One of the biggest treats I allow myself is a day trip to the beach. I get up early and start the road trip at 7:00 a.m. which puts me at my favorite beach spot at 8:30. I take the back roads, through the phosphate mines and small farming towns of central Florida. I can drive 20 miles at a clip and never see another car. The roads are two-laned and are insulated by tall pine trees. Deer and wild hogs are rumored to be abundant in this desolate alleyway to my nirvana, but I choose to travel this path in order to eliminate the interstates with their texters and screamers and Hummer-limosines full of people getting-it-on all the way to a BUCS game. (One Sunday I carried an SUV full of teenaged boys to the beach who had the delight of watching 4 40-year-old couples having a massive BANG in the back of a Hummer limo with poor tinting.)

At any rate, I often go alone to the beach, to think, to float, to enjoy the solace of silence. But fear creeps in on my trip and I envision a wild hog skipping accross the two lanes while I hum along in my tiny car at 80 MPH, clip him (or see him and swerve) and flip my car and die because of a pig. I would be mortified of my OBIT:

“Dana Mercaldi of Lakeland passed away yesterday during a selfish ride to the beach …alone…with a car packed full of sweet tea and cheese popcorn. Mrs. Mercaldi unskillfully flipped her VW on SR 674 as a pig crossed the road. The deceased will be laid to rest in her “Miraclesuit” bathing suit since it was so tight the mortician couldn’t even get it off of her.”

Toilets, Tears and Turkey Basters


Last Tuesday started out like any other: 7:00 a.m. up and ready to start the diet (again), coffee and work.  I was out and about talking up Home Healthcare to many uninterested people when the phone rang with the sound of barking dogs (Gee thanks, hubs for setting that as your ring tone and testing my continence weekly).  He sounded breathless, overwhelmed and upset.  He got out something about the toilet and water everywhere and to come home quick.  I sped home to find the place just soaked.  Hubs was splashing around with a broken wet vac, and the dog was Happy, Happy, Happy splashing in the house, doing summersalts and basically showing his ass. The teens arrived home from school, took one look and immediately left for higher ground at friends houses.  There we were….wet.  The voice in my head screamed, “Save the shabby chic!  Save the shabby chic!”  Obediently I tossed my ass around like Judy Jetson pushing all of the hundred year old chippy furniture around to drier venues while the husband rescued his 47 polyester promotional tote bags. It seems as though our toilet tank suffered a spontaneous crack (yep, such a thing, I Googled it).  It’s not fun, I don’t reccomend it. As I called the insurance company I saw my favorite shoe floart by as if to say goodbye and it’s been real.

The “Catastrophe Team” arrived in big trucks with powerful extraction equipment, 20 industrial fans and dehumidifiers.  I could tell that this was gonna be great AND suck at the same time.  6 hours later we had our hoard moved to dry rooms and the machinery going. (Did I mention the workman slipped in the master closet and grabbed the rack for balance, pulled it down with 18 loads of laundry now to do right into the water beneath?  Were they here to end a situation or start one?  I heard him and the closet go down, peeked in and just sat in the water and prayed to Jesus to transport me 2 weeks into the future.  I worked all night making some sort of camp while the family slept and the machinery roared.  I dried out the toilet and got it ready for the plummer to remove and replace and threatened everyone to stay out of that potty!  Two days later the husband walked right in and peed in it.  He came out to confess while I scolded him.  He promised he would get it all out and clean it.  He did not.

The insurance adjuster came to visit (fight with us).  He said that we should change those water lines every 6 months and that the carpet in the master would be dried out, restretched and reinstalled because it was a clean water spill. (He even said that the  “water in the tank was clean, you can drink it!”  I offered him a glass…he said no.  Imagine.  I pictured all Americans changing those lines every 6 months and laughed and laughed.  I mean seriously, I have seen 1950’s pink and green toilets finally removed for renovation purposes but mine can’t last 5 years?  He asked it we had felt it rock.  Like my favorite place to set a spell and rock is the commode…geez.  If I had felt it rock I would have had it addressed, I mean hell, do I want my husbands 47 nylon promotional tote bags to be ruined just for the fun of rocking on the toilet?!?!?!

