Building a cat shelter and a new dresser....

I don’t normally share “life hacks” but I just have to share this Kitty shelter. I hope the video tutorial stays up but just in case it doesn’t….basically you take a large storage tub, put a styrofoam cooler inside it…cut a little opening in the tub and cooler…”insulate” around the cooler with blankets (or insulation if you have it) and put a warm blanket in the cooler.

If you have followed along you know I am somewhat of a “cat person.” I have two indoor cats, Litty and Mr. Jinx, one indoor/outdoor cat, Ms. Kitty and then there is Finley. I truly believe Finley is autistic. He isn’t “mentally challenged” he just has “severe social anxiety.” He is terrified of everyone but me and now he will barely come to me. Occasionally I can entice him with food and get him close enough to snatch him up, but he pretty much avoids ALL human contact.

I have had him for 8 years. Before Cleo, he would come in the house but only appear after I was snuggled in bed…then he would get in bed with me. But when Cleo started sleeping with us, he went outside and will not come in the house. Last year when we had a week long deep freeze, I managed to grab him one day only because he was dang near frozen. I brought him in the house to warm him up but he was obviously terrified and spent the entire time hiding…as soon as he could bolt outside he was gone…and there he remains to this day.

Needless to say I worry about him constantly. I have no doubt he has found a cozy spot under the storage building to avoid the elements but I still worry.

When I saw this kitty shelter I immediately bought the stuff to make one for him.

It took a few day, but he eventually moved in and seems quite content in his new warm bed! I placed it in a spot I believe is sheltered from the cold wind and next to the dryer vent so the warm air can blow on it.

I insulated mine with actual insulation because that’s what I had on hand. I put my snuggie in for his bedding…I don’t wash it so it will retain it’s “smell.”

IF you can entice your kitty to come in the house when it is super cold, that is always best. If not, this is a perfect “hack” for an outdoor kitty or stray kitties.

MORE DRESSER MAKEOVERS….

I spent most of last week working on a few dressers. I have finished those up but now I have another batch to start on. It is super tough to find good days to paint outside during the winter months. Dang, I need a heated shop!

This was a teaser I posted on Instagram…

They all turned out super cute but each got a different treatment. So over the next few weeks I will share each one and explain what I had to do to each to bring them back to life!

In the meantime I want to share one that has been lurking in my garage since summer.

When I bought it, it was a nasty mess….

Someone had “stained” it and changed out the hardware. Eck! I think I remember that it had a few wonky drawers. No biggy but AGAIN, make sure you make any repairs BEFORE you make it pretty!

I removed all the hardware and gave it the old KSTP treatment (Kilz, sand, tack, paint)

New hardware….

Again, I’m stuck on white…blah. This weekend we took four dressers into 410 Vintage and ALL of them were white! B.O.R.I.N.G.

I have vowed to use a little color on the dressers I am working on right now!

Stay tuned!


My "SmileDirectClub" journey...


These are my precious baby girls Christmas morning! I am posting this picture first because some sites automatically snag the first picture in a post…you will see in a minute why I DO NOT want the photos with this post to pop up!

Sooooo….I hesitate to even share this journey for several reasons.

First, I really dislike “endorsing” any product. Not all products work well for everyone. The ortho aligners from SmileDirectClub have both glowing and horrendous reviews. Fortunately for me, my review would be glowing. But obviously that is not the case for everyone and I would hate to recommend this process and someone have a bad outcome. So I am NOT endorsing…I am just sharing MY experience and thoughts on the process! As always, do your own research and do what is best for YOU!

Second, the before and after photos are super nasty! There is NO camera setting or froo-froo staging that is gonna make a close up of 54 year old teeth pretty. I am going to share the photos I had to take of my teeth “before” and then the “after”….and let me tell ya they are NOT pretty! But they do show the progress I made with this system.

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER

(Told you they were nasty!)

All four of my kids needed braces. Since there is 16 years between the oldest and youngest, I think I figured one time that I paid monthly for orthodontic care for almost 20 years. TWENTY YEARS!!! And over $22,000 when you figure they averaged about $5500 a piece.

