Friday, December 20, 2013

Phoning It In: Project Updates

A Happy Badger is a busy badger, and whooo-wee am I busy. You are, too, I'm sure, so I'll keep this short.

I wanted to add a few updates to past projects, which I wrote about before finishing or having photos ready.

"We're Playing With Broken Glass!"

The jewelry rack and mirror--which we made out of an antique straight-backed chair, a busted hallway mirror, and lotsa hot glue--is all finished now. A few abandoned brass key hooks and brass drawer pulls have a new life as jewelry hooks.

"Is it for sale?" you ask with baited breath. Why, yes, it is....

"Why I Do Things Wrong: 3 Examples"

You may remember this post, you may not. It's funny, and worth (re)reading.

Anyway, I mentioned sticking a chisel, exactly like this one in fact, into my wrist while removing a tattered veneer from my first renovation project, an antique vanity table.

A few Sacramento Friends remembered the vanity table, but the rest of you loyal readers (all seven of you, and I cannot express how much I love you) might want to see the piece and decide for yourself if my blood was well spent.

So, Here It Is!

 Ya like? Ya like?
Which drawer is real and which is Memorex?
Real English walnut:

Mahogany veneer, painted to look like walnut, maybe:
Today, my mom mistook the painted one for the real, which is like an early Christmas gift for me.
Then, she demanded, "So, when are you getting this thing out of our house?" Sigh, brief Christmas this year.

Any takers?

Copyright 2013, Tanya Monier

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Where to Take The Excess, pt. 5: Furniture Sharehouse

"$29.99 for a used reading lamp--at Goodwill?!"

Goodness knows I love my Goodwill, but too often, I'll check out the price of an armchair or child's desk and gasp at their nerve. And if I'm giving my stuff away, I don't want it to be priced so that the people who need it can't afford it.

Giving It Away. NOW.

Instead of just grumbling about the state of things (like I just did), seven years ago, Kate Bialo, with the help of The Junior League of Westchester on the Sound, created something amazing and essential-- Furniture Sharehouse, a furniture bank out by the Westchester Airport.

I met Kate Bialo, the Executive Director of Furniture Sharehouse, on an icy Wednesday morning.
This is Kate Bialo. I want to be her--all brains and all heart...and organized.
One glance around, and my heart warmed enough that I could forget my freezing toes.

Kind-eyed volunteers were helping clients select items of furniture to help rebuild their lives. Some lost everything they owned after being evicted from apartments. Some were foster kids who had aged out of the system. Some had run from abusive partners with nothing but their children and their lives. One bleary-eyed, but smiling, Yonkers woman had worked through the night, then rode two different buses so she wouldn't miss her chance to get her children beds, chairs, and a table for their new apartment.

 Bless the volunteers: the temperature, inside and out, was exactly the same 27 degrees on the day I visited.

So, how does this place work?

Furniture Sharehouse takes referrals from 30 local agencies, which often cover the $25 referral fee for their clients. Based on availability, need, and family size, clients then get to select essential items: mattresses and headboards, some chairs, a table, a sofa, a dresser, a nightstand, a mirror, two lamps, two end tables, a few incidentals...  

Each client's choices are identified by color; piles of furniture--tagged pink, yellow, blue, etc--are collected and moved into trucks by more volunteers.

Delivery fees--$75 to the curb or $150 to set up inside--are covered by the clients. This expense alone is too heavy for many, Bialo notes. Ashamed, many will simply miss their appointment--for which they waited 6 weeks--because they can not cover the entire delivery cost.

A new start, about to be loaded into the delivery truck
Since the Furtniture Sharehouse opened 7 years ago, it has given away more than 37,000 pieces of furniture to more than 7,000 families. 

Impressed? Want to help? Here's how!

1. Donate Goods: Here's the list of what they accept (Don't worry. We'll find another place to take your massive buffet and your waterbed....)

The Sharehouse itself has very short business hours for drop off: Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m, plus the 3rd Saturday of each month from 9:30 to 11:30 am.

CITY OF WHITE PLAINS: 87 Gedney Way, Weds. 2:00 - 4:00 pm, Sat. 9:00 am to 12:00 pm (April - October only)
LARCHMONT/MAMARONECK: Maxwell Avenue Recycling Facility: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 8:00 - 3:00; Sat. 9:00 - 11:45; closed Wednesdays (year-round)
VILLAGE OF TUCKAHOE: 15 Marblehead Road (year-round); Mon - Fri 6:30 -11:00 am & 12:30 - 2:00 pm

The bad news is that you generally have to be a resident to drop off, and no mattresses--which they desperately need!--can be dropped at the bins.

