A Tour of Erika’s Sunroom

Every now and then, I take my readers over to visit my mom Erika’s beautiful garden.  But today we’re headed inside her house to tour her charming sunroom.  

It’s my favorite room in her house and the one I always gravitate toward.  But it was not always like that. 

In fact, it was not always a sunroom.

A Porch Conversion

When Mom first moved into her mid century rambler, the sunroom was actually just a covered porch.

The original covered back porch.

Even though the porch was in dire need of a facelift (as was the rest of the house), it was a nice place to relax on a warm day.  But it wasn’t living up to its full potential.  Mom could almost hear the porch begging to be enclosed and converted to a sunroom that could be enjoyed year round. 

So that is exactly what she did.  She hired out some of the work, and she had some help from my brother Dan.  But she did much of the work herself – including installing the ceramic tile floor.

A door in the media room gives us access the sunroom.  Let’s go back in time to right after Mom got the house.  This was the media room then – and the door to what was then the covered porch.

Before improvements: The media room and the door to the covered porch.

 

The media room was probably the ugliest room in the house  – and if this photo isn’t proof that Mom is fearless, I don’t know what is.  (Actually, at the time I think we were all pretty excited about the potential of Mom’s cosmetic fixer.)

The Tour Begins

Of course, Mom immediately made improvements to the media room.  This is the entrance to the sunroom now.

media room after
The media room, after improvements, with the sunroom beyond.

 

The sunroom is long and narrow, so Mom divided it into three zones.

The Tea Room

Coming through the media room door, this is the first area we see.  

Sunroom

A corner of windows gives it abundant natural light.  When I visit Mom, especially on a rainy day, there is nothing I love more than to sip a cup of tea with her here.

 

Porch converted to a sunroom.

For a rustic contrast, Mom kept the original  pine ceiling.

If we turn toward the bank of windows, we have access to the outdoors.

Exit door of the sunroom.

And here I must mention that my brother Dan did the interior finish work on all the windows and doors.

Sunroom bank of windows.

He did a beautiful job of trimming them, and it was good practice for the stunning dining room conversion he undertook at his own house a few years later.

The Reading Area

If we turn from the tea room, we face a teak bench.  It serves as a reading area, but more importantly it helps to separate the potting area behind it from the tea room.  

teak bench

The bench divides and defines the spaces, yet it is low enough to allow ample light and a spacious feel.

Plus, no matter who you are, it is a nice place to relax.

Teak bench and our loyal buddy,

The Potting Area

The newest addition to Mom’s greenhouse is the bench that my father built years ago.  In my childhood home, this bench sat in the entry hall.

Mid century shoe bench before its facelift.

 

Mom replaced the cushioned seat with a laminate, added a little paint, and now the bench is part of her potting area.  It stores potting supplies, and the top can be used as a work surface.

Sunroom

And from the tea room, we don’t see the potting soil, empty pots, or hand trowels.

Sunroom potting area

But this is where plants are overwintered and tubers are started in Spring. 

Mom saves money by buying annuals in small six-packs (aka pony packs) and then separating them into 4-inch pots.  There they have room to grow and are protected in her sunroom until it’s warm enough to plant them outdoors.

 

A shelf in the corner holds decor and plants.

Asia-inspired shelf

 

It is still bright enough in this corner for the plants to thrive.

Plants on red shelf

 

Sun-loving plants are placed near the windows.

Sunroom

This concludes our little tour of Mom’s sunroom.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunroom

Now it’s time for Mom to relax a bit with her loyal companion before starting her next project.  But knowing Mom, she won’t be sitting for long.

Sunroom

Here are my previous posts about Mom’s home and garden:

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Did You Know

Mom is also a writer.  She currently has two books available on AmazonYear of the Angels, a touching historical fiction novel based on her real-life experiences during WWII, and Cries from the Fifth Floor, a fun paranormal thriller/murder mystery.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

 

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Our New Coffee Station

Last fall, a cousin invited us to her party and made me cup of coffee with her little Nespresso machine.  Specifically, she made me a lungo – which, to me, is a cross between a shot of espresso and an Americano.  It was a strong and delicious cup of coffee, with the water steamed to a light froth. 

It reminded me of Europe:  The hotels where we stayed all had these nifty coffee machines in their breakfast rooms that, with the push of a button, could produce lungos, espressos, cappuccinos, and more – on demand.  These were small cups of coffee – six ounces at most – not the grande-sized drinks we are used to here in the States.  

So when Chris found a barely-used Nespresso Lattissima Plus on eBay, he surprised me with it on Christmas. 

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It was one of the nicer Nespresso models and could make both milk- and water-based coffee drinks.  (This model is also currently available, new and used, through Amazon.)

Worrying – It’s What I Do Best

I was excited about my gift but also hesitant.  

First of all, even though it was a small machine, it was still something that would take up countertop space (and an electrical outlet) in our kitchen.  And since this little machine would only make single cups of coffee, and short ones at that, it would not take the place of our existing coffee maker.  So we’d have to keep that one as well.  