After my youngest finished her set, I talked to our orthodontist about getting braces myself…my teeth weren’t horrible, but the front top and bottom teeth were kind of crocked and it seems the older I get, the worse they get. At the time he suggested using Invisalign and the cost would be around $5000.

One thing about me I probably should share…I am not a vain person. I have no problem going out in public without makeup. While I use to color my hair and get a mani/pedi regularly, these days my roots could serve as a landing strip and right this minute my two big toenails are the only ones that have a smidge of summer pedi polish left. As far as clothes and shoes…lets just say I still have (and wear) sweatshirts and shoes from 15+ years ago.

I care about my appearance…when necessary, I can dress with the best. I bathe and groom regularly. I do try to make an effort to get my hair done just in case I need to do something other than throw it in a pony tail!

I’m just not going to spend good money on something that just really isn’t necessary. Spending $5000 to straighten a few kinda/sorta/just-a-tad crooked teeth just seemed kinda silly.

But in all honesty, the top front teeth were getting crookeder by the year and their protrusion was really beginning to bug me. My front bottom teeth have always been a little wonky and I just lived with it.

After losing my first 25 pounds (STILL working on that last ten), I was feeling pretty good about myself. I had to buy new bras (20 of the 25 seemed to come out of my boobs). I had to buy new jeans and tops. Brian and I bought bikes and began riding regularly.

So I was feeling pretty sassy…but I really hated my snaggle tooth smile.

That’s when I stumbled across SmileDirectClub…an invisible aligner system that cost WAY less than traditional braces or Invisalign. Rather than go into all the specifics about the product and process, I have provided a link to their site. Again, not endorsing, just sharing.

My process has taken 5 months…I started in August and finished the aligners and started wearing my retainer this week…I will wear the retainer day and night for two weeks and then only at night. I am a HORRIBLE tooth grinder and I think wearing the aligners and retainer at night has actually helped.

I still have two wonky bottom teeth…both have been “wonky” my whole life so I suspect they are tough nuts to move. I have submitted pictures and SmileDirect has agreed to continue the alignment process for the bottom teeth. They guarantee to continue to work with you (at no charge) if you aren’t satisfied. Truthfully I am THRILLED with the outcome, but if I am going to go through this process I might as well take advantage of their guarantee and get those two teeth lined up properly!

So what is my take-away for this process…

1) Be realistic about your teeth. If you have super whacked out teeth or a “bad bite”, I suggest consulting with an orthodontist. My molars were fine and my bite was fine…I just needed to straighten/align- my front teeth…pretty much the top and lower front 8. Remember, an orthodontist is not going to like these things because they take away their business. SmileDirect is going to tell you they can fix your smile because they want your business. So be realistic…do you have a “bite issue”…are your teeth SUPER crooked and/or rotated? If so, I would suggest going the traditional route with an orthodontist. This system is designed for “mild to moderate alignment.”

2) Have good dental health! Teeth, gums, bone structure. I am vigilant about going to the dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups. I get x-rays every year. I brush my teeth 3 times a day and floss every day. I would never recommend this process for someone who isn’t vigilant about their oral health. One of the biggest concerns about these systems that are not monitored by an orthodontist on a regular basis is the potential for bone and gum issues. I review my bone/gum/teeth health every six months with my dentist so I felt confident that I wouldn’t have issues…and I had a scheduled appointment with her during this process and we looked closely at the process together.

Before you start any orthodontic system (supervised or otherwise) make sure you have ALL recommended dental work done…removal of wisdom teeth, any needed crowns or fillings….anything your dentist has suggested, make sure you have it taken care of before you start any ortho work!

3) If you aren’t a discipline person, do not go this route. Having to wear an aligner 22 hours a day is a booger. You can NOT drink anything but water while the aligners are in. Fortunately not a problem for me. But if you are the kind of person who has a coke or tea in your hand all day, you will have a problem! Also, you MUST brush your teeth after you eat or drink anything…so if you snack throughout the day or have a problem with brushing your teeth in a restaurant bathroom, you are going to have issues.