Back to the now peed in toilet and the broken promise of cleaning…  Time passed and I was preparing for the plummer to install the new toilet so I rolled up my sleeves, armed with a turkey baster and a cool-whip tub and I emptied the toilet (again) and gagged and plotted revenge.I did see the maid (played by Kathy Bates) make a lovely soup on American Horror Story Coven last week…… that would be one way to go.  I guess the fact that the flood sent hundreds of craft straight pins into the carpet that hubs found with his bare feet was revenge enough…for now.

Oldest Living College Student to Graduate Next Week


I was 17 when I graduated high school and had not one plan.  My Dad, the Navy man turned career  Fire Marshall did what any man who was raised by the military would do…he took me to the Naval Recruiting Office with a promise that I could “probably” be a USO comic.  There was NO WAY I was listening, giving them my name or anything in fear that my folks would allow them to come rip me from my Holly Hobby bed and drag me to the Navy where they would yell me out of bed, make me belly crawl under barbed wire to a breakfast of mud and powdered milk and go for a 16 hour jog.  I sweetly told the Recruiter that I would certainly consider his lovely offer, faked my social security number and got the hell out of there and drove as fast as I could to the Community College.

At the Community College I wasted many semesters and dollars signing up for random-ass classes and withdrawing or failing because I spent most of the hour in class making plans for Friday night with the other 2 townies that were left behind when everyone else went to real college.  I swear to Joseph when Kirk Cameron put out that “Left Behind” movie that I was gonna be an extra in it.

I always worked 2 jobs and enjoyed being a Recreation Therapist in Long Term Care facilities and later became a consultant and parlayed that into helping a major firm merge to another chain.  I spent more than a dozen years selling Real Estate and being a Home Health Rep.  I have had a nice career but I always wished I had finished school.  Signing up for classes in my twenties made me feel the same way it does when I rejoin Weight Watchers for the gabillionth time.

Something happened when we moved, in 2006, to Hickory, NC from central Florida (my lifetime home).  I was renewed by the place and the people.  I decided to go back and finish just in time to move back home.  It took me 23  years to grasp algebra but I did, and all of a sudden I got it!  I was a straight A student !  I received my A.S. degree in 2008 and set about working 2 jobs, raising young boys and going to the University.  I have not taken a break, I have made A’s and I have paid for it with Real Estate commissions and painting furniture.  Lots and lots of furniture.  You could say that my Shabby Chic Addiction was my scholarship.  I am grateful that I learned how to learn,  I am glad for the abundant experience and I am proud to have set this example for my (now high school aged) sons.

So, if you see me at the Piggly Wiggly next month and I am still wearing my cap and gown, it’s because it took me 28 years to get it…that, and because I am insane.

Please like and share this and I’ll love ya more than cooked food!

Where you Find Your Inspiration

You find your inspiration in the oddest places.  This week I was inspired by a TV show:  American Horror Story-Coven.  The show started off this week in the swamps of Louisiana.  The scene involves a character in a floaty hippy dress and shawl with layers necklaces and smokey eyes.  Fleetwood Mac music haunts in the background.  Just a delicious episode riddled with reference to Stevie Nicks.

I grew up in the 70’s-80’s and I fondly recall coming home from school, a very happy latch-key kid, and laying in the dining room where the stereo was and wearing the grooves off of my parents Fleetwood Mac Rumors album.  I carried the band and Stevie with me from album to cassette to CD to iTunes right up until today as a favorite.  I love the haunting voice and poetic lyrics that Stevie  does as only she can.

There’s that vein in me that loves lace and funky boots, necklaces and the sweet remembrance of how people in the 70’s looked at love and intimacy that seems so far removed now.  When talk of the tall grass, mountains, mirror in the sky, and night birds were as tangible in song as they are in real life.  Before texts and blogs and face time we had sitting around a living room (or laying in a dining room)  and having soulful talks with great music.

