Halloween Decor

I’m not really a fan of Halloween decorations.

There, I said it.

What’s so interesting about giant cobwebs, spiders, and dead bodies? I have most of those things around my house all year round! Not the bodies, but lots of spiders in spider webs!

My neighbor made a huge display on their tree and now that leaves are falling they’re caught and twisted in the fake cobwebs. They also have a strobe light that makes me think I’m going to have a seizure when I drive by at night. I’ve even seen green cobwebs that make me think of slime. Why would you want that “decorating” your house?

So, if I don’t really do Halloween decorations, what do I put up? Fallish stuff that can stay out until Thanksgiving such as:

There is one thing that I do every year for Halloween and that’s take Wilson, in costume, to visit the home my Grandparents moved to in 2007. Ready for the cuteness?


In 2009, Chase was visiting so I took both dogs. I was hoping to repeat that this year with Nixon but my little spaz… he wasn’t ready:

he could barely sit still and has been energetically jumping on everything and everyone in sight – so not ready to visit people who like calm dogs who don’t scratch, jump or freak out.

Wilson, however, loves visiting and is always on his best behavior. Doesn’t this look just scream “I’ll behave!”

Living Room Arrangements

Lately I’ve been playing around with Gliffy, a tool to create flow charts, org charts and diagrams. These have been really fun to make for my business blog and recently I tried out the floor plans, starting with the bathroom layout here and then proceeded to do the entire house. While it’s a bit large to post I have been taking pieces of the house and playing around with them.

Last weekend I was watching entirely too much Amazon streaming video while weaving a rug and thinking about the room. I’d decided to move the small dresser to the guest room which left a space on that side of the room to fill.

And, from experience, I can’t put any furniture that the dogs stand on or they’ll end up on the kitchen counter eating 2 dozen cupcakes. Trust me on this.

So, I decided to move the furniture and stumbled upon the best layout I’ve had in 3 years of owning this house!

Here’s the layout of the room without furniture:

Yes, the fireplace is a bit wonky being in the corner like that. But maybe you see the problem here. There’s two open doorways by the front door and hall (top left) and by the kitchen and dining area (bottom right) so not a whole lot of wall space for furniture. There’s just one window by the front door which makes natural light a rare commodity and the fireplace means it’s difficult to position furniture.

Here’s the before furniture arrangement:

Definitely weird and hard to walk from the hallway to the kitchen without bumping into something. Plus Nixon has a tendency to run down the hallway, launch himself on the back of the couch and then dive bomb across the room to the loveseat (the gray short couch on the bottom of this diagram).

And the after:

The major change was removing one piece of furniture! Yes, this small dresser is moving to the guest room to be refinished, painted and prettied up:

and by moving the TV and cabinet to the far wall I actually have space to walk through my living room!

As a bonus the large rug and dog bed are getting much more use as a wrestling mat as the dogs are taking advantage of the room to run. Oh, and the red runner thing is already gone (there to cover up the fact Wilson nibbled on that corners of the furniture) because Nixon was using it to surf. Yes, my dog would stand on the loveseat (now against the far wall), jump over to the chest that I’m using as a table and ride the slick table runner until he crashed onto the floor on the other side.

In this pic you can see the larger couch up against the common wall and again, dogs playing in the middle of the floor. It would be nice to have matching sofas some day but oh well, the ones I have are both comfy and were free so no complaints here.

I’ll definitely be leaving my furniture in this configuration until I decide to erect the scaffold and begin to scrape off the popcorny texture on the ceiling. Not looking forward to that project at all!

Until then at least I have more room to walk, can do zumba and yoga and play Wii games without nearly killing myself and the dogs have space to get out their energy without couch surfing.

Bathroom Before

Aside from painting and a free shower head from my utility provider, I haven’t done much in the way of changes to my master bathroom. Sure I updated the mirror and replaced the towel bars this summer but there is so much more I want to tackle in this room.

Let’s look at the bathroom “before” aka how it looks today.

The shower stall is small but efficient. While the walls are fine, I’d love to replace the floor which is stained and hard to clean. The shower door also looks perpetually dirty, I’d almost rather remove it completely and hang a shower curtain as inspired by Young House Love.

The majority of the room is dominated by the cabinet here with sink.

While it’s… nice, there are a few problems. First, the sink. In this close up shot you can see there are stress fractures in the bowl and since it’s one seamless piece I’m worried one day something will cause the whole thing to fall apart.

It does provide some good storage since I use these great baskets I picked up thrifting to hold towels and hair dryers and there are also two drawers which stay pretty organized (i.e. not crammed with stuff)

The counter top also extends up in a weird back splash piece and across the toilet:

Which is a little weird. I do need to replace this toilet and so far found a new bowl for $12 (Mom picked them up at a going out of business sale so we just need new tanks) and when we do the plumbing I’d like to replace the whole sink/cabinet thingy.

