10 Dec

‘Tis the {Craft Fair} Season

DIY painted dishes

Is it seriously Monday again already??

These last days of the year are whipping by and I wish I could say I’m lounging around lazily enjoying lattes and foot massages but I most certainly am not. Instead, I am going freakin’ crazy {my fave state of mind btw} preparing for a craft show this weekend.

Back when I schlep’d Tupperware I participated in a few of these but the preparation was so simple: 1. Set up a table. 2. Pull out the plastic. 3. Drink coffee. Now? Yeah, not quite that easy. I sorta forgot that *making* my own products would need to be factored into the planning timetable. Whoops!

Anyhow, I’m running at full steam whipping out uber awesome things. I’m not quite ready to post them but I will give you a few sneak peeks and update later this week with the full reveal. (how’s that for tossing out a meatbone of anticipation ~ I’m learning, I’m learning!)

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05 Dec

Little Fish in a Big Sea

big little fish

If you know anything about the internet you know it’s chock full of people’s ideas. A Google search results in “about 312,000,000 results” for DIY ideas alone.


I don’t think I’ve had 312 DIY ideas in my lifetime much less 312 million of them. No wonder I feel incompetent when I surf Pinterest.

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05 Dec

Step away from the power tools

make beautiful things

I’m quickly approaching my 1-year anniversary of being a stay at homer. Wow. A full year has gone by already. Now, this time last year (before I had any inkling I’d no longer be part of the workforce) I was *CERTAIN* that if I could just spend a good 3 months at home everything would be in order. All of my projects would be done, the house would be gleaming clean and all would be right with the world. {Ohhhmmmm}

make beautiful things

Ahem. Allow me to correct myself. Twelve months later, my house is nowhere near put together. My project To Do List has multiplied 10-fold and we haven’t eaten at the dining room table in weeks.

Sigh. Where did I go wrong?

For those of you reading this while sneaking in a ‘smoke break’ at work (that’s what I used to call my quick FB & blog checks while on the clock since I didn’t smoke) let me let you in on a little secret. Being home does not mean you will get any more done around the house than not being home. In fact, all it really does is add to your guilt of not getting things done. At least when I was away for 10-12 hours a day I had a pretty darn good excuse why things at home weren’t done. Now? Pshaw notsomuch.

But, the hubs does say I am a much nicer person now….hmmmmm.

Anyhow, the point is that what you plan to do and what actually gets done are very, very different things. Just yesterday I bantered back and forth with a fellow blogger about only completing 95% of our projects before moving on, full force, to the next one. When I say that nothing in the house is done, I don’t mean nothing has gotten started. I have tons of things at the 95% mark. They just stalled in the “punch list” status as other projects took precedence.

Another blogger posted an FB status asking who else felt like they were soooo busy yet didn’t seem to get anything accomplished {that day} and like a moron I sat here at the table w/my hand raised high in the air. I’m *pretty sure* she couldn’t see me. But, I totally felt her pain.

Do you feel like that? Like you race around trying to catch your own head?

It’s 10:50 am on Wednesday morning and thus far I’ve cleaned the kitchen, have dinner in the crockpot, chugged one cup of coffee (debating on another), started this blog and linked up to umpteen others. In a corporate world, I’d consider that pretty productive but looking around the house I feel overwhelmed and so, so very behind. I have to head to the ‘shop (i.e., basement) to finish up some shelves I’ve been struggling with all week. Yesterday, I camped out on the couch for three hours determined to finish a book that I started over a month ago.

It’s pretty frustrating.

Tonight, I will miss an orchestra practice for a concert I signed up to play in on Friday. Why? Because I haven’t put in the time to perfect my flute tooting. It just didn’t make it far enough up on the list to get done.

What did get done yesterday, though, was laundry. And dinner. And I painted my front door! Oh and I {begrudgingly} decorated the mantle a tad for Christmas. And then there was that book….so – I’m not a total slacker.

Maybe it comes back to that 5% left hanging. If I put the time in to wrap up all of those loose ends would I feel more accomplished? Or maybe I should start a Got Done list to highlight my achievements instead of nagging myself with what is left to do.

Feel free to chime in if you are in the same boat. Or tell me to quit whining & get back to work. Either sentiment is appreciated.

02 Dec

DIY Side Table

A few years ago our local Bombay outlet store sent out notice that it was closing. There were very few retail outfits that I loved more, so with tear in eye I went to see what deals I could score. Just inside the front door was a cute wooden plant stand.

wood plant stand

I had to have it. I am pretty sure that once home it went to my spare room/office and actively collected dust. A couple of years later when I moved into my single-girl apartment the stand sat in the bedroom corner buried under books.

It finally served somewhat of a purpose when I covered it with folded cardboard and a tree skirt to support a Charlie Brown tree. Obviously, I was not feeling much creative mojo or the holiday spirit. (Check out the orange lights & glittery butterfly topper. Um wow.)

