Ho Ho Hmm…

Yeah, yeah, yeah it’s over for this year but December kept me busy — and not with sugar plums or jolly times. The furnace went out. (@@##$%&^***&)  Igniter bit the dust.  PC problems. (more @$%*(*&^% &*)     Watch broke. (even more @$%*(*&^%)  There was a run on flour at the grocery store (@$%*(*&^% @@##$%^!!!) because apparently everyone decided to do their baking at the same time and those seniors are vicious shoppers when there’s a sale.  Misplaced the tins for the cookies and had to make another store run (@$%*(*&^% @@##$%^!!!)  Priority mail is actually a 5 day delivery not two because time works differently for the post office than it does for the rest of us.  Not one, but two strings of lights bit the dust at different times so the tree had to be restrung twice (@$%*(*&^% @@##$%^!!!)

And that was just the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Don’t even ask about November/early December. Anyway…

Not all of us live in a barn or farmhouse and despite the plethora of ‘farmhouse’ décor being shoved down our throats by every home retailer, and style site, I have no interest or inclination to live in a barn.  I like a little more comfort in my life and considering housing costs, I’d like to have my home look like I can afford to live in something more upscale than a barn.  With indoor plumbing and central heat.  (FYI about 20 years ago ‘farmhouse’ was labeled ‘country’.  New term, old tricks.)

While all those truck figurines hauling Christmas trees are all the rage the past couple of years, those of us who live on the coast sport a different style, including at Christmas time.

Yep.  Santa is ready for his vacay.  I’ve had this beach Santa for many years and in past years been displayed in the bathroom.  However, this year I found (free free free) this child’s toy sports car and it was the perfect size for Santa and one of my cheap cheap cheap mini trees which I even strung with a small and cheap string of LED lights.  So beach Santa got center stage in the living room this year.  Admittedly I’m still kicking myself for passing up a curbside child’s convertible which could hold a larger mini tree for the porch (or even in front of the porch).  I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled.  I’m positive there’ll be another opportunity.

 

For those with very limited space, here’s my matchbox car version that sits on the kitchen windowsill.

 

That doesn’t mean I don’t have a truck to display.  Found this little truck at a garage sale which I could have gotten for free, but I felt bad she wasn’t having a very successful sale that day and gave her a quarter for it.  The bottle tree was no more than a one dollar (if that).  Because there’s no need to spend $30-40 on some mass made store bought decoration that is displayed for a month or so.

 

Here it sits in front of the TV with my vintage Santa cola truck tin (found at a garage sale) and the small freestanding HoHoHo sign which I’ve had for years.

 

 

Now as the year ends hopefully there will be no more daily mini crises thrown at me.  Maybe.  Hopefully.  It has to get better, right?

 

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Whimsy In the Garden

Every room needs a bit of whimsy. because the day to day is not always humorous.  A piece of funk, maybe some funky junk, something that will just brighten your day in some small way, like adding a bright flamingo throw pillow in the living room, a bathtub shaped metal basket in the bathroom, a retro neon clock in the kitchen.  Your outdoor space should be no different whether you have a small condo patio, a townhouse balcony or a yard of any size.

For years, I planted impatiens for fill in between all my perennial blooming.  Until there was a blight regarding impatiens.  So I started planting snapdragons which can be planted sooner and last until the fall.  It’s not quite the same effect and colors are different, but it gives multi-season color and bloom.

So I decided to have some fun last year and made a little sign that I propped within the grouping.

I had just had some landscaping work done and new mulch clobbered some of the plants. But I just had to add a bite mark to this sign.

This year, my mini Siberians doubled in size so I planted my snaps further up the driveway and added baby dragons.

How cute are these little babies?

Now the backyard is still a work in progress — especially the far back with all the trees which provide limited sun.  Having already planted some bulbs and flowering shrubs/plants which die back to the ground, I got busy marking the areas so that I can identify wanted plants from weeds when I do cleanup.  A lot of the leaves that fall get mulched which prohibits a lot of weeds and saves me the cost of 2-3 yards of mulch and makes some great earth.

This pic was taken before I added additional bleeding hearts.

The Asiatic lilies are here. More this year….Ignore those cement bench stones. Still haven’t made a top for them.