This has inspired my painted piece this week.  Dusky lavender with gypsy print accent and gypsy gold.  Here are a few pics…it’s not done and I am breaking a cardinal rule by posting a pic of the (yuk) garage (AKA my Fancy Studio).  I’m still knocking it around with my “purty sticks” but you get the idea.

Gotta run, at some point I have to go in and cook dinner and let the dog (with the breath that’s worse than Satan’s skidmarks) out.

How it starts

How it starts

In Progress

In Progress

“Wait a minute baby, stay with me a while
Said you’d give me light but you never told me about the fire

Drowning in the sea of love where everyone would love to drown
But now it’s gone, it doesn’t matter what for
When you build your house then call me, ‘Home””

Lyrics from Fleetwood Mac’s    Sara

Voodoo Dolls and Teenagers

I started painting a loooong time ago when by boys were toddlers.  I faux finished beautiful custom homes during the construction boom.  I have been making and doing since I was a teenager.  I stopped for a while when my kids were small because I couldn’t find time to wear a decent outfit  much less paint.  As their pre-teen years approached I felt my morph to the garage some since I wasn’t afraid to leave them in the house alone.  I was wrong, of course, as evidenced by my coming in one day to my 12-year-old, with a can of hair spray, a straw and a lighter (making a flame thrower like the one he saw on Youtube.)  I yelled at him for wasting my good hairspray and went on about my business.

Over time, my tweens became teens and I was glad to have my painting as I rose on the weekend and the man and boys slept until 2:00 p.m.  I enjoyed my radio and the outside and found my company in Annie Sloan, Martha Stewart and some gal with the last name Behr.    My boys used to make fun of my hobby saying that shabby chic was stupid and they hated the old furniture in the garage.  They shamed me for my hoard at every turn.  When people came to pick something up they’d scowl off waiting for a grilled cheese and wonder how anyone would like the things I painted.  I made voodoo dolls of them and made their butts itch and shaved off an eyebrow.

Funny how the jeers stopped when we took the first vacation we had in 16 years, last year, because of my painting, my peace, the thing that sets me free.

I’m full-on in the throes of raising two high-school boys.  Painting and crafting still takes me to my happy place in so many ways.  I hope you have found your happy-place as well.

Here are some things I’ve done in the last few:

dressernight standombreharlequin Drexel dresser

Cupcakes and The Women Who Lurve Them


This week had a theme…  CuPcAkEs!!    It started with a friend and I trying a new cupcake place in town (we are medical reps and we do a lot of goodie-giving so a new cupcake place sounded like a good thing to check out…for work…of course.)  We went.  The cakes were MEH but the icing was FAB! (Is it gross to order a pound of icing?  Okay, then a pound of icing, please.)

Fast forward to today.  That same friend and I are having lunch and discussing a  promotional item we could make from an idea on Pinterest  involving  cupcakes in a mason jar. (I know, who wouldn’t want to get an afternoon goodie with all THAT happiness in a toteable jar?!)  My friend told me at lunch that she had lab tests done this morning.  One of which was an A1C test, which if you don’t know, is a test for glucose (Diabetes).  My friend was offended that her doctor prescribed this test.  OFFENDED.  My friend is a nurse and ate cupcakes all week (and pasta, with me, right before a lab test) and was offended.  I said, “You are offended?”  She said, “Yes”.  I laughed and told her to throw her arm up on the table and I squeezed around the cupcakeyness of it and said, “Really, bitch…you’re offended?”  We laughed and laughed.  My friend told me that her doctor was super healthy and had offered to have my friend stay with her at her house for a month to embrace the healthy lifestyle and train with her and her  super-healthy husband.

