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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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.









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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.



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.


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.



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.



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.


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).


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.


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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Is It Bigger Than a Bread Box?

So I found this old wood bread box for free (my favorite kind of sale).

this is the original breadbox I started with...

the original freebie I started with…

check out the roomy interior

check out the roomy interior

Using it as a bread box isn’t a good idea where I live because the bread will become moldy before I finish it, but I thought it would make a great mail station. So first I painted it a creamy white so that it wouldn’t stand out too much on the kitchen counter. Then I started designing my transfers.

First I found an image that said Postcards for the top. Then on my computer I created an old postmark and return addresses from friends and family over the years. Transferring these images was a bit tricky.

the top of the box

the top of the box

While I experimented with different techniques on a painted wooden piece I plan to repaint, for unknown reasons it just wasn’t working the same on the bread box, which meant repainting the base — several times. Some images I printed on waxed paper and transferred by using a damp sponge on the painted box, laying the image face down on it and using a credit card rubbing the back side of the paper. Others I made laser copies and used my heat tool. Don’t even ask me why one technique didn’t work for all the images. I still don’t know.

...and here's the entire front and top

…and here’s the entire front with postmark and return labels

I even found some old postcards that I transferred to the sides of the box.

this is one side view

this is one side view

So now I have a place to hide all the mail that looks neater than laying in an open basket.  Now that it’s been sitting around for a few months, I’m thinking of repainting it.  At least now I know the best ways to transfer the designs…



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Every Day is a Dog’s Day

Well, the dog days of summer have already arrived for us humans. For dogs, every day is a dog day and even dogs deserve to dine in style.

As my little guy got older, I felt bad that he had to lean his head so far down to eat and thought he deserved to have his bowls somewhat higher to make his life easier. I once had a tray table like this that I pitched in one of my moves. (Didn’t think I’d still use it, silly me.)

basic tray table

basic tray table

So during garage sale season I searched for another ($2) to use for his bowls. The flat surface of this one was shiny, but hey, they say chalk paint can be used on any surface…I scuffed the surface slightly with very fine sandpaper just to ensure some grit.

While they say dogs don’t see colors the same way that people do, they can make out shapes and I wanted this table to be undeniably for the four-legged one.

First I made a stencil of a dog bone shape using the paper tape method and using his bone shaped bowls as a template. Then I had a store-bought stencil of a paw print, which along with creating letters on my computer, I used to stencil the word ‘woof’ on the top of the bone. Clever me.

close up of the table top

close up of the table top

The table top is in a light blue, which is also the base color of the trim and stand.  The stand also got touches of the green, along with a little ivory and pink (for that ‘shabby’ feeling).

the finished table

the finished table

While the word ‘woof’ isn’t visible once the food and water bowls are on the table, it’s apparent to everyone that this table clearly belongs to the dog.




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An Endless Summer Globe

While stores may be having Christmas in July sales, no one is putting up wintery decorations.  It’s summer (in the northern hemisphere) and hot and one of the ways to keep cool is going to the beach and jumping in the water.  So instead of displaying a snow globe, make yourself a beach globe.

I made this one some years ago, so I don’t have any step by step pictures.  I used sand from a favorite beach, shells I’ve collected over the years, and even added some small glass beads from the jewelry department at the craft store to imitate sea glass which I’ve never found before others.

My personal piece of the beach

My personal piece of the beach

What you need:
A clear glass globe fixture
Sand (or table salt)
Styrofoam or thick cork tiles


Creating the base:
First you want to make the base for the sand globe using the Styrofoam or cork.  I used styrofoam – the kind that used for packing electronics, small appliances, not the more porous kind found in craft stores.  Place the open side of the globe on the foam and trace the opening.  You will actually cut inside this line to fit just inside the rim so that you will create a tight seal.  Then cut another circle about 1-1 ½” wider than the original circle.  You want this piece to be at least as wide as the globe itself for stability and proportion.

Center the small circle on the wider one and glue.  Let this dry thoroughly.  I added a circle of sandpaper to put on top of the smaller circle to that when I move the globe around to rearrange the globe contents, the white Styrofoam was camouflaged.

Filling the globe:


These globe fixtures are pretty generic across suppliers.

These clear glass globe fixtures can be found cheaply (I originally paid $4.) at the big box hardware stores, thrift stores, Habitat, even at garage sales.  First add shells you have collected from beaches visited.  Even broken shells (for beachy authenticity).  Have friends and neighbors collect them for you when they go on vacation.  If you haven’t collected any, the craft stores and online sites have shells you can buy.  Add any beach glass or pebbles, even small pieces of driftwood found on the beach.

Next, add your sand.  If you haven’t collected any yourself, ask someone else going to the beach to collect some for you, or raid a child’s sandbox for play sand.  If these aren’t options, then buy some sandbox play sand or go to the craft store and buy some craft sand.  You can even use salt to imitate ‘sugar sand beaches’.  Do not use sugar.  You only need 2-3 cups of sand.  There is no need to completely fill the globe.

Putting it together:
Once your happy with the amount of shells and sand, add glue to the sides of the small base circle and fit inside the globe opening.  Let dry thoroughly before turning it over.

Finishing details:
Wrap twine around the base to complete the nautical look, then add the ribbon of your choice around the bottom of the globe to hide the inner part of the base.  Cut a circle of felt to put on the bottom of the base for the finishing touch.


Here’s a closeup of the finished base wrapped in twine and tied with a ribbon bow.

Now you have your own personal beach to tuck inside your home.  Shake it up to arrange and rearrange the shell mixture inside whenever you feel the need for summer and sand.


Here's another view of the finished Beach Globe.

Here’s another view of the finished Beach Globe. As you can see, some of the sand is still sticking to the glass from the last time it was shaken.


Best of all, this ‘snowglobe’ can be displayed year-round to remind you of summer memories.


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