Birds planted this little guy so someone near me has holly and I just decided to have some fun.

yeah, hostas die back too

and they are absolutely enormous this year

So far just stella d’oro lilies. Don’t forget adding a bottle tree for extra whimsy.

All the signs were made from fencing slats that I scavanged in the neighborhood, so the cost was zero dollars.  Sweet.  Same goes for the white metal edging pieces.  The ‘boardwalk’ paths are just pieces of decking I also scavanged from someone removing/replacing a deck.  All that trash is now treasured in my yard.

What’s in your yard?

 

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Winter is Ending Inspiration

It has been a wicked winter across the country.  Unprecedented snow in Hawaii, Arizona and the city of Seattle. Avalanches and flooding.  Shaking off the February Funk was difficult.  This post was planned as a winter color inspo, but hey, February Funk…and now we’re on the cusp of spring, regardless of the inconsistent weather.

While some may tout hygge naturals, farmhouse whites, rustic weathered wood, color is always needed.  Especially during the dark gray winters in the places where nature is sleeping.  Because humans do not hibernate.  Color helps stimulate.

Did you ever notice how many art supply sales there are during the winter months?  You needn’t be a Rembrandt, Van Gogh or Monet to paint.  For an instant lift, paint an easel.  I had this one which I decided to paint pink (custom-made chalk paint).

 

 

Instant lift.  And a fun color.  This is great to display just about anything, just about anywhere.  Use it to hold a chalkboard, display your children’s artwork, bring it outside to hold a garage sale sign. (It will get the attention of every driver.)  Paint a tabletop easel you might use in the kitchen for your cookbooks or tablet and get cooking.  Many childrens’ easels are made in primary colors, so express your own inner child and have some fun.

Customize all those framed photos and artwork around the house.  Garage sales and thrift stores are great places to buy frames cheaply.  Buy for size and then paint them.

I decided to highlight one of the colors in this map print that was in a dull wood frame.  Didn’t prime and used craft paint for a deliberate imperfect look.  My apologies for the blurry photo.

For this photo, I painted one thin coat of aqua to enhance the tropical feel of a plain white frame.

And for this photo print, I used a grey wash on the wood to complement the beach scene.

There’s no need to make yourself crazy trying to find the perfect frame, when all you need to do is add a little paint.  If you have black and white prints or photos, a glossy red frame would really pop.  So before you start spending all day outside, or go shopping for colorful accessories, add some color to what you already have with a little paint.  You can always paint over it.

 

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Wanna Go For a Walk?

Been busy for some time…Not necessarily productive, but busy.  Translation:  multiple times back to square one.

Anyway, one project that did get finished — in a timely manner, but not posted was this new leash/accessory hanger that I made.  Using found scrap plywood (never discount dumpster diving!) and my handy little jigsaw, I fashioned this bone shaped hanger.  While I already had one, I keep it as a memento to my dear departed four-legged sweetie (since it is personalized).  New sweetie deserved new things.  It’s not an exact copy of the existing hanger.  I preferred the bone shape I used for the doggie food station I made some time ago.  I just copied the length so that I would have enough room for all the hooks.  I would have liked longer hooks, but couldn’t find any locally.  Used Morning Glory DecoArt Outdoor Living paint for the background (only one coat needed!) for a bold pop of color — especially since dogs see blue best.  Then I used the same ‘Woof’ design as for the food station.

 

 

 

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Time to Refresh

It’s been a very busy spring and with the warmer weather I’ve been outside playing with dirt – literally.  Planting, creating new garden beds, hauling rocks, hauling mulch, deliberating on which potted plants I want to put out on the deck and porch.  The potted plants reminded me of this old plant stand I’ve had for a number of years.

the original planter

(It sits level.  I just took a crooked picture!)  Green may be the color of the year, I’m no longer feeling it and since I’m no longer using it I’ve decided to sell it.  However, I felt a new color scheme was needed to freshen it up.  It’s metal and can be used indoors or out so first I gave it a coat of spray primer.

Rustoleum for a base…

Looking better already!

 

Then I decided an ocean blue and white color scheme would really set off the style of the planter and complement any potted plant.  The trick was covering those metal flowers to keep them white while spraying on the blue.

very crisp and clean in blue and white…

So much better.  Now I think someone would buy it and give it a good home.