I’ll be honest…taking these things out of your mouth is like taking off your bra after a long day!!!! You know that feeling girls! And it is tempting to want to leave them out and just let your teeth breath!

YOU CAN NOT!!! You have to wear them 22 hours a day for them to affectively work. For me, seeing the weekly progress was all I needed to keep me in line…but trust me when I say there were times when wearing them was just a royal PITA!

4) They may aid in a weight loss journey. Now, I can honestly say that has not been the case for me…I lost my first 25 lbs by August, and since I haven’t really been vigilant the last 4 months, I haven’t lost that last 8-10 lbs….and wearing these didn’t keep me from eating a few cookies after dinner or bacon with my eggs! And of course they have NO bearing on portion control.

But it is a pain to have to take out your aligners and then brush your teeth for a hand full of chips. And again, you won’t be sucking on a big gulp of coke or a Yeti full of sweet tea all day.

For me, seeing the change in my smile had a big impact on my overall self-confidence. That in turn could lead to wanting to eat healthier.

5) No pain, no gain. So if you are a big baby and can’t handle a little discomfort, don’t bother! There was some discomfort and tenderness in my teeth for the first few days after changing the aligners each week. Also, I learned to properly prep my aligners before I ever put them in by using a finger nail file and buffer to file and buff the edges of the aligners to avoid sore or raw spots inside my mouth. I did this EVERY time just to avoid any problems.

I also put new aligners in at night…they tend to be super tight when you first put them in and somewhat uncomfortable…sleeping through the first 8 hours of that was kinda nice.

I also learned to embrace the discomfort and tenderness in my teeth…that meant the aligners where moving those crooked little suckers and progress was being made!!!

SmileDirectClub has a referral system… feel free to use this referral link if you decide to go this route. I think you get some kind of discount and I get a “referral fee.” WIN-WIN!!!

Again, and I can not stress this enough, do your own research!! This has been a positive experience for me, but I can see where some might not benefit from or be successful with this system.

As always, you do what works best for you!

Styling a master bedroom....

It is no secret I have struggled to “restyle” my master bedroom for years. Truth is, it’s not that I struggled to “restyle” it…I struggled to give it any style at all!.

If you follow the links you can see the transformation over the years!

It started with my grotesquely expensive, heavy, dark and somewhat dated bedroom furniture I bought in 2001!

I don’t know why it took me so long to FINALLY paint it, but when I did it made a huge difference!

The next big change was the flooring…we finally installed hand scraped laminate flooring in both the bedroom and adjoining office.

I love this flooring but after living with it for a few years I will make one observation…avoid dark flooring if at all possible. It is beautiful but shows EVERYTHING…not a good thing if you have a big yellow dog who sheds…or kids with dirty feet! But this was the last room with carpet and I can not tell you how happy I am to have NO carpet in this house!

Next up, changing out the chairs.

LOVE them! But they were a bit on the “grey” side and the walls were more on the “cream” side…so….

Paint…finally got around to doing that.

At one point I even changed out the bed frame….

It had a “distressed” treatment and if you know me that is NOT my thing…but I kinda liked the look for a time.

All of the color choices stemmed from the one color inspiration I found on Pinterest….

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It originated on designseeds.com. This site is a source of endless inspiration and in my opinion it is one of the first sites you should visit when designing a room. If you have an element you HAVE to decorate around it will help you find colors that will enhance and even mask it....like that ugly brown couch or the wing back chair your mom gave you. 

You can see as I moved forward with each new element, I managed to work in these colors…on the walls, rugs, pillows, chairs, etc.

Eventually we transitioned to a king size mattress…so the queen bed frame no longer worked. I searched high and low for one I would love and finally settled on a simple frame.

I have said time and again…go “neutral” with the big ticket items. Use pillows, throws, rugs, art, and accent furniture to make your “design statement.”

On one of my Pinterest email feeds there was a link to the “Top 10 Fixer Upper Bedrooms.” The bedrooms featured are all “Fixer Upper” bedrooms. I love to look at sites like this because they give me inspiration.

This bed is very similar to mine yet the whole room looks SO much more cozy and inviting.