Secondly, it came with disposable pods.  And we couldn’t send the used pods out in our curbside recycle bin.  Nespresso does offer several ways to recycle their pods, but those ways would require more effort on our part than curbside recycling.  

And lastly, cleaning the machine, specifically the milk spout, looked like a lot of work.

 

No Worries

Chris immediately dispelled my concern about cleaning the milk spout.  He showed me the button to push to automatically clean the spout with steamed water.

“Now just try it,” he said.   “We don’t have to keep it.”

Moments later, while sipping a delicious lungo, I said “Oh we’re keeping it.”

So I pushed aside some of the serveware on the hutch countertop and plugged the Nespresso in there.

The clutter was not ideal, but it was wonderful to be able to make espresso drinks so easily.

A demitasse filled with espresso and cream.

But soon the used pods were piling up – and so was my guilt over having them. 

Used pods. How were we going to recycle them?

So we ordered RECAPS stainless steel refillable capsule pods.  They work with most (but not all) Nespresso makes and models.  Luckily they would work with ours.

Now that we had these reusable pods, we could fill them with our own coffee – any coffee we liked!  And we would save money by not having to buy more disposable pods.  (It’s funny how, oftentimes, doing something good for the planet also results in saving money.)  

We followed the directions carefully and got good results.  A few experimental cups taught us that the coffee has to be tamped down and compacted in the pod – but not too tightly.  There also has to be a small – very small – bit of space left in the pod.  

 

The Coffee Station 

The hutch countertop remained cluttered until recently when we added this vintage cabinet to our kitchen.  It now holds most of our casual serveware. 

This freed up space on the hutch countertop for a prettier coffee station.  

Coincidentally, my mom Erika had been organizing recently too – in her craft/sunroom.  (We’re going there, by the way, in a future post.  Her sunroom is so pretty that I have to show you.)  She offered me one of the beautiful landscapes she paints. 

 When I got it home, I set it on the hutch until I found a place for it – and then I realized that the hutch is the perfect place.  (Lately I’ve been loving the casual look of simply propping art against walls on tables and countertops.  It makes it so easy to “layer” the pieces with more art or move pieces around.)

I found a new tray with colors that complement the painting.

And we finally had the perfect place for our cute vintage Dienes coffee grinder.

We don’t do syrups in our coffee, so I kept the coffee station simple.  The Frango tin holds a bag of powdered cocoa for the occasional mocha or hot chocolate.

 

As far as the machine itself goes, my only small issue is that sometimes the steamed milk could be a bit warmer.  (And I keep forgetting to put the detachable milk carafe back in the fridge after making a milk-based drink.  But I can’t blame the machine for that!)

 

Overall, we’ve really upped our coffee game around here, and I’m feeling better about keeping the machine.  Coffee anyone?

Resources:

There are many varieties of Nespresso machines out there, some of them smaller and simpler than mine.  But I would advise visiting a Nespresso boutique for a taste test before making a purchase.

RECAPS stainless steel refillable capsule pods are designed to work with most (but not all) Nespresso makes and models.

 

 

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.

 

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Kitchen Storage with a Vintage Twist

Today  I’m sharing a fun little organizing project that I’m very happy with.  I always love it when wasted space finally gets put to good use.  And this time, it was . . . 

An Underutilized Kitchen Corner

Although we remodeled our kitchen several years ago, there is one space that we could have done a better job of thinking through:  The bland, empty corner where the cabinetry ends on the north wall.

The heat register, the light switch, and the traffic flow from the kitchen to the hallway all made this corner a bit challenging to plan.  At the time of our remodel, we had so many other decisions to make that we didn’t give it proper attention.

It became a feeding station for our cats – which actually was great since, for the most part, it kept our little darlings away from the food prep area.  But now our only cat is the lovely Priscilla, and she prefers to eat her meals upstairs.

 

 

I was thrilled at her choice because I could finally do something more with this underappreciated corner.  But what? Since shelving wouldn’t block the heat register, I was considering attaching shelves, or maybe a floating bookcase, to the pantry cabinet on the left.

I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

A Vintage Fir Cabinet

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Around the same time, Chris started asking me when I was going to do something, anything, with the vintage cabinets that I’d had in our garage for the past couple of years.

Salvaged fir built-ins.

We’d picked these two cabinets up at a garage sale for $5 apiece.  Since each cabinet only has two “good,” finished sides (the front and one side), my assumption is that they were actually built-ins that had been pulled out of an old house.

The flush-mount cabinet doors, the glass knobs, and the leaded glass fronts, are all similar to the original dining room cabinetry in our house – which was built in the 1920s.

So to me, buying the cabinets was a no-brainer.

I just had no idea what we were going to do with them.  There didn’t seem to be any good place to put them if we were going to keep them together.

 

 

With Chris wanting his garage space back, and with the cat bowls gone, it finally clicked.  I took measurements and, sure enough, one of those vintage cabinets (the one with its “good side” on the right) would fit in that blank kitchen corner without obstructing the light switch – if we put legs on it so that it would clear the heat register.

But that old cabinet would need a lot more than just legs.