Clearly, we need to set up Municipal Collection Bins here in the River Towns.

2. Donate Funds: Bialo needs to raise more than $80,000 each year, just to cover warehouse rental and trucking costs. Any amount you can donate will help, and it's tax-deductible: Click here to learn more.

So, Westchester Friends, be proactive. Tell your friends about the Furniture Sharehouse now and save them from saying, "Oh, gosh, I wish I knew about that place before I threw all that stuff away!"

Not a Westchester Reader? Check out the web site of Furniture Bank Association of North America, which lists their US and Canadian Furniture banks by state. (And may I just add, good show, Northern California!)

Do Good, and make this Badger happy--Donate Today!

Copyright 2013, Tanya Monier

Thursday, December 12, 2013

DIY: Saving Bedside Table

Last summer--I think it was last summer--a mama friend unloaded a box of items from her home into my open arms. Some of the items, like these two carved elephants, were claimed by the kiddos.
Like their real counterparts, these elephants
cover a huge territory and can be found foraging
anywhere in our home.

Others languished in the back patio, like a homey maple bedside table with tattered, yellowing varnish.

Normally, I love natural wood, but this piece just seemed too country-cozy and dated.

In the waning days of summer, however, I kicked into Manic Squirrel Overdrive, even putting my children to work. We hauled this bedside table onto the grass and attacked with 120 grit sandpaper.

After all varnished surfaces were well sanded, I tried out a shell shaped drawer pull that I picked up at The Cherry Door. Ah, potential! Now, for a dose of color to evoke the sea.

The gentlemen at Wallauer's Design Center in Ossining never let me down. When no standard color seemed lively enough, they pointed out the custom tints chart. Bingo!

"For tinting Latex, Alkyds, Oil, Acrylic, Polyvinyl, etc."
By "etc," they mean "Your Clothes and Flesh." Be warned. 

Benjamin Moore Alkyd, Base 2, was able to support thorough tint saturation.

To lower the potential for kitsch, I chose Benjamin Moore's Alkyd "Atrium White" for the inner cubby. (Let's be clear: I have nothing against kitsch per se: you can see examples of that here, here, and here.)

Everyone raise a hand now to high-five me!-- for once, I remembered to use painter's tape on the dry turquoise edges before slapping Atrium White all over the interior. BTW: pull off the tape while the fresh paint is still fresh, to clean up any bits that inevitably get under the edges.

And here it is! Breezy ocean smell not included.
After my friend saw what a new coat of paint could do, she reclaimed it. I am returning this piece to her tonight. Hee, hee--I love my life!
Copyright 2013, Tanya Monier

Monday, December 9, 2013

DIY: How to Destroy a Perfectly Nice Leather Miniskirt

I have fantasies about paying for my family's next trip to Europe by selling my clever little crafts, especially my rather fabulous bookmarks. After a few local craft fairs, I must admit the sad truth: Craft does not pay. The money is in the "trash" resale business.

Still, I understand the fun and satisfaction of crafting. Sometimes, it's a sanity saver...a pricey little sanity saver.

To keep expenses low, I repurpose throwaway items and Goodwill finds. Here's an example:


For this project, you will need the following:

* One leather or suede skirt, ideally stained or otherwise ruined for regular wear
* A ruler
* Sewing chalk or pencil
* A pair of fabric shears or a very sharp blade
*1" Ribbon Clasps (available on Etsy--or from me, since I have literally hundreds)
* Jump Rings (widely available at craft stores and online)
* Needle nose pliers or Super Strong Fingernails
* Old beads and pendants
* Flexible jewelry wire (we strip insulation from trashed lamp cords to get copper wire)

For this demonstration, let's use this silvery-coated leather Esprit micro-mini, which I bought for $3 at the genius St. Barnabas Church Clothing Sale in Irvington, New York. It's a size 13, so lots of leather to work with.

Found these monstrously heavy 80s Overkill
earrings in a $10 Jug-O-Jewelry from Goodwill.
Here we go!

1. Slice out the lining.
2. Lay flat. Mark out 1" x 9" strips, using ruler.
3. Cut. Be bold! Fear will show in wobbly edges.
4. Clamp ribbon clasp to one end of leather strip, using pliers.
5. Pick out a pendant or a couple beads. You may need to attach them to each other using jewelry wire.
6. Attach to ribbon clasp loop using a jump ring. TWIST open jump ring for easy re-closing.

