)

I use an ecig (an Ecig…NOT a vape…this is the brand I use but I am NOT endorsing it….just saying). Okay, so I know there is conflicting data on whether these things are bad for you. But you know what…there is hard core proof and data that smoking cigarettes is super bad for you. So until there is some hardcore proof that these little ecigs are harming me, I will use them.

Why? Because as I said, the “craving” to smoke a cigarette will literally blindside you…you will desperately want a cigarette for whatever reason…you’ve had a bad day, you got a whiff of cigarette smoke and it smells sooooo good…for me, it is seeing it on television…when I can’t smell it, it looks sooo relaxing.

The ecig gives me the ability to “smoke” without going out and buying a pack of cigarettes and having to start all over!

I also stay hyper-focused on the positives of NOT smoking! My car/home/clothes/breath smell better, I feel “healthier,” I don’t have to wash or dry clean my clothes every time I wear them, I have a few extra bucks to spend on positive things (like manicures and facials!), I can sit and gossip with my girlfriends after dinner rather than run outside and smoke, I can sit through an entire game/movie/play/flight/car trip without a “smoke break.” So many great things when a nasty habit isn’t controlling your life!

Which brings me to my final point. You may have to start over…repeatedly. Whether you use mints, gum, Chantix, hypnosis, stop cold turkey, get pregnant…whatever…there is a pretty good chance you may have to start, or rather stop, again.

But that is okay…DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP! Seriously, DO NOT turn the negative onto yourself! If you want to think negative, again focus on how bad the cigarettes are…not what a failure you are.

Because you didn’t “fail.” You stopped…for a day, for a week, for a month….maybe even for years. And if you can stop once, you can do it again.

There are absolutely NO good reason for smoking….but there is a lifetime of great reasons to stop.

No excuses.

YOU CAN DO IT!

That, my friends, is my soap box for the day!