So why doesn’t my space look as cozy and inviting as this space?

I bet you look at blogs and Pinterest and see all the amazingly styled and perfect spaces…bedrooms, mud rooms, laundry rooms, kitchens…and you just know yours could never be as glam because, well, you live in your house…and so do your kids and animals and spouse…and there is NO WAY you could keep your space looking as dreamy and beautiful.

All the beds on Pinterest and on the blogs are beautifully staged and styled with the pillows, throws and blankets. Like no one every sleeps on it…no baby pees on it…no dog sheds on it…

I GET IT!!!

My room isn’t staged for photos…it is “real life.”

I have a real mental block when it comes to wall decor in my room. Seriously…if you followed the links and looked at the dates you may notice I have been trying to style this room for almost 5 years. To date, I have hung one round mirror…

a canvas…

and two other mirrors….

I absolutely LOVE the 4 prints above the bed in the inspiration photo.

It has only taken me 18 years to find 3 square matted frames I like.

I did not like the artwork in the frames but I love the frames and the “3-D” matting. My original plan was to replace the prints with something “light and airy.” Maybe botanicals or black and whites. But I decided to pick out a few photos from our trips to Colorado…photos that have meaning….places we love!

If you have been around long enough you know I make my bed every day. I firmly believe that making your bed sets a positive tone for the rest of your day (and there is the whole “I might die and people will think I am a bum if my bed is unmade!” thing.) Since I might not be inclined to make my bed every day if it takes more than 60 seconds, I keep my bedding super simple…no froo-froo! Sheet, comforter, top quilt, throw for the animals (who never sleep on it) The dogs and cats sleep on the bed and pillows and yes, they all shed. So I need bleachable and washable bedding. I sleep with 4 pillows so there really is no time or room for fancy designer pillows and shams.

I brought my throw pillows down from the guest room and “staged” the bed…it looks AWESOME…but again, not happening…just too much froo-froo!

I really thought the guest room throw pillows would be the wrong color…but I like them and it has convinced me that I may have too much of the “frosted berry” in the room. I was going for a “pop” of color, but honestly, I think there is too much “pop.”

I really need new lamps…mine are Hobby Lobby lamps from 18 years ago that got a little paint treatment years ago. I couldn’t find lamps I love but I did find lamp shades I like better…unfortunately they aren’t “tall” enough…back they go!

I think big area rugs under the bed make a huge statement…I don’t have that. I went with two scatter rugs on each side of the bed. I did that primarily because this room has two distinct areas…the sitting space and the bed space. I threw down the rug Brian had in his living room and it works pretty well in the “sitting” space. I think maybe if I want to “cozy” up the entire space and make if feel a tad more cohesive I could use two identical rugs in the spaces. But again, serious mental block on what to use so I just live with what I have.

But again, the scatter rugs are the “frosted berry” color and now I’m kinda not liking that…that may be something I change in short order!

The paddle fans were pretty awesome (and expensive) when I hung them 18 years ago. Now they are kind of “meh.” I love the chandelier style lights in the inspiration room but honestly I HAVE to have a paddle fan above my bed…I just can’t be comfortable with out a little air movement. Since I have recess lighting I could probably change these out to a less “in your face” fan.

Window dressings! One of the things I noticed about all the “inspiration rooms” are the beautiful window dressings. Almost all have beautiful, full curtains. Truth is, I really don’t like curtains. Don’t know why. I only have curtains in the front window because sometimes I need to close them to block out the hot sun…but since I live at the end of a cul-de-sac I really don’t need them for privacy. And truth be told, the ones I have are too short…I believe I mentioned that here and yes, I have managed to ignore them for well over a year.

Truthfully I have been waiting on Candice Olsen or Joanna Gaines to come knocking on my door but since they have not, I guess I will have to keep trudging along in this space.

What is my point to this rambling post?

Life…life happens in our homes and while we would love to live in the “inspiration rooms” on blogs and Pinterest, we live in the “real world.” We have to style our spaces to fit our life styles and needs, in the time and budget we have available. We have to accept the fact that sometimes it can take years (or decades) to make a space feel “cozy and inviting”…and that is okay.