I immediately tuned out my friend with a mental image of her hiding in the guestroom closet cranking out shameful looking and tasting cupcakes from an Easy Bake Oven hidden skillfully in the back of the closet.  I pictured my friend going batshit crazy when the sad little light bulb that actually does the cooking in the Easy Bake Oven poops out.  I can just see her busting through the shuttered closet doors like the Incredible Hulk looking for that good icing, or a mason jar full of cupcakes or even one of those Ho-Ho-Ring-Ding things.

I promised my friend that if she got bad news from her test and had to adopt a new lifestyle, and forced to wave goodbye to chocolate covered yum-yums that I would join her.  It’s what you do with friends.  That, and offer shovels and plastic sheeting and alibi assistance when needed…

That’s a Lovely Set of Pomelos Ya Got There!


I needed to go to the farmers market today so I recruited my friend Tams who has a food blog and she was willing to go with me.  Upon arrival, right out of the cage we saw two old people unloading their electric scooters and sporting twin “I love Jesus” baseball caps, which struck me as odd that they didn’t smile or greet us when we said hello.  (Probably spent all their love on Jesus and had none left for regular people).  Right away we were captivated by what looked like the biggest-ass grapefruits we had ever seen!  We asked what they were and unexcitedly we were told they were Pomelos.  They taste sweet and just a tad like a grapefruit, we bought two.  Tams, a foodie, was there to take pics for her blog “Flip Flop Foodie” and she asked the gal, “What do you do with them?” (as in, share some creative culinary uses for this magical citrus delight!)   The vendor looked at her like, “wtf do you THINK you do with it!  You can cram it up your ass for all I care!”  On to the booth where they sell the tiny little crinkle knit shiny tops that could fit folded into a matchbox.  Down the produce aisle, a vendor quizzed Tams about where her bag was for the Pomelos (like she had stolen them), she quickly found me and bummed a bag off the sock lady booth.  At the sock booth we were hacking around taking pics of the pomelos.  (Tammy made a lovely set of knockers for herself and we spoofed the Twilight apple shot)  The sock booth man became very interested in the Pomelos that he must see 100 times a day and asked us about them..after seeing us take boob shots with them I was afraid he was going to try to buy us a funnel cake and ask for a hummer.  I do love the sock booth…you can get like 100 pair of “real” Nike socks  for two bucks and this is valuable to me because my younguns go through them like Kleenex.

We stopped at the god-awful-gawdy “miracle” comb both that had the smallest mannequin head ever, made with real  hair weave, when the clerk was all up in our business like we were going to steal them.  I really was there to crack on them but the clerk killed my erection for making fun of them since she was almost glued to my ass.  Last stop was the tweezer, dental instrument, scissor man booth where all of Polk’s dental do-it-yourselfer’s  get the goods.   I asked the man about uses for a 12” bent tweezer and he told me:  Motor cycle part grabber, aquarium cleaner and pasta tester.. c’mon dude…we both know they are for meth cooking and  for bootleg organ harvesting.  The afternoon produced 2 pomellos, 2 pics, a sack of strawberries and some cherry tomatoes which I sat on in the car.

Good times.

Once Urine, Twice You’re Out

For more than a dozen years my office has been in the “Historic” (homeless) district filled with quaint shoppes, brick -paved streets and the dude on the bike with urine.  The first time I met him was 10 years ago.  I had just got out of the car and  was burdened with a purse, briefcase and a box of files and teetering on cute but unsmart shoes in the metered parking lot downtown.  Briskly and much like a ninja this grown-ass man on a kids bike scrambled up to me like a crackhead tornado and he said, “Hey ladyladylady, give me all your money or I am gonna throw all this pee on you!”  In his free hand  was a cup of yellow liquid with a rubberbanded  tin foil for a lid. I dropped everything and gave him all my cash…and I mean every red cent..and it was all the money I had to my name for a week (and I had small children to feed…does that make it worse?  Good!  Because that’s how it was!)  He left and I picked up all of my thrown belongings and walked to my office with my heart racing and aching that he had taken all the money I had, even though it was not a large amount.

Pitiful, huh?