Paint or Finish?

I originally wanted to paint the cabinet the same white as our kitchen cabinets.  But then I noticed that it had been painted – and someone had gone through the painstaking work of stripping the paint and sanding it.

And the wood was fir – like our floors.  Since someone else had already done all the hard work, I decided to apply a finish to the exterior and paint only the interior.

(I went ahead and worked on both cabinets at once – even though my plans for the second cabinet are still in flux.)

 

A Danish Oil Finish

For the exterior, I used Watco Danish Oil in Natural.  It can be applied with a rag, which I find so much easier than using a paint brush – at least on non-ornate surfaces.

Danish oil is not like Polyurethane, and I found this post that explains the differences.  And this post has helpful tips on the proper method of application – which I followed – as well as the proper way to handle application rags since – yikes! –  a wadded-up oil-soaked rag could possibly combust!

Applying the oil with a rag was easy, but the wood was very thirsty.  I probably applied 10 layers of the oil over the course of several days.

Cabinet doors prepped for finish.

Prime and Paint

I painted the interior with three coats of primer and two coats of white paint.

Cabinets after three coats of primer.

For smaller flat surfaces like this, I prefer to use a Shur-Line paint edger instead of a roller because it gives me a smooth, even finish.  Then I use a small paint brush for the hard-to-reach areas.

The white paint is a custom blend that matches our kitchen cabinets and is the same paint I used on the walls for our laundry room remodel.

Stencil!

Finally the fun part:  A stencil!  I just wanted a simple accent and, since I couldn’t find a stencil I liked, I used one I’ve had on hand for years.

I practiced a little and experimented with color combinations.

But in the end I kept it simple with a Navy Blue by FolkArt and a little dot of Tuscan Red by Americana.

Legs

Now the cabinet needed legs.  Chris and I looked online.  We visited big box stores and specialty lumber stores.  But we wound up buying these legs on Amazon.

Legs with the first coat of Danish oil drying.

They were unfinished, so I applied countless coats of Danish oil on them as well.

Now it was time for Chris to get to work.

He attached the legs to the cabinet.

To give the piece character, Chris made sure the knot in one of the legs was placed so that it would be visible.

And then, because we live in earthquake country, he secured the cabinet to our built-in pantry.

Refurbished fir cabinet.

The Result

I moved the Fiestaware that my Mom gave me for Christmas, and many of our other blue-and-white serving pieces, into the cabinet.  This is where our fun, casual, and colorful pieces live now.

Refurbished fir cabinet with vintage serving pieces.

The cabinet is recessed enough so that it doesn’t impede traffic flow from the kitchen to the hallway.

Refurbished fir cabinet.

And it adds charm.

Refurbished fir cabinet as kitchen storage.

I’m glad I kept the wood exterior.  It works well with the floor and the built-in hutch’s wooden countertop.

Refurbished fir cabinet as kitchen storage.

 

Vintage serving pieces in a refurbished fir cabinet.

Adding this little fir cabinet has caused a happy chain reaction:  There is now more space in all of our overhead kitchen cabinets.

And I even reclaimed some countertop space on the hutch – enough for the snazzy new coffee station that I will be sharing soon (unless the gremlins return to mutilate my blog again, in which case it won’t be soon).

As for that second vintage cabinet, I haven’t completely decided how I’m going to use it.  But I have a few ideas.  So stay tuned!

In Other News

I love to support artists, and I buy vintage instead of new whenever I can.  That’s why I’ve always been proud to be an Etsy affiliate.

But now I have another reason to love Etsy:  It has become the first online retailer to offset 100% of their carbon emissions from shipping. That’s amazing.  Let the guilt-free shopping begin!

I hope other online retailers follow suit, but right now Etsy is leading the way.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

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The Rebel Tree

Most years, I thoroughly embrace the holiday season.  But, every now and then, I hit a wall.  Last year, it happened around mid-December.  The holiday decor that I’d been so excited to bring out after Thanksgiving suddenly seemed like just more clutter.  And it all needed dusting.  

This season, I hit the wall even earlier.  Before Thanksgiving, thanks to social media, I’d already seen too much too soon: Too many heavily flocked trees groaning under the weight of too many glitzy baubels. 

And all I could think was “This again already?”

So this year, I decided to rebel against holiday glitz – not the holidays, just the glitz. 

My husband, Chris, always looks forward to having a tree, so I knew we had to have one.  But it would be scaled back, simplified, and, well, un-glitzy. 

And it would be given room to breathe.

 

Finding The Right Tree

I wanted a pre-lit artificial tree, but with a specific look:  It had to be very narrow – with lots of space between the branches, and a thick wooden trunk.

I’d seen that kind of tree around.  They are sometimes called alpine trees, and they look similar to these trees. 

I found a very inexpensive five-foot alpine tree at a local craft store.  The tree was not great quality, but I was not deterred.

I brought it home, assembled it in minutes, and fluffed the branches. 

Chris looked a little disappointed. But I had a plan.