This was actually the last tree I put up. Last year we opted out of Christmas altogether in lieu of a trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon so I guess there’s some pressure this year to make up for lost time. Though, I don’t think I’ll have any problem topping that beauty.

Anyhow, the funny thing about remarrying your ex-husband is that you get half of your stuff back. When we bought this house, I had 3 living room sets to choose from including a gorgeous Italian leather set of two arm chairs and a sofa.

Since ours is a big rectangular room with only one actual wall, the furniture ‘floats’ in the center and there isn’t enough space in front of the couch to put my trunk coffee table. Instead, I needed a side table between the sofa and chair but didn’t want to buy any more furniture.

So I went treasure hunting in the basement.

As I “shopped” through my reclaimed things I came across that bargain plant stand. It was too small but matched the wood on the hub’s leather sofa set perfectly. I brought it upstairs and paired it with a round glass topper from HobLob. For the next three months it served the purpose but I wasn’t in love with it.

Surfing the online garage sale site one day I came across someone selling a round 3-legged table. Do you remember these? I had one in my very first place out of high school. It was draped with a horrific pink laced topper and doily set and covered with glass. It was in my living room next to a rose-colored rocker and ottoman. It’s too bad I don’t have photos of that – not.

I looked at the computer screen then at the table beside me. Back to the screen and then to the table. I had an idea….

I bought the table for $3 and went to work deconstructing it. I unscrewed the table legs and removed the hardware.

I flipped the plant stand upside down and drilled holes through the underside to secure screws through and into the new top.

To tie the new table base in with our furniture set, I added some regular silver thumb tacks to the legs to mimic nailhead trim.

Then I went to town painting the hideous particle board. I layered on a few different blues and sanded in between coats. I wanted to add texture along with color. It wasn’t my intention for it to appear celestial but I liked it.

After waiting forever a few hours for the top to completely dry I attached it to the base. But when I flipped it right-side up and topped it off with the glass, something didn’t look right.

Because the cheap-o table was meant to be covered with a tablecloth the edges of the top were left unfinished. Even after painting, the edge looked terrible. So I tapped in more silver thumb tacks along the top’s perimeter and wound medium gauge wire around the tacks.

The metal did a good job of obscuring the unfinished edge and added a modern vibe to the traditional wooden base. For good measure, I rubbed the legs down with some chocolate stain and let it dry before bringing inside. Topped with a few second hand tchotchkes and nestled in between the leather seats, this little plant stand has finally found it’s place in our home.

23 Nov

Bachelor Pad Island Makeover

So I have this friend of a friend who recently reclaimed his kitchen. He asked me to keep an eye out for an island so whenever I stopped into a thrift shop or GoodWill I looked but nothing caught my eye. Now, plenty of things found their way home with me but nothing that would work for him. Good old Craigslist and my go-to online garage sale sites turned up squat too. Sadly, I was *this* close to telling him to buy retail {gasp}.

You can imagine my giddy when I was on the way home from running the boy to school one day and caught something out of the corner of my eye. I slammed on my brakes cautiously turned the corner and pulled up in front of the neighbor’s house. Who am I kidding? I’m betting those folks still have skid marks in front of their house. I hopped out of the truck to get a better look.

diy kitchen island

This chick had great bones. She was solidly built and other than a few dings was in good shape so I loaded her up and took her home. I had no immediate plans but a free desk is a free desk. Being greedy generous, I posted a pic on my Facebook page thinking someone might spot me $20 for need a desk. I had no takers but I had an idea.

I sent the photo over to my pal and told him all the awesome things I could do to recreate it as an island. He was a good sport and entertained my nonsense but wasn’t a fan of the dark wood. Plus, he had his heart set on a butcherblock top and didn’t think I could do much this boring old desk. Sigh. So. close.

And so it sat in my garage all summer and well into the fall. Cleaning up after our neighborhood rummage sale, I pulled it out and grabbed some sandpaper. It didn’t take long to see some potential. As much as I hated the veneer top I loved its rounded edge. Since it was secured with screws it came off easily. I set it on the ground and placed the desk on top of it. Wait a minute…

I was stoked and broke out the primer.

The original desk’s height was 30″. Standard counter height is 36″. Even with a new top, I’d need to make up a 4″ difference. The obvious choice was to add feet. Surfing the ‘net I found a few retail options priced at $7 or more – each. Uh. Yeah. No. So I headed over to Menards and grabbed a hunk of 3″ x 3″ x 36″ hardwood for $12. I used a jigsaw to bevel the corners at 45 degrees. It felt a tad chunky so I manually rounded out the edges. The result wasn’t exactly the same as my inspiration but totally doable.