Fast forward to April of this year after I had been called into the office to hear that our doors were closing that day.  I left in the sunlight wondering what I was going to do.  Up rolls this guy on the bike (probably a different guy by now but the same scam).  “Hey ladyheyladyladylady!” he screamed, ushering me to attention. “Give me what you got for money right now or I am gonna throw this pee all over you!”  I threw everything down except my purse and I rared my head back and just belted out, “HHHHEEEEEEEEEELLLLPPPPPP!”  It was so loud that I think I burped in the process and it sounded like a lion’s roar!  His face was priceless.  He was afraid.  I said, “Bring it, BITCH!  Let’s go!  What cha got!?!?”  I was a crazy woman! I even think I was trying to pull off one of those Fred Sanford fancy footwork boxing deals..I dunno, I was in a zone. (Mind you, this was 100 feet from the police station).   My would-be assailant scooted off faster than Moody’s goose.  I gathered my things from the pavement and walked bravely to my car, feeling fearless and amused.  I knew I would be okay.

P.S.  The photo is not my actual would-be assailant, I think it’s of of them Walberg boys.

And a Peacock Painted Pink

In my world of furniture painting, there is a sisterhoodish competitiveness. Does that sound weird? Does it sound like competitive amateur BBQ competition? Does it sound like the Betty Crocker Bake Off? (Man, wouldn’t THAT be cool? Those heifers reel in some dough!) Sorry, I had to pun…I was channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw.

Anyways… It was Sunday and I was off to the beach on a quaint little island where millionaires try to act broke and broke people try to make friends with the millionaires who own beach houses. I’m dragging.. I know! Let me get right to it:

I entered a retail and deli place that has the coolest painted furniture, it was originally some of the inspiration that started my own painting. Filling my eyeballs full of eye candy, and waiting for a latte, I started admiring some of the works. There was an adorable antique child’s dresser painted pink with a wisp of white spray painted on the edges. Spray painting the whole damned deal is almost a sin in some circles. Sometimes I will spray a base just to get rid of the “this was my grannies hutch but now she is dead” smell before I do some hand painting and detailing. Paula Deen puts butter in her dishes and calls it Cookin’ With Love. I put my hands in paint and smack a dresser around for a week and call it Paintin’ With Love.

Okay, back to this sprayed up hot mess of a dresser. This snobby old gal strides up to me and says, “Isn’t it fabulous?!” I kinda screwed up my face a bit (I assume) and said, “Meh”. “I paint too and I was just noticing that this dresser is———— sprayed”. This old bat coiled up on me like she was a Cobra and I was a mouse. She spilled. “We ONLY collaborate with renowned artisans!” I adjusted my Target sun hat and said, “What’s this one RENOWNED for, Krylon? Trigger- finger -notoriety?” The shop keeper was not amused.

Fast forward 10 minutes and in the door storms this beachy looking suitcase- faced lady with this big-ass hairdo pulled up on top of her head every which-a-way and had feathers (and I don’t mean those cute/trendy peacock feather tips or pheasant tips that all the cutesy gals wear) I am talking a straight up 30 inch 4 stem peacock arrangement sticking out of her hair-dome! I was mesmerized, even though I knew she was headed right for me and was there to bite off a chunk of my ass.

Approaching me from my left she walked right up to me and said, “Hey lady, you said something about my art?!” At that very moment I wondered if, in fact, her “art” had been rigged with a motion censored voice recording that was electronically transmitted to her ear, or if she just was wicked telepathic. I said, “Uh…no. It was some other fat lady with a real mean dog. I heard the whole thing!” Usually I’m really good at getting away from crazy people but I was still waiting on my ham sammich so I was staying. I didn’t care if Peacock Patsy had an all out conniption fit, I was getting my ham and cheesy, melty thing if it hair-lipped every cow in Texas!

Surprisingly, she backed off and just snorted as she morphed off to the yummies counter. The smell of coffee and melty things has a calming effect. They should make air fresheners out of it for painted furniture/deli places at the beach.