Making an Artificial Tree Look Natural

The tree was already mounted on a metal base, and there were 18 inches between the base and the first branch.  So I simply plopped it into a 10-inch tall (and 15-inch wide) peck basket. 

Artificial tree base in a peck basket.

I had some plastic bags on hand that I’d been collecting to send out with our recycling. So I tucked them around the tree trunk and filled the basket with them.  This plastic bag “stuffing” would support the sheet moss that I would be placing on top.

I cut the sheet moss to size and placed it on top of the plastic bags, tucking it into the basket around the edges.  (Sheet moss has really been my friend lately.  I also used it for this fall vignette and in a setting I created for this holiday house.)

How to make an artificial tree look natural
Sheet moss placed at the base of the tree.

I used Buffalo Snow to conceal the cut edges of the sheet moss and give the tree base a wintry look.

How to make an artificial tree look natural.

Now it looked more like a live tree planted in a basket.  Chris was starting to feel better about this whole thing.

Except for the lights, there could be nothing sparkly or shiny on this tree.  So I added just a few frosted pinecones and small white bells that I already had on hand. 

And I used these cute pinecone sprigs from last year’s holiday chandelier decor.

holiday pinecones on a 1920s era chandelier.

 

I tried adding some of my Christmas ornaments – the ones that were made of natural materials or were otherwise non-glitzy.  But even that was going too far.

I also thought about adding berries, but in the end I decided to ban red from the tree altogether.  The tree is a quiet, soothing combination of green, white, and brown.

How to make an artificial tree look natural.

And I chose the peck basket because it also looks natural and has no sheen.

How to make an artificial tree look natural.

 

If I use this tree again next year, I might go with red – maybe plaid garlands or bows.   But who knows, by then I might be in the mood for glitz again – or ready to go back to our old, nicer-quality tree.

I think the mistake I’ve been making all along is that I tend to get sentimental about the ornaments that I’ve collected, and I feel obligated to use all of them every year.   

It was just another case of my stuff controlling me instead of the other way around.  

But this year is different.  I am getting more enjoyment from the few things that I have chosen to display. 

Sometimes less is more.

Vintage putz church

Happy Holidays!

This is my last post before I tuck this blog in, once again, for its long winter’s nap.  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and for your input and encouraging words. 

I’ll be back in January.  Until then, may all of your holiday dreams come true! 

Happy holidays

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Holiday Reading

The novel Year of the Angels begins and ends with an Old-World Christmas.  But it’s what happens between those two Christmases that makes this book so fascinating.

Year of the Angels

 

Lillipost

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Nature-Inspired Gift Wrap – And Nature-Inspired Gifts

The short days and weak light of winter always have me feeling like I’m missing out on the beauty of nature.  So I look for small ways to bring nature indoors. 

Last year, I frosted alliums for holiday decor. 

Frosted alliums

And every year, I start paperwhite bulbs indoors for the holidays. 

Starting paperwhites indoors

For my annual DIY holiday wreath, I usually forage my neighborhood for the materials.

A wreath made of found materials.

When it comes to holiday decor, give me nature over man-made glitz.

Shopping My Own Garden

So last year, I shopped my own garden for natural materials to make “bows” and decorations to use with my holiday gift wrap.  These little package adornments were fun to make, unique, and nature friendly.  And they cost me almost nothing. 

And today, I’m sharing my two favorites.

A Boxwood Mini-Wreath

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I cut short twigs from our boxwood hedge for this buttoned-up little wreath that measured just 5 1/2 inches in diameter.

 

A boxwood mini-wreath

To make it, I bent 19-gauge steel wire into a 3 1/2-inch diameter circle.  Then I used brass-colored beading wire to wrap two-inch lengths of boxwood to the wire circle.  Of course, since I was working with wire, I wore gloves.

I had to work with it for a while to get it right.  I tucked in additional boxwood sprigs where it still looked thin.

Then I tied it up with a bow made of narrow cloth ribbon.

Simple, and it looked so nice on the package.  But it could also be used as an ornament.

A holiday package with a boxwood mini wreath

Fragrance “Bow”

For a bow that smelled fresh and wonderful, I used rosemary sprigs and  bay leaves from the garden and then added a couple of sticks of cinnamon.  

I tied them into an attractive bundle and simply taped the bundle to the package.

A natural fragrance "box" for a holiday package.

 

Since the the fragrance bow consisted of herbs and cinnamon, it was a nice garnish for a kitchen-themed gift.

Holiday packages

These gift wrap decorations were eco-friendly because, once the ribbons and wires were removed, they could be composted.  Or, in the case of the bay leaves, they could be used to lend flavor to a roast or a stew.  

Nature-Inspired Gifts

So if I can make nature-inspired bows, why not wrap up a few nature-inspired gifts?

And especially since, often times, natural or eco-friendly gifts are made by small companies of artisans.  I’d be helping to support the “little guy,” and I always love that.

Here are just a few of the gift ideas that have me dreaming today.

Gifts for Warmth and Comfort

These comfy-looking Merino sheep woolen natural slippers by MerinosShop are treated with Lanolin.  I can’t vouch for the science, but Lanolin, a natural wax, is said to help relieve inflammation.