{Tip: It’s not a bad idea to bring your inspiration piece home to use as a sample. Just be sure to keep your receipt and take it back when you’re done. $7 can buy you a gallon of Oops paint yo!}

Ideally, my buddy wanted open shelving and a concealed garbage area. The measurements of the existing chair opening proved too narrow, so I performed minor lumber surgery where the drawers had been and found plans for a tilt-out trash can on a fellow blogger’s site. Since I was restricted by the desk’s original dimensions, I made slight modifications to the plan (read: I crossed my fingers & cut) but overall it was a very simple build.

The drawers weren’t the same size and after framing out the fronts, I opted to flip-flop them and cut off a bit of the overhang. I cut the shelf out of plywood then glued and screwed it to the existing supports. To play off the once-top-now-bottom’s rounded edge I nailed in some scrap shoe molding to the shelf (this did double duty to hide minor gaps).

Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? Don’t be. This stuff is easier than it looks. For the record, I don’t worry about being too precise in my measurements. Spackle and paint make a girl what she ain’t.

See? A flawless finish.

As you’re working it’s a good idea to frequently step back and give your piece a once over. A few times great ideas in my head didn’t look so hot in reality. Originally, I had grand plans to hand-fab the wood top out of 2″ x 6″ rosewood lumber. I placed the wood on the base and snapped a photo and sent it to my friend for a second opinion who was quick to point out that I had installed the hinges incorrectly.

Being a hobby woodworker, he wanted to know how I planned to square up and plane the hunks of wood for the top. Um…well….yeah, it didn’t take long before I realized that I didn’t have the proper tools (table saw, planer, wood clamps, etc.) to accomplish the task. Grrr.

So I did what any good DIYer would do – I turned to alcohol Google for advice. At 2:00 am, I stumbled upon a pinned photo of an old dresser turned kitchen island. So the next day I picked up a 30″ x 60″ edge glued slab and cut it down lengthwise; sanded it down and brushed on some wood conditioner. Then I trimmed out the edges with lattice and (3) stain and (4) seal applications later the top was done! Crisis and alcoholism averted again.

Lattice trim was cut, mitered and installed on the garbage door front and island side panels. Then all the holes were filled and the entire piece was sanded, primed and painted. And sanded and painted. And painted.

And then I decided I didn’t like the monotone all-over green color and took some designer liberties.

{Tip: Adding some white to your paint will maintain the tone but modify saturation resulting in a lighter shade. This is much easier than trying to coordinate color swatches at the store. Plus it’s quicker and cheaper and all the rage now thanks to the ombre effect.}

After the paint dried, the back (1/8″ mdf) went on along with support brackets ($1 thrift store shelf arms) and trim (1/4″ wood lattice) with glue and nails.

I was in such a rush to get this delivered, I completely forgot to take photos of the top install. (Assuming you’re still reading I’ll describe the process.) I placed the finished wood slab upside down and flipped the cabinet base on top. Using a nail to mark the existing holes in the frame I marked out where to pre-drill the wood (to prevent splitting). I reattached the original screws and flipped it back over to add my ReStore score hardware {$0.25 a piece!}.

I’m so glad I decided to pull designer rank because the lighter door fronts contrast the darker base perfectly. The hardware is modern and that tilt-out door is just sassy. Sassy I say.

Can you believe it’s even the same piece?? Let me save you the trouble of scrolling back up…

I know right? And he didn’t think it could be done…pshaw.

Thank you for making it all the way to the end of this post. I feel like you should win a prize or something.


19 Nov

More Ideas Than Time

disaster area

Sometime yesterday in between coats of paint on GPG’s man-land (this reveal is coming!) I was struck with a fantastic idea for today’s post. It was witty and creative; fun but not overdone. Sometime between then and now I completely forgot whatever that grand notion was – I really need to start writing things down.

I was the queen of organization when I was running my own office. Folks used to comment on how (anal-retentively) organized my files, samples, submittals, etc. were. Not only did everything have a place, everything was in its place. It was a very efficient spot to spend upwards of 12 hours daily and I was on top of it all.

My house? Notsomuch.

I have stacks and piles and pieces of papers everywhere. And it’s not limited to my home office. The insanity spills out on into the living room and most of it ends up on the dining room table. And there. it. sits.

Forever. I bet you can already guess what is #1 on my New Year’s Resolution list. (If you guessed “Buy more paint” you’d be right. Can you ever have too much paint?? Me thinks not.)


Anyhow, I blame the clutter factor on an open concept floor plan. I don’t know when this phenomenon started or who’s idea it was to have every single room flow right into the next but the lack of walls breeds chaos in my opinion. The crap has no boundaries. There are no limits and so it just keeps E X P A N D I N G. It certainly doesn’t help that I have more ideas than time (I even made a sign saying so – see it on the table?) and tend to occupy the house nearly all 24 hours of the day – mostly awake – generating more mess. Plus, we live in a ranch. Those of you who have the ability to stash the fruits of your labor upstairs will understand my plight. All of my junk is on the same level.