Yes, look to the blogs and Pinterest for inspiration…but don’t get frustrated when your space doesn’t look or feel like the inspiration photo after a weekend of hard work or a few trips to the home interior store.

I have been working on this space for 18 years and I still have a lot I want to do!

How do you eat an elephant…one bite at a time…how do you style a bedroom…one element at a time!

Painted kitchen cabinets and a new entry...

When Matt bought his house over a year ago I promised to share the projects. One year later, I am finally getting around to keeping that promise!

As I mentioned in earlier posts, Matt first had to find his inspiration and make a plan.

His first major project was the entry makeover. My entry makeover was obviously his inspiration but his entry felt SUPER tiny compared to mine.

These aren’t the best before pictures but you can see there is a header across the top of the opening between the living room and the “entry”…so the space felt really tight and cramped…wood flooring (again, a no-no in an entry IMO)…popcorn ceilings.

The “plan” was to remove the closet and header to open up the space, tile the floor and paint the door. Simple!

Before you remove a closet, make sure you have a plan in place for the things you would otherwise store in that space. In Matt’s case, he’s a single guy with two spare bedrooms and closets, a large master bedroom closet and a nice hall pantry. He had plenty of storage space for coats and such…getting rid of the entry closet was not a big deal.

UNTIIIIIL…you start hacking into walls and removing headers that are framed with aluminum studs instead of wood. Interesting to say the least and somewhat of a challenge for a “traditional” builder such as myself.

Lots of sheetrock repair, black paint on the front door that Matt is not real fond of but is living with for the time being, new trim, new tile, new paint. Eventually I think he will replace the light fixture…but it does the job for now.

Here you can see how the entry opens into the living room…before there was a “header” that dropped down 12” and really closed that space in…removing that header not only opened up the entry but it now matches the opening into the hallway that leads to the bedrooms on the other side of the living room.

Matt built the little bench! I found the beautiful metal mirror on clearance at a home interior store.

The fireplace was pretty “dated”…he painted it last year ….

…and we replaced the dated 8x8 beige tile with the same tile we used in the entry. MUUUUCH better!

The very first thing we did before he moved in was built open shelving in the kitchen. We used the “hidden bracket” method I shared here.

His kitchen cabinets were old, nasty oak and he knew he eventually wanted to paint them…but time and finances dictated he wait…the open shelving was a pretty easy and inexpensive way to give the kitchen a tiny update. Since he had his inspiration and had a plan, he knew what colors he wanted to eventually paint the kitchen cabinets…so he knew what color he wanted to paint the shelving.

We simply removed the cabinet to the right of the sink and installed 3 shelves. The cabinet we removed didn’t go to waste…he hung it in the garage above his work bench!

Painted cabinets…this summer he was finally able to complete this part of the plan.

The kitchen before…

The kitchen after…

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He hired the actual “painting” part but he did all the prep work himself. He changed out the hinges from nasty ole’ brass looking things to nice new satin nickel hinges.

He also changed out four upper cabinet doors and put reeded glass in them…

The shelves inside the cabinets were old and “sagging” so we built new shelves since you could see them through the glass.

I would like to think I was the inspiration behind that change since I am a tad partial to reed glass cabinet doors!

One element of his original plan was to change out the tile countertops to a solid surface like quartz or granite. Honestly, once the cabinets were painted neither of us found the tops to be nearly as offensive so that part of the plan got bumped to the bottom of the list. It will happen someday, but it is no longer a top priority!

This kitchen is a relatively small space…kind of a “shotgun” or “galley” kitchen if you will…brightening it up with paint and installing the glass front doors and the open shelving made a HUGE difference!

The next big project on his list is his master bathroom. He wants to remove the tub/shower insert and build a walk in shower similar to mine.

Last week I went to an auction and I was able to purchase enough 12x24 floor tile and subway tile for pennies on the dollar!!! He’s been researching the best way to build a shower pan and of course we are experts at demo! So this little project could commence any day!

In the meantime he is busy being a home owner…mowing and raking the yard, mundane chores and dealing with all the grief after a tree falls on your house during a storm! Yep, it even damaged his brand new storage building he is so proud of!