Merino Wool Slippers; photo courtesy of MerinosShop

 

I’m guessing even the woman who has everything might not have these natural yak woolen gloves by Handcombed.

Eco gloves; photo courtesy of Handcombed.

 

An Oatmeal and Honey Deluxe Bath Bomb by CopperCatApothecary would make a fun stocking stuffer for someone who needs a little pampering.

Oatmeal and honey bath bombs; photo courtesy of CopperCatApothecary.

Gifts for the Cook/Baker

It seems embossed rolling pins are everywhere this year.  This “Herbs” rolling pin by MoodForWood is designed and made in Poland using wood from environmentally responsible sources.  

“Herbs” embossed rolling pin; photo courtesy of MoodForWood.

 

These spools of biodegradable, eco-friendly cotton baker’s twine by DoltYarns would make wonderful – and affordable – hostess gifts or stocking stuffers for the cooks or crafters on my list.

Eco-friendly baker’s twine; photo courtesy of DoltYarns.

 

I love the look of BackBayPottery’s four-cup batter bowl, which is handmade in California.

Batter bowl; photo courtesy of BackBayPottery.

 

Gifts for the Bird Watcher

I’d never heard of bird nesters before, but they seem like a great way to attract birds to the garden by providing them with fibers to build their nests.  And some bird nesters are also very decorative – like this llama fiber bird nester by FoxHillLlamas.

Llama fiber bird nester; photo courtesy of FoxHillLamas.

 

This spiral birdseed wreath by PartyInTheBarn would make a cute stocking stuffer for the bird watcher on my list.

Spiral birdseed wreath; photo courtesy of PartyInTheBarn.

 

And in case you’re looking for a little more holiday gift wrap inspiration, check out these easy holiday gift wrap ideas.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.

Holiday Reading

The novel Year of the Angels begins and ends with an Old-World Christmas.  But it’s what happens between those two Christmases that makes this book so fascinating.

Year of the Angels

 

 

Lillipost

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The Storybook House

Once Upon a Time, in a quiet seaside neighborhood, there was a little shop with the most charming window display in all the land:  Old, forgotten books had been magically transformed into a village of holiday houses.  The covers of the books were the roofs, and the pages were the exterior walls.  The theme was black and white  – printed words on white paper. 

I was enchanted with these holiday houses, and I vowed that one day I would try this project myself.

Fast forward three years.  And my little niece is shaping up to be a bit of a book worm.  So I used her as my excuse – I mean my reason – for making a colorful version of the holiday houses by using a children’s book.  

But, unlike the holiday houses, my “Storybook House” would have a door and a window to view interior scenes.

The Materials

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I headed to the thrift store to find a children’s book with charming illustrations of both indoor and outdoor scenes.

Now, this book was going to be cut up, pages torn out, completely reconfigured.  So I would not be looking for a rare classic.  I found this adorable Little Golden Book, which is still in print.  

The  book measured 6.5″ X 8″.  I would be using the book cover as the roof of the house.   I found a box that measured 7″ X 9″ X 5″.  It would work for the body of the house.

DIY Craft Project Using Books - materials
The book and the box.

Cutting and More Cutting

It was time to turn the box into a house.  For this, I mostly used a straight edge, scissors, and a utility knife.

The House Frame

I cut away at the top of the box until I had a “roofline” to support the book cover.  I folded the two bottom side flaps of the box outward to make the house more stable, and I securely taped the remaining two flaps to form the house’s subfloor.

DIY Craft Project Using Books - frame

Then, I used Mod Podge to adhere Kraft Paper to the box.  This was just to smooth out the surface. 

The Floor

I also cut an extra piece of cardboard to use as the “floor” of the house.  There was an inside lining page in the book which consisted of a charming white-on-pink pattern.  I cut that page out and used the Mod Podge to adhere it to the cardboard piece.  Now I had a floor with a cute “linoleum” pattern.  

DIY Craft Project Using Books - frame
The house frame and the “linoleum” floor.

Then I measured, drew out, and then cut out a rounded doorway and a split window.  After all, there would be a lot going on inside this house, and I wanted it to be visible.

Decorating the House

Finally, it was time for the fun part:  Deciding which scenes from the book I would use for my house.  

Of course, I looked for indoor scenes to paste inside, and outdoor scenes for the exterior.  Then it was just a matter of cutting them to the size I needed and pasting them to the house using the Mod Podge

It was a very forgiving project – if I messed something up, I just pasted something else over it.  After I had everything pasted on, I painted a layer of Mod Podge over the whole house to protect it and give it a satiny sheen.

A Pre-Roof Tour

Here is a little tour of the house before the roof was attached.  

We’ll start with the front entrance.  Here we can see through to the back wall, where a Dad mouse is reading to his children.

DIY Craft Project Using Books - house before roof

 

This is inside the front door.

DIY Craft Project Using Books - house before roof

 

Here we see a bit of the kitchen and, to the right, a chipmunk is peeking in a high window.