It seems like every time I turn on HGTV another property virgin is complaining about the lack of ‘openness’ wondering how she can prepare a fabulous meal whilst being closed off from her umpteen guests. And she “just can’t imagine not being able to watch little MariLou playing in the other room” (right outside the doorway). Now, correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t millions of women successfully raise children without having one eye on them at every single moment? And isn’t there a reason the kitchen is completely closed off in every fine dining establishment in the Western world?

I want personal space. I don’t want folks (or kids or critters) in my kitchen when I’m whipping up a decadent feast (i.e., scooping something store-bought onto serving plates) or downing a glass of wine to maintain an award-winning personality. (I kid, I kid – that comes naturally.) I have a ‘One Person in the Kitchen’ Rule. I believe the less witnesses to the crime the better. I would love to have four walls and a door separating me from the guests.

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I’m lucky to not host guests for dinner. So I don’t have to hurry up and clear off my dining room table. The mess can sit as I get my grub on elsewhere. Yet, it’s not turkey and potatoes I’m craving. I am hungry for organization.

To feed  my creativity, I think I need to conquer the sprawl and box myself back into a pretty 12 x 12 space. Fill up on efficiency and then maybe I’ll have better luck at composing brilliant blogs.

At a minimum, I *might* be able to find my darn To Do list.

Thanks for checking in and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

How do you conquer clutter and keep track of everything? There is a psychology behind the stack, pile or file methods. Check it out here.

13 Nov

My Succotash Wish

A few nights ago my 14 year old rode along to my designated ‘drop spot’ and as we waited I pulled up an old song that had been running through my mind since the day I launched the blog. Have you ever had an earworm? I can’t shake them until I hear the song and I figured I had a few minutes to kill.

The look on that kid’s face as he watched my phone’s screen in adolescent horror was priceless. I didn’t get a pic of it though so here’s the video instead.

About 30 seconds in he gasped “What IS that?” as I totally rocked out to the song, right there in the gas station parking lot. I attempted to explain but how exactly do you explain Dee-Groovy? Some things just get lost in translation.

Anyhow, the girl I was meeting pulled up and rescued the boy from further sensory torture. We gave each other that “is that you? ’cause it’s me” look & hopped out of our cars. Less than a minute later I was headed home – down some unwanted dust catcher and up $20 big ones.

Since I left the rat race last December, I have had lots of time on my hands. I also have parents who live in Mayberry with little access to most modern day conveniences I take for granted ~ like HobLob. (I would die, seriously.) So during one of our marathon phone convos Mom mentioned needing some stands and wanted “something cute like a high chair or buggy” for the creepy little dolls she makes. She wanted accessories but she wanted them cheap.

Aside from the usual craft store suspects, I figured I could hit the local thrifts for her. Then, I remembered someone adding me to some online garage sale group within Facebook and clicked to see what I could find.

OH. BOY. the things I found. Do you know about this crack-laden lair within FB?

Apparently, there are upwards of 50 groups here locally where women (and a few men) buy and sell and buy and sell their unwanted things all day long. It took about 15 seconds to find a miniature Red Flyer wagon and make arrangements to drop $2.00 on it (hi Elisha!). Then I came across a wicker buggy Mom would love – for a buck!

Six hours later not a darn thing had gotten done in the house but I had plans to meet up with a handful of chicas to pawn off my goods. FOR CASH. SERIOUSLY? Yes. Seriously.

All summer long as I worked through my mile-long “To Do” list I funded projects with online garage sale earnings. The deal was I could not buy something new unless I sold something old, that way I wasn’t taking money out of the household to fund my addiction craft. At the same time I was offloading unwanted crap. Not only was it a brilliant two-fer, it proved profitable enough to invest in this website.

I suppose that means this entire venture was supported and funded by my local community.

One benefit I hadn’t anticipated from the multitude of plastic bins overtaking the living room was meeting so many wonderful women through the groups. Many have become great friends and shown genuine interest in my design ability. Quite a few of them may be reading this right now and should recognize their castoffs in project “Before” photos. So to them I say “thank you”.

Yesterday, as I caught up with members of my new blogging community I basked in the whipped cream yumminess of a vanilla latte {that I had not spent $4.00 on}.

In true DIY style, I concocted my creative juice with a machine I’d scored for $50 within the group.

While I am sad to say I may have a hand in a barista or two on the unemployment line, a $3.50/cup savings means more cha-ching for decor bling.

Last night, I sold my first professional piece (posted for sale in the group) and it was exhilarating.


Here are a few other items that have changed hands and gotten make-overs (see yours Carri Ann?):

It’s for certain – the DIY groove is in my heart and it’s awesomely Dee-lightful to share it with you all.