I would love to create more space and open shelving with a simple cabinet or pedestal sink. Like these:

This one is probably closest to my color scheme and I also like the bead board. Not crazy about the floors though:

I might even consider a piece with built in storage like this one:

One of the reasons I’m okay with sacrificing my cabinet storage in the existing piece is that the built in cabinet has so much room to spare.

So if needed I can revamp this space to work better. Or leave the baskets of towels out on a shelf.

By creating a smaller sink area I will have more open space. Ideally, for resale or renting out this property, I’d like the bathroom to be 100% accessible via wheelchair and taking out the large cabinet would give a lot more maneuverability.

Structurally, I don’t want to do projects out of order and then waste my time and money so I’ll decide on the new sink and cabinet before doing any floor work. It will be easy enough to paint the wall behind the existing cabinet but I may also do wainscoating like in this pic:

Definitely want to get started soonish but first I think I’ll be on the lookout for a new sink and a light for the room. If I get really inspired, I’ll look at flooring options and pricing.

All inspiration pics came from my Pinterest board where you can find the original source and details on colors/design/etc.

Bull in a China Cabinet

Not really, I just feel like I’m going to drop everything when I work around china so repainting my china cabinet and taking inventory of my nicer dishes makes me nervous. Once I realized how much some of these pieces were worth I was even more nervous (see below)!

A commenter asked about the china I collect and the set I want to sell and since I’m apt to pull up my blog on the iPad for reference when I’m out shopping I decided a post would be good. This is what you do when you have the short term memory of a gnat, like me.

This is the pattern I collect:
it’s called Diane and from Wade, here’s the mark:

Currently I have a full set of 24 so I’m not collecting any more of the basic pieces. For my own reference I have:

  • (37) Dinner plates
  • (27) Bread plates
  • (24) Dessert bowls
  • (27) Saucers
  • (30) Coffee cups (standard)

Plus, I have a few of the accessory pieces:

  • Salt & Pepper Shaker
  • Creamer

In searching eBay I found a lot of accessory pieces I do not have such as:

Sugar & Creamer set $25/both
Butter Dish $15
Gravy boat with plate $33/both
Round serving bowl $15
Oval Serving Bowl $15
Bowl with Lid (sold in set)

And while these are not needed (see 30 cups above) I think they’re awesome:

Irish Footed Coffee Mug $13/ea

I also have a set of 12 silver chargers since the rim of these dishes is silver.

Now for the set I’m selling:

It’s by Sango and called Julie, here’s a close up of the pattern:

It’s pretty but I prefer the bolder pattern of the Diane china so here’s what I’m selling (prices from eBay if selling piecemeal)

  • 8 cups (sell for $10 ea or $80 total)
  • 9 saucers (selling $1 ea for $9 total)
  • 10 dessert bowls ($6-$8/ea or $60-$80)
  • 8 salad bowls ($7-$10/ea or $56-$80)
  • 8 bread plates ($7-$8/ea or $56-$64)
  • 1 creamer ($20)
  • 1 sugar bowl with lid ($14-$24)
  • 1 large bowl ($26-$30)
  • 1 serving platter ($38)
  • 8 dinner plates ($26-$28/ea or $208-$224)

Which brings the total to $561-649 for the entire collection. Holy. Crap. Not bad for a set I paid maybe $60 for 4 years ago. Of course, I would have to sell each piece individually on eBay and pay the fees. So, if you’re an eBay seller – how much would you price this as a set? It’s realistically 48 pieces (a set of 8 – plate, cup, saucer, bread plate, dessert bowl, salad bowl) plus the sugar, creamer, serving platter, serving bowl and 2 extra desert bowls.

There are NO sets selling right now, maybe because demand is low but if I put the entire thing up for sale and it has some of the unique pieces and standard pieces like plates what would be a “good” price?

There’s also a lot of pieces selling here all and for a place setting (dinner plate, salad plate, bread and butter plate, cup and saucer) they sell for $45. Which is $360 and I would still have other pieces to sell.

Lots of Little Projects

I read a lot of design and decor themed blogs, mostly when I’m procrastinating going to the gym or can’t sleep. But the good news is that I’ve been inspired to get some smaller projects done around the house.

Here’s one that I just completed, creating a new and pretty soap pump for my bathroom:

I spray painted the entire thing with Oil Rubbed Bronze so it matches the door hardware, mirror and towel hooks/rods. Want to see how it started out? Ugly:

I think it was $1 but since the pump works and it’s a little ornate I thought it would be fun to paint. Spray paint is cheap, these suckers new are ridiculous – $10 or $15 empty and uglier than this one started out.

Like painting the frame for this new canvas I’m working on:

I’d like it to be glossy black but maybe add gray paint for the innermost canvas layer. Still deciding how it should look so I can sand it down and get started.