 

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Is It Spring Yet?

April is not the cruelest month.  Usually it’s the ‘January Thaw’ that gets us hoping spring is thisclose before we get slammed with cold, wet weather and nonstop gray days.  This year it was February – for a week!  We even got 70 degree weather.  Not only were there shorts and flip-flops, locals catching rays at the beach, but spring cleanouts were in full force.  People were emptying their garages, sheds, and basements.  Snow blowers were curbside with For Sale signs and yes, there were garage sales, the first I’ve ever seen in this state in February.  Then winter came back with a vengeance of cold temps.  Stella only brought us rain, but the day after the 30% chance of flurries left some white stuff on the ground…

For something a little different for spring front door decor, I found this cone-shaped hanging bucket on clearance that I decided to fill with whatever flowers I had on hand.  I don’t bother with styrofoam or oasis, I just shove stems in and if there’s any space for them to move around (from opening and closing the door), I just fill it with packing paper or plastic bags.  This one is packed tightly with stems.  Looks great.  The downside is that the result is too wide for the front of the door since I have a screen door, so I have to hang it on the backside of the door.

 

hanging inside the door

 

So, I had to make another arrangement.  Found another cone-shaped basket (for free) that was brown and decorated with geese and hearts.  Pretty ugly.  So I slopped on some very pale pink chalk paint and filled it with flowers that would fit in the space between the front and screen door.

but there’s enough room between doors for this arrangement

So now I have spring bouquets inside and out.  Because where is the rule that says you can only decorate the outside of the door?  I’m just looking forward to taking down the winter wreath decoration that I made a few years ago from a worn out wreath.  I picked most of the decorations off the wreath (which were cheap looking anyway) and gave it a misting of white spray paint, then slapped on a ski decoration.

the winter door

 

 

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Tisket, Tasket, Updated Basket

So, I was making my way across Wal Mart from the paint department (can’t beat the price on spray paint!) to the crafts department (hey, sometimes they have supplies cheaper than the craft stores), when I spied these chicken wire baskets.

the front side of the original basket

the front side of the original basket

side view of the original basket

side view of the original basket

Now, farmhouse is not my style — mostly because I don’t live in a farmhouse — and black and white are not my color scheme in any room, but the size was perfect and they had been marked down to the fabulouso price of $6.  I could make them fit into my house with a little paint — especially since I knew I already had paint on hand.  Since the liners were ivory and not pure white, I started with a base of ivory paint.

Then I covered roughly the upper half of the baskets and used my TintIt spray for a slight ombre effect on the bottom half of the baskets.

done...

done…

and done - for now

and done – for now

I considered adding some painted or driftwood stained wood shims for a lobster trap look, but for now I’m liking the coastal color vibe look just fine.  A little paint creates designer chic.

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Keeping the Moet Champagne on the Counter

People who actually cook – not just open a can and pour into a pot, put a plate in the microwave, or plate deli-ready or takeout – have tools of the trade that don’t fit in kitchen drawers.  They still need to be stored in some way yet be easily accessible for use.  Using a cupboard wastes space for pots and pans.  Hanging on the backsplash isn’t always possible — especially if there’s brick or tile.  Besides, that still uses a lot of space and not so tidy.

I used to use this stoneware jar.  It was kept on my baker’s rack in the last kitchen, then on the counter next to the stove in the present kitchen.

my original 'tool' bucket from the nursery department

my original ‘tool’ bucket from the nursery department

However, I outgrew the space when I added some tools, so I went rummaging in my house and found an old champagne bucket.  I’ve never used it for champagne.  Only people in the movies actually use them.  Got so excited that I forgot to take a ‘before’ picture.  It looked like plain aluminum.  Grabbed my copper spray paint.  I covered the ‘label’ and kept the inside unpainted.

a little bigger, but it holds everything

a little bigger, but it holds everything

This bucket helps corral all the wooden utensils, the long-handled and odd-shaped ones, the whisks and hand blender…Because these utensils don’t fit easily in any kitchen drawer.

 

 

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From Meh to Whoa!