DIY Craft Project Using Books - house before roof

 

Back outside, we can see through a window that a tired Dad bear is giving his cub a piggyback ride, while a chipmunk looks out the window of an apple tree.

DIY Craft Project Using Books - house before roof

 

And here you can see the little split window that I cut out.

DIY Craft Project Using Books - house before roof

My work is far from perfect, but the roof pulled it all together.

The Roof

I cut the remaining pages out of the book with my utility knife.  I was careful not to cut into the spine of the book.  I wanted an intact book cover.

And yes, I did feel a little bad about cutting up this cute book.  I’m saving the remaining pages and scraps for possible future projects.

After I had the book cover separated from the pages, it was no longer a book cover.  It was a roof.  And I carefully glued it to the house using plain old Elmer’s Glue-All and making sure there were no runs.

All Done!

The house doesn’t really look Christmassy.  It could be used any time of the year.   But an early winter storm just blew in, and snow is creeping up on the Storybook House.

 

 

DIY Craft Project Using Books - The Storybook House

The interior needed a little light.  I would never use a real wax candle in this little house, for obvious reasons.  So, I added a battery-operated candle sitting on a thread-spool “table.”

DIY Craft Project Using Books - The Storybook House

 

DIY Craft Project Using Books - The Storybook House

Nervous Aunt Heidi’s Child Safety Warning: 

I’m sure you already know that the Storybook House is not a toy.  It’s a decoration.  But it never hurts to share one of the formulas that I live by: 

Babies/Small kids + just about anything = disaster.

And we can’t have that because the kids, the rabbits, the chipmunks, and the bears, well, 

They all lived happily ever after.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Holiday Reading

The novel Year of the Angels begins and ends with an Old-World Christmas.  But it’s what happens between those two Christmases that makes this book so fascinating.

Year of the Angels

 

 

Lillipost

Lillypost is the #1 way for parents to discover new books that their little ones will love every month, for up to 50% off of regular retail prices.

 

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Treasures from the Forest Floor

I had some fun decorating my front porch for Halloween this year.  But, after Halloween had passed, I needed to find new decor inspiration for the porch.  And I got it from that old, underrated source:  The forest floor.

More specifically, the floor of my woodsy little shade garden.  There are plenty of mosses, lichens, berries, and fallen branches there this time of year.  And they can be so beautiful.

Lichens, mosses and berries

None of it looks perfect but, to me, fall is all about the imperfect beauty of nature. 

Recreating Nature

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So I took these treasures, and some store-bought moss, and created my little “slice of the forest floor.”

Natural fall decor

I added a rusty flower frog to the mix.  I wanted the whole thing to look a little like something you might find on a walk through a forgotten garden.  

natural fall decor

I got the chunk of moss that the arrangement sits on by wrapping sheet moss around a large, overturned terracotta saucer.

One thing I learned about this look, especially if you’ve had some fun foraging for materials, is that it’s easy to go a little overboard.  

This was my first attempt – cute, but too busy and too “styled.”

natural fall decor

I like the pared-down version I ended up with.

Natural fall decor

A Rustic Wreath

But I still had a lot of good moss left.  So I re-worked the twig wreath I made earlier this year.  The reindeer moss was beginning to lose its color.

Twig wreath before revamp

I pulled it off and added newer reindeer moss – plus some lichen-covered twigs from my shade garden.

 

 

Twig wreath: natural fall decor

The slice of the forest floor and the rustic wreath should make for a nice transition from fall into winter.  So, no worries if I’m slow getting around to holiday decor for the front porch.

But this lichen-and-moss look will stay outside for one reason:  Tiny critters.  Since most of the materials came from my garden, who knows what is living in that moss.  Whatever it is, it (and I) will be much happier if it stays outside.

Resources:

Bags of assorted mosses and lichens can spare you the work of finding your own – and the possibility of ride-along critters.

Sheet moss is a user-friendly liner – and a foundation for many creative projects.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Holiday Reading

The novel Year of the Angels begins and ends with an Old-World Christmas.  But it’s what happens between those two Christmases that makes this book so fascinating.

Year of the Angels

 

 

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Fall Decor Inspiration

If you’re one of my regular readers, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything lately.  That is because Chris and I have been in Europe for the past three weeks!  For someone as fascinated with history, old-world charm, and architecture as I am, it was a dream trip.  Of course I took a million photos, so I will be sharing some of them with you soon.

We just returned, and I am way behind on my fall decor.  So in this edition, as I sit here wide awake at 4:30 a.m., I would like to share some fall decor ideas from seasons past.

Bulbs are Beautiful

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Last fall, my Mom removed some of her crocosmia plants.  She offered me a handful of the dried plant stalks that she’d pulled out of the ground, bulb and all, so that I could use the seed heads in floral arrangements.  

But the bulbs and roots looked so interesting that I decided to use the whole plant as decor.

Fall decor inspiration: Crocosmia

It was simple:  I filled a shallow clay pot with floral foam and then covered the foam with forest moss.  I inserted a small bamboo garden stake in the middle and then secured the crocosmia stalks to it with garden twine.