Project deux:

This dresser was a gift from my grandparents and came with a mirror that has never been attached (Dad claims it needs longer screws to secure). I’d like to confirm it’s not a family heirloom (pretty sure it’s not) and the sand and paint it something fun. Maybe a striped pattern for the kitchen or white and classy for the guest room.

The mirror is still in the garage and, from what I remember, it’s a unique shape. Depending on the color I choose for the paint I may also replace or paint the drawer pulls.

Third one:

I have the fabric that matches the curtains in my office to cover the ottoman. Need to find some tutorials for making buttons so this can be tufted and I’ll probably want to add a layer of fluff. Nixon likes to sleep next to my feet while I work so I’m not going to invest in the nicest fabric.

Striped fabric is on the windows, the patterned fabric became curtains for the closet. The green is still floating around somewhere.

Here’s the ottoman the fabric will be covering:

Want to know what Mom said when she saw this?

Mom: “The black thing fits perfectly in the hole.”

Me: “Mom…”

pause…. pause

Mom: “That what she said.”

Me: “I’m so proud.”

#4 This one is a bigger project but I need to repaint the china cabinet I finished earlier. Here’s what it looks like now:

except with the doors on. You can see on the bottom that I didn’t finish the white paint but also the wallpaper I put on the back panel is peeling pathetically. I’d like to make it two toned, maybe use the rice grain paint from the bathroom project to paint the back panel and bottom shelves.

The doors are also a little screwy so I need to sand and then repaint the edges.

I’m thinking of selling the second set of china that I bought back in 2007, it’s similar to the pattern I collect but honestly, just taking up room:

This is the pattern I collect and since I just picked up another set of 20 pieces for $15 and I’m running out of room it may be time to resell the other on eBay.

Canvas Prints

Recently I decided to try this tutorial for making my own canvas posted prints at home. Here’s my version, as promised.

I started with this picture which I printed last year and have always hated. Why the printer cut off the top of the lighthouse, I will never understand:

Sorry for the crooked shot, this was an old picture. You can also tell the frame for the lighthouse picture sucked, the black part was plastic overlay and it’s been peeled off on the top and bottom section. Trying to make it uniform was horrible, the plastic chipped the wood underneath and then split. I ended up scrapping the frame entirely.

Thus I was left with the photo and a photo canvas that I picked up in May on sale:

I started with using scrapbook paper to modge podge on the edges since the picture wouldn’t wrap around the corner. I found a sheet of textured paper and it only took half of a 12″ x 12″ sheet. The canvas was 16×20 fyi.

Once that was secure I quickly poured glossy modge podge on the canvas quickly and evenly, then on the back of the photo. I centered it on the canvas and topped with another thin layer of the matte modge podge.

After everything dried I hung it up on the wall and really like it. I might still do the paint smudging around the edges but I can’t decide if it should be in beige or black. Since this is my test canvas and I have a second one to play with there’s no pressure.

On this shot you can see the brush strokes of the modge podge, it goes left to right and is like a protective layer over the photo.

The next canvas is 20 x 24 and will cost $15 at Michael’s – the print will be about $9 from Costco. I already have the black glossy paint for the frame but I’ll need to sand and prep it before starting that project.

And I need to choose a picture, which is perhaps the hardest part of the process for me. It takes a long time to find the right picture from my travels as I want to use my own photos. Maybe I’ll take another look at my Scotland pics.


“Finished” Photo Wall

Well, I am 90% finished with the photo wall in my Master Bedroom so I want to share pictures.

I finally took the design on paper and rehung the photo frames on the wall. Most of these frames were found at thrift stores and repurposed from other rooms. I love having a variety of styles and size frames all in one hue.

Here’s the before:

I finished selecting and printing pictures at Costco and framed them. There are just two more to select. This one needs a new picture, it was from Freecycle so I can toss the print:

and this one is going to get a canvas and black paint finish:

Actually I found the canvas size I needed at Michael’s but wanted to wait until I got a coupon so I got some other paint and they gave me a 40% off coupon which will save me $10 on the canvas.

With the pictures I’ve selected and printed here’s the temporary after:

Ignore the mess of crap on the headboard, please thanks.

Most of these prints still need custom mats from Michael’s but I’ll be picking those up one at a time. The large print in the middle has a custom mat that I picked up for $16.

Here’s a close up of the print on the top left:

It’s the beach that I visited in Key Largo before going on my snorkeling adventure. I also added another tribute to my trip on the other side:

Overall, I really love the new wall and keep looking for those last two pictures to finish the wall. The large yellow open frame is going to get a canvas using a technique I found online. While the photo canvas I bought at Costco (below) was nice, these are too expensive to get on a larger scale:

Instead I can buy a blank canvas and use modge podge and scrapbook paper to create a photo canvas (with a print from Costco).

I tried it out on this picture:

I’ll put up a tutorial on how that turned out soon!