 Recognize bits of 80s Overkill earrings?

You can use old velvet or fabric ribbons, too; just trim to desired length, clamp a ribbon clasp on both sides, and attach pendant or beads to both ends.
Check out the Etsy shop from Nyack's own Sew What's New--super selection of vintage fabrics and ribbons.

Um, that's it. A cute way to encourage reading!

These are also mine, available at A Nu Toy Store in Tarrytown.

Guess what you are all getting for Christmas this year?

Copyright 2013, Tanya Monier

Friday, December 6, 2013

LAST CALL: Two's Company Warehouse Sale!

Westchester Friends, want to spend less this Christmas and see your money do some good?

Get in the car, right now, and drive to 275 Clearbrook Ave. in Elmsford. Just follow the signs for "Two's Company Warehouse Sale."
 It just goes on and on...

This year, Two's Company, local designers of ridiculous cuteness for home and body, are giving 50% of all sales to Westchester's own Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

Look at these faces--how can you resist?
Art, a natural blond, is halfway through his training with the lovely Kate.
Kathy is steeling herself to let go of Hardy, who has successfully completed his program. My goodness, those eyes...

Today, the Warehouse is open until 4 pm. Everything is 25% off, which means pretty much everything is 85% off retail.

Tomorrow, the last day of the sale, hours are 9-4. (And they mean it; don't show up late.) According to the VP of Sales, I can "rely on past experience" to tell you that while they are not officially announcing that tomorrow's discount is 50% off all prices...THEY WILL BE 50% off.

 I passed on these bean bag phone rests ($1.50), but you don't have to!

And it's not like they've run out of good stuff.

Hie thee to the 275 Clearbrook Ave, off of Rt. 100 or Rt. 9A. Just follow those pink and black signs.

Copyright 2013, Tanya Monier

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Where To Take The Excess, pt. 4: C & W Vacuum Repair Service

As I muddled my way through neighborhoods this fall, I noticed something undeniable: Folks throw away a lot of cleaning tools. Swiffers. Brooms, Mops. (Doesn't anyone play stickball with broom and mop handles anymore?) Cleaning pails. Vacuums. Oh, so many vacuums....

One evening, I saw four curbed vacuums on just one street, then came home to see my own tenant had put his one-month-old vacuum in the trash, too.

You may be thinking, "So what? Why not just buy a new Hoover for $100?" Other than the fact that their motors are so earsplitting that children, pets, and partners flee when you turn on a Hoover, it breaks! The brands I see curbed most often are Hoover and Dirt Devil. Humph. It's like the dead dictator of the FBI and Satan himself hold stock in landfill.

Who can help slow down this, ahem, sucky trend in trash? Wade, that's who!

Meet Wade!
On Tarrytown's bustling Main Street, C&W Vacuum Repair Service is easy to miss. I passed it hundreds of times before I found a need to stop in. Once I did, however, I made reasons to go back. Here's why:

1. Price: Wade informs me that the average repair job at C&W is between $50-75. That said, I have never paid more than $30 to have him clean and repair my vacuum, a 2003 Panasonic upright--which is ancient in vacuum years, and frequently clogged with the shed of my three longhairs (none of whom are pets).

2. Speed: Wade works quickly, so I can get back to doing what I love: cleaning house. (Excuse me for a minute while I go pour myself a shot of cooking sherry and weep...)

3. Variety: Do you see vacuums in the front window? No! That's because Wade is a man of many talents. He sharpens knives to a murderous edge, repairs and sells vacuums and vacuum parts, and also lamps,

 Buy the Rooster; then send me a photo of it in your home.



and clocks.

and maybe those toys; I didn't ask.

And his use of wall storage in this small store would make Ikea proud. When you go in, just look around--and up!
 You are not imagining things: that IS a bullwhip.

I gave Wade my tenant's new-but-busted Dirt Devil, and picked up lamp harps to finish my Night Of A Thousand Lamps project.
 Win-Win, I say.

So, keep it local, River Towners, and if you just cannot bear the thought of repairing your vacuum, turntable, or lamp, DON'T DUMP IT. Give it to Wade. He's got Hustle. And I mean that as a compliment.

Copyright 2013, Tanya Monier

Monday, December 2, 2013

Night of a Thousand Lamps

I ate nothing but cold leftover stuffing this weekend, so focused was I on turning our basement into Santa's Shady Sub-Contracting Workshop.