I loved the look of the bulbs and winding roots.

Fall decor inspiration: Crocosmia

A Creepy Planter

A couple of years ago, I discovered a very interesting plant called a cushion bush (Calocephalus ‘Silver Stone’).  It became the centerpiece for my creepy little black-and-white Halloween planter.

For more on this planter, check out this post.

Gleaming Pumpkins

For a look that goes past Halloween and into Thanksgiving, I gave some mini pumpkins a gold leaf finish.

 

And I touched up a few birch leaves with the same treatment.  For more on how I did it, check out this post.

 

I found that gold-painted leaves are an elegant addition to Thanksgiving tables.

A Festive Fall Dinner Party

While we’re on the subject of festive tables, one of my first posts shared a lovely fall dinner table that my Mom had created.

But let’s go outside now.

A Hoppy Harvest Wreath

When making a wreath, I like to shop my own yard for material. A few years ago, I made a silly wreath using only hops.

Haunted Hatchlings

I’ll never forget the time that a nest of goofy, terrifying haunted hatchlings landed on our front porch.  

 

This look was fun to create, and it’s explained in this post.

A Lazy Woman’s Fall Front Porch

Last year, feeling lazy and thrifty, I shopped my house and garden for fall decor.    

Fall decor inspiration: Front Porch

I used what I already had on hand:  Pots, urns, dried flower heads, berries, and fall leaves.   

Fall decor inspiration: Front Porch

 

 

Fall decor inspiration: Front Porch

To my surprise, a strawberry plant I was keeping behind the garage was popping with fall color, so I moved it to the front door.

Fall decor inspiration: Front Porch

On the other side of the door, a begonia plant was starting to wind down after blooming all summer.  But its show wasn’t over yet.

Fall decor inspiration: Front Porch

As we got closer to Halloween, I changed the look just a bit.

Fall decor inspiration: Front Porch

Okay, I splurged a little with this fun new pillow cover that I’d found on sale at World Market.

Fall decor inspiration: Halloween pillow

Skeletons and pumpkins worked together to ward off the uninvited.  This is about as scary as we get around here.

Fall decor inspiration: Halloween lights

As you can see, I was too lazy to even remove the tag from the skeleton lights.

But now I need to get cracking on my fall decor for this year.  See you again soon, and I will share photos of some of the cool things we saw in Europe!

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Sources:  

  • Floral foam and forest moss were used in the crocosmia arrangement.
  • The premium leafing finishes that I used on the gleaming pumpkins are made by Precious Metals.  There are 8 colors available.
  • For the black eggs that the haunted hatchlings emerged from, I just painted clean cracked egg shells with a roughly 50/50 mix of Mod Podge and folkArt acrylic craft paint in Wrought Iron.  The Mod Podge helped strengthen the egg shells a bit and also added a nice sheen.
  • I love the Victorian skull pillow cover that I found at World Market.  I don’t know if they will be carrying it this year, but I do know that changing out pillow covers is one of the easiest ways to decorate for Halloween.  Etsy has a ton of fun Halloween pillow covers that go from farmhouse to frieghtening, and everything in between.  

I think this one by PamperedHomeDecor is especially fun.

 

 

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Simple DIY Toddler Dress-Up Outfits

Happy New Year!  It’s January, so we really should leave the holiday glitz behind and get busy organizing our closets, our cupboards, and our lives.

Or . . . we can start the New Year on a lighter note.  Want to see the silly little dress-up outfits that I made for my niece?  Sure you do.

Learning By Dressing

I was happily surprised when “dress-up items” appeared on the list of things my niece would enjoy for Christmas.  Even though she is a small toddler, apparently she likes to experiment with outfits and jewelry.  But at her age, she’s not trying to look like a princess.  She’s just using dress-up activities as a learning game.

So I thought it would be fun to pull a few things together for her.  But the ready-made dress-up costumes that I found – ones that were within my budget anyway – all had three issues:  They weren’t available in her tiny size, they looked cheaply made, and they looked stiff and uncomfortable.

So I decided to make her some dress-up outfits.  My sewing skills are pretty much limited to straight seams, so these little outfits would have to be simple.

Not Reinventing the Wheel

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I intended to sew a few tutus, but then I came across some lovely tutus in her size at Macy’s.  They were on sale, plus I had a coupon.  Sewing my own would have been more costly than buying them.

One of the tutus from Macy’s

The inside linings are very soft, so these tutus seem comfortable to wear and easy to pull up over leggings or even pants.

I bought two and added my own embellishments.  Using pom pom trim and torn strips of batik fabric (both left over from previous projects), I gave one tutu a colorful, zany look.  I added tulle flower trim to the other one for a classic ballerina look.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Tutus

I found a simple white sweater at a thrift store.  It looked almost new, and perhaps had never been worn at all.

Child's sweater from thrift shop

Such a cute little sweater.  I almost felt bad about what I had planned for it.

I washed it and added zany embellishments that complement the colorful tutu.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Embellished sweater

The strips of gathered tulle fabric sewn over the sleeves resemble little wings – or a cape.  She can use her imagination.