Somewhere along the way I picked up these plain wood candlesticks (for free).  I never planned on using them ‘as is’, but I waited until I had an aha! moment.

the original candlesticks

the original candlesticks

They looked like they’re stained, but in fact the finish was paint.  While I adore tinted mercury glass, I knew the look couldn’t quite be achieved with these candle holders, my goal was for a colored glass look.  So first I sprayed them with shiny silver paint.

this is first silver coat - with the reflection of the glass lamp on them

this is first silver coat – with the reflection of the glass lamp on them

Then I took my Jade Tint It spray paint and lightly coated the silver, leaving the silver untouched around the top edge and cup portion of the holders.

Design Master Tint It spray paint

this paint is great for sheer color…

 

the candlestick on the left is tinted lightly

the candlestick on the left is tinted lightly

I deliberately tinted lightly so that the silver base coat would be seen.  The final coat was Krylon’s Triple Thick Glaze which gave it the glass look.  (so much easier than using resins)  Here they are sitting next to one of my colored glass lamps.

 

What a difference! The shine! And they look like heavy metal/glass candlesticks!

What a difference! The shine! And they look like heavy metal/glass candlesticks!

 

A perfect match!  And here they are gracing the dining room winter tablescape.

tablescape-copy

 

 

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Christmas Decorating Practically for Free!

Decorating for the season doesn’t have to be expensive.  First, there are all the markdowns after Christmas to buy ornaments and whatnot for the next year.  Then there’s everything you can score for free, like this basket.

 

basket-copy

So I painted it, first with a wash of color on the wicker using watered down craft acrylic paint to make a teal color.  Wasn’t fully pleased with the tones on the wicker, so I added a dry brush of white.

finalbasket-copyBetter.

Then I put a cheap $4 garland in it.  Then I added some driftwood I scored at a garage sale for $2 (didn’t even use all the driftwood) and a $1 set of mini string lights (from the Dollar Store).  Don’t have a fireplace so this was something to give the feel of a winter fire.  If you don’t have any logs, find some thick branches and cut to size.

 

logs-copy

Last year I scored these reindeer at the local thrift store for $2 (for both – there was a 50% sale that day).  Added a little ribbon, a cheap cheap garland from the Dollar Store, cluster lights I already had (bought at the Dollar Store for 50 cents!) and a puffy snowball type of floral ($2.50 on sale) for another little Christmas/winter scene.

 

reindeer-copyAnd here they are all lit up.

 

litlogs-copylitdeer-copy

In a front window where my window seat exists, I put up another scene.  I scaled back this year and only used the mini tree and lamp post.  Usually I have two Victorian carolers alongside them.  The mini tree is actually the top section of a large artificial tree I had gotten for free that’s stuffed inside a decorative container I bought years ago at a craft fair (maybe $8).  The lamp post came from another craft fair (about $12 all decorated!) years ago as well.  Cheap string lights are all that’s needed on this tree – which I don’t bother stringing year after year.  I just fold it all up and toss it in a box.

litminitree-copy

Since I now put up a fake tree, I miss the smell of fresh pine.  Sure you could spend money on those Scenticles, but free is better.  So off to Home Depot and Lowes I go about 2 weeks prior to Christmas and scavenge all the cut branches they pile from trimming the real trees that people buy.  I try to find a variety of pines – and take as much as I can find.  They’re all free for the taking.  Check out any lot that sells trees to collect branches.

One arrangement sits in an old galvanized bucket that I covered with burlap I already had (just use a rubber band to hold it around the bucket).  The branches came from my yard (free) which I painted white (paint already on hand).  Then I found these acrylic snowflake ornaments (Micheal’s) which I scored for $1 (on sale).

lvngromgreens-copy

The other arrangement I keep in the kitchen.  The snowman hat I scored at Michael’s for 70% off so it was a steal.  I stuff all the greenery and branches in a plastic container inside both the bucket and hat so that they stay fresh all winter.

snowmangreens-copy

Once the Christmas decor gets put away I still have winter decor with these two arrangements.  If you put up a live tree, just cut branches off it before you toss the tree to make winter arrangements.  It’s what I used to do when I put up live trees so that the house didn’t feel so bare once the holidays passed.  The neighbors probably thought I was a little nuts cutting up a tree after Christmas, but hey, it was still winter…

Now that’s how to do Christmas decorating on the cheap without looking cheap.

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