Many, many delightful creations are taking form, so that I may have enough cuteness to sell at a local craft sale this Friday. More on these later.

I've discussed recently the disturbing uptick in lamp shade piles around my home and basement. Something needed to be done.

Last week, I sold this pretty gold pedestal table, which I found on a curb during a family day trip to NYC, to an aspiring music producer.

As per usual, I asked if he needed anything else for his studio.

"ANYTHING brass, gold, black, I'm in," he replied.

"Oh, man, I have some lamps for you..." I laughed.

I sent him these pics.
Lemme tell ya, I got good instincts.
He got all happy and gave me the go-ahead.

Both lamps needed rewiring, which involves cutting things.

Without my dear hubby, I'd probably have just cut through the webbing of my finger again (yes, again; I clearly am developing a phobia) and called it a night.

Dan (The Man) did the following to repair each lamp:
1. snipped off the old, torn-up wires;
2. stripped about 1/2 inch of insulation off the old wire and the new piece to be spliced;
3. matched the wires (look for the ridge on the edge of one insulated side of the wire and match it to the ridge on the new wire's insulation--just feel a lamp wire, you'll get what I mean);
4. twisted them together and screwed on little plastic caps;
5. wrapped black electrical tape around the repair.

The End. Fifteen minutes. The Man is a lamp repair master.

The rest of the repairs were easy for me--new shade harps and bulbs, and a thorough cleaning. BONUS! I got to use one of my lamp shade finds--a broad, oval linen shade--on the smaller lamp. Only 27 more wayward shades to go....

And here they are, ready to add some 70s funkification to a Westchester recording studio.

"Jungle Boogie," anyone?

Copyright 2013, Tanya Monier

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hustle, pt. 1: Jiddo

My favorite second-hand furniture dealer, Hank of Hank's Alley in Tarrytown, looked me dead in the eye a few weeks ago and gruffed, "Honey, you got hustle."

The occasion was no more significant than a wander through the Alley, which resulted in my sorta baffling decision to buy this pair of salt and pepper shakers.

But Hank knows me well for selling my finds at rates that slowly add to my family's travel fund and give him plenty of room for profitable resale.

I accepted Hank's Rat Pack era observation appropriately, I thought, with a pouty smile and cartoonish eyelash flutter.

"Uh, I meant that as a compliment, Honey."

I waved my hand dismissively. "I take it as one, Hank. I come from a long line of hustlers."

I don't feel any hustle today. None. I need to get past my terror of eBay and Etsy and post these wares (and I don't mean the suitcases; I mean everything in these suitcases).
But um, I don't wanna. Maybe if I tell a story about my ancestors, veterans of the hustle, I'll motivate.


Yousef Moun-aye-er (an alternative transliteration of the Arabic name that captures the sound a bit better than the Frenchy looking "Monier"; roughly translated, the name means "Human Lighthouse") was raised in Qatana, an Ottoman garrison and dust-dry village some 20 miles west of Damascus. Talk about a dead-end existence. Yousef, a Catholic, was built like a Grizzly, which made him a target for threats and abuse from the local Muslim forces. Aged 12, Yousef and a few Christian friends decided to take what I like to call "One Big Risk" and run away to make their fortunes in "Amreeka."

Their journey--which crossed the Mediterranean Sea, France, and the Atlantic ocean--took years. They stowed away on an ocean liner, and when discovered, cleaned and hauled stuff around the ship for their food.

What no one told these boys, however, is that "Amreeka" is a big place, two continents actually. Their ship docked smack between both.

Yousef decided to head north to his Land of Freedom. His friends decided to stay in Spanish-speaking countries. As the joke goes, had Yousef stayed with his friends, we'd probably be millionaires and presidents of Central American countries.

Instead, teenage Yousef crossed into this country illegally, working for a traveling Mexican circus. I used to pretend that this meant he was a performer. My dad had to convince me that his dad had not swung from the flying trapeze as the circus paraded across the U.S. border.

Yousef had been behind the parade, sweeping up the animals' droppings. Especially memorable were the elephants.

In a fit of racist, disillusioned pique, thirteen-year-old me once shot back at my dad, "So, we didn't come through Ellis Island or anything? I'm the granddaughter of a towelhead wetback?"

My dad stared me down so that I held my breath. Then he released a rueful little chuckle. "Yes, I guess your Jiddo was a towelhead wetback. And he had hustle."

That's my daddy on Jiddo's lap, giving the world the reverse finger.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright 2013, Tanya Monier