Reinventing the Wheel – Badly

I wanted to make a lined velvet cape to go with the ballerina tutu.  I don’t have much patience for following sewing patterns, so I thought it would be faster if I just cut fabric into a big circle and then chopped away at the circle until I had the form I wanted.

But was I ever wrong.  I almost gave up several times because the slippery, stretchy, velvety fabric I used was so hard to work with.  The cape, while cute at first glance, is definitely not my best sewing effort.

 

But oh well, it’s just for playing dress-up.

Felt Headbands

My niece visited us early in December, and I waited until she stopped running around for a moment to quickly measured the circumference of her head.

I used interfacing to create a basic headband form.

The pin was removed after the form was correctly sized and sewn together.

I made two of these forms.  Then I covered each one with felt fabric and embellishments to make comfortable but (hopefully) durable headbands.

One is colorful and wacky, the other classic with the same pink tulle flowers used on the ballerina tutu.

Jewelry and Pouches

I bought a couple of inexpensive children’s necklaces and sewed a simple pouch to hold each necklace.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Purchased necklaces with home made pouches

Vintage Gloves

My niece has lots of shoes, but I knew she needed gloves.  No dress-up ensemble is complete without them.

I purchased a little stack of vintage children’s gloves for a very reasonable price from a vendor on Etsy.com. 

Vintage gloves from Etsy vendor

While not in perfect condition, they looked and smelled fresh upon arrival.  Even so, I soaked and hand washed them in mild soap and a few drops of hydrogen peroxide.

The sizes varied.  I added the pair that she can wear now to her dress-up items.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Vintage gloves

The Box

A few years ago, a friend gave me a collection of postcards featuring the charming Flower Fairies illustrations of Cicely Mary Barker.  The illustrations were done between 1923 and 1948 and, although I missed the mark, they were my inspiration for the costumes.

So I glued a few of the postcards to the gift box that would hold her outfits.

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Inspiration for

Easy DIY Toddler Dress-Up: Dress up box

At this point, my niece is probably still rummaging through her Christmas gifts, so it could be a while before she turns her attention to these costumes.  But if she has half as much fun playing with them as I had putting them together, I will be happy.

This post is for entertainment only and is not a tutorial. Please consider all appropriate child safety issues before taking on similar projects.

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Second Tuesday Art Walk #5

Sweet and Simple Holiday Gift Wrap Ideas

Welcome to the December edition of Second Tuesday Art Walk.  I hope you’re enjoying this holiday season.

About a week ago, I had my first gift exchange with a small group of friends.  I’d shopped early for their gifts, knowing that I would have tons of time to wrap them.  Unlike previous years, this time I would make sure that each friend received an amazing, festively wrapped package – a package so stunning that she would not even want to unwrap it.

At least that was the plan.

Of course that didn’t happen because I waited until about 20 minutes before I had to leave the house to start wrapping.  Having tons of time just meant I could procrastinate longer.

So for me, simple gift wrap ideas are always the best.  But simple can be beautiful.  Today I’m sharing a few fun and surprisingly easy gift wrap ideas.

Car and Tree Cuteness

Heather at Growing Spaces  shows us how to make a car and tree package sure to bring out the kid in all of us.

Photo courtesy of Growing Spaces

Ruffle Yarn Ribbon

A few years ago, I used ruffle yarn as ribbon – with fun results.

Easy holiday gift wrap using ruffle yarn

Easy to find at craft stores, ruffle yarn is nice to work with because it can be pulled apart for a lace-like look, and it usually contains tiny sequins for a subtle holiday glimmer.

DIY Scandinavian-Inspired Gift Wrap

White wrapping paper and a sharpie – what could be easier?  Andrea at the.beauty.dojo shows us how easy it is to get that clean, minimalist Scandinavian look.  And she also offers us free printable gift tags to complete the look.

Photo courtesy of the.beauty.dojo

Paper Doilies

Last year I became obsessed with old-fashioned paper doilies.

Easy holiday gift wrap using doilies

I mostly used them with plain craft paper, but sometimes with fancier paper.  They were easy to attach using a glue stick.

Holiday wrap using paper doilies

 

And I found they were more interesting offset on the package rather than centered.

DIY Gift Bag From Wrapping Paper

Some gifts just don’t fit in a box.  And I don’t usually realize that until the last minute.  Luckily Tasha at Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body has a simple tutorial for creating a gift bag from wrapping paper.

Photo courtesy of Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body

DIY Paper Tassels

Tassels are hot this year.  And Debra at Vintage Paper Parade shares an easy way to make them.

Photo courtesy of Vintage Paper Parade

Fabric Strips

One year I used torn strips of muslin fabric, left over from a sewing project, instead of ribbons and bows.  The result was a soft, old-world look.

Easy holiday gift wrap using torn fabric

 

Happy Holidays Dear Friends!

I’m putting this blog down for her long winter’s nap, but we will pick things up again in January.  Until then, I wish you and yours every happiness that the holidays bring.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only.

 

Holiday Reading


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