Such is the life of a home owner!

Next week is Christmas and I may take a few weeks off since the whole family will be here! I hope you and yours have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Modifying a Dillingham MCM dresser....

So often I buy mid century pieces fully intending to clean them up and sell them. But then, well, I don’t. Inevitably I fall in love with them or one of my kids does (just search mid century on this site…you will see)

Such was the case with this mid century walnut Dillingham dresser….

It did have a few boo-boos…a broken corner piece I was able to fix with a little wood glue…

A tiny bit of chipped veneer I decided to ignore…

And of course the finish was a little worn and tired looking and needed some freshening. First I tried a little Restor-a-finish….

You can kind of see the difference…the right side has been wiped down with Restor-a-finish.

It helped a tad but in the end I scrubbed it down with mineral spirits and steel wool and applied 2 coats of tung oil finish…brightened it right up and blended all the scratches and wear…after all it is a 50+ year old piece…it’s gonna have a few nicks and dings. But again, nothing terribly glaring.

Even though the issues were relatively minor, I hesitated to sell it. I considered painting the sides to disguise the biggest issue…the broken corner.

Enter my kid! Matt absolutely LOVED it and wanted it for an entertainment cabinet!

The dark walnut matches his vintage Lane tables perfectly and like me he has a real affinity for MCM pieces.

So I went to work modifying it for his needs..specifically he needs a place for his turn table.

(Side note…I get tickled at the newest generation of vinyl lovers. People my age remember how thrilled we were to get away from bulky old record players and vinyl records that scratched and skipped. Cassette tapes and walkmans and boom boxes…life changing! Now the younger generation have circled back around to “vinyl” and think they have discovered the greatest thing since sliced bread…HA!!! See, if you live long enough, it all comes back in style!)

So…how to modify this dresser without changing it too much.

I decided to make the bottom two drawers one deep drawer. That entailed removing the face front of the middle drawer and attaching it to the black face frame and bottom drawer…creating what appeared to be two separate drawers…but is actually just one deep drawer.

Confusing I know…let me see if I can show you what I mean in pictures.

First I had to cut the face frame in half to detach it from the cabinet.

Since it is a laminate material, I knew I needed to tape it first to keep it from “splintering.” ALWAYS tape laminate before you cut it and draw your cut mark on the tape!

I could have used a skill saw with a trim blade to make the cut. But I knew a skill saw wouldn’t work to cut the little shelf inside that separated the two drawer spaces. So, darn, I had to buy a new tool…I hate that when that happens! (NOT!)

I have a small Dremel that has similar functions but this little guy is pretty heavy duty…and it worked like a charm!

Next I used my Kreg jig and glue to attach 1x2 pieces of oak to both edges of the face frame. The drawer fronts and face frame only over lapped by about 1/8”…attaching the oak allowed me to secure the face frame to the drawer fronts with glue and screws.

We used a hole saw to cut a hole in the back of the cabinet to feed electric wires through.

That was pretty much all the modification this dresser needed to turn it into the perfect entertainment cabinet!

In the photos you get a peak of a few of the changes Matt has made to his house since he bought it a year ago…the painted fireplace I shared here and the new tile I haven’t shared yet.

I have promised for A YEAR to share a few of the projects he has completed on his house…he opened up the entry, painted his kitchen cabinets and installed glass cabinet doors, built open shelving in his kitchen and laid new tile in the entry and around the fireplace. He has even built a little storage shed! I am so proud of his “projecting” so while I was there taking pictures of his new entertainment cabinet, I snapped a few of his entry and kitchen and I PROMISE to share those next week.



Traditional Christmas!

My Christmas decor changes so little from year to year I hesitate to even share. (search Christmas on this site…you’ll see what I mean!)

But every year I add one tiny element.

If you follow along you know that Brian and I travel to Colorado every year in the fall. We do our annual guided fishing trip and enjoy the fall Aspens. And every year we take a few hours to walk around Georgetown. A precious little mining town just off I-70.

Every year I try to find something a little Christmasy. It is a “tradition” I started years ago.

This year I picked up this little troll.

Too cute. I guess this year Santa trolls are the “in” thing. Again I rarely go all out with the latest “fad” but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to pick up one little piece to add to my “Colorado collection.”

This year as I set out my little collection it dawned on me that I have no idea what year I bought what. So this year I started writing on the underside of each piece the year I purchased them. Not important now but maybe 50 years from now it will mean something to someone.

Here are just a few pieces I have picked up over the years….

The snow birds….

I shared here the realization that I have an obsession with little birds.

The birch Santa…

I think Birch trees are the closest thing we “low landers” can get to an Aspen…I even bought a birch candle stick when I changed out the mantel decor this year…

This little guy….the older I get the less I want to hang and fluff so I love anything I can just tuck in a corner…

I didn’t actually buy this little guy…we stayed in a condo in Frisco and this was a little gift from the owners…just precious! How did they know?!

A “tradition” has to start sometime by someone! Don’t be afraid to start your own…time flies and before you know it your great-grandchildren will be reminiscing about years past at Grammy’s and how she always had Lord ? displayed in her kitchen…

The matching pajamas she gifted every Christmas eve and how she made everyone shower and primp Christmas morning for family pictures before they could open presents…

The 9’ tree adorned with priceless ornaments given to their grandparents by their great-great grandmother!

Sticking with “traditions” is the way to go for so many reasons…

1) It cuts down on the cost of the holiday. Decorating for any holiday can be expensive…especially if you change your decor every year trying to keep up with the latest “fads.”

Years ago I contemplated changing out the colors in these bannister wreaths to blue and silver…

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My daughter promptly reminded me that “gold and red” are traditional colors…she was right. I would have regretted spending a lot of money just to follow the “in” thing that year.
I ended up making a simple Christmas box with blue and silver and that pretty much fulfilled my desire to jump on the blue and silver decorwagon…

2) Your kids and grandkids won’t remember every gift you gave them but they will never forget the “traditions.” Whether it is the Christmas pajamas, a favorite dessert, the priceless ornaments. They don’t forget traditions…

3) While my “same-ole-same ole” holiday decor may seem a tad boring, decorating for the holiday is super simple since I pretty much know where everything goes and how everything is decorated, year to year. Little changes. It cuts down on the stress of holiday. I may pick up a few pillows or a knick-knack here and there if something strikes my fancy but most of it stays the same…i.e. easy and stress free.

This year I picked up a few “grey” holiday pillows for the couch…

But the guest bath is the “same-ole-same-ole.” I store a few trinkets under the vanity and pull it out…a festive candle, a little snowman, holiday hand towels, a holiday soap dispenser and a festive wreath I hang over the boxwood wreath. It takes me all of 2 minutes to “decorate” the guest bath.

4)Decorating for Christmas falls on the same day every year…without fail. The Friday after Thanksgiving. We fill the house with Christmas music, Brian heads to the storage building to pick up boxes while I take down all the fall decorations, and all day Friday and most of Saturday is spent decking the halls…and walls…and shelves. There is never a question of when we will find time to get ready for the holiday. Again, I may pick up a little something here and there throughout the season…but the bulk of it gets done that weekend.

Sticking with “traditional decor” (red, gold, green, silver) makes it easy to blend new with old if I see something that strikes my fancy!

5) I have no doubt that if the time comes when I can’t decorate my home myself, SOMEONE could step in and do it for me. Since little changes, all my kids know exactly how mom likes her mantle, the tree and her kitchen decorated. HOPEFULLY one of them will step up to the plate and take over the job if I am unable. Morbid? Maybe…but such is life…the day will come.

Keep the holiday decor simple and stick primarily with “traditional” vs. “the latest fad.”

These are my tips for enjoying this amazing season!

Be grateful....

Last year I shared the importance of “choosing to be happy” and how focusing on the positives and gratitude are an important element to being happy.

Still one of my favorite posts, and I actually reread it often just to remind myself of the importance of staying focused on the positives in my life and why I should always be grateful…for everything!

This past weekend Brian and I had a list of mundane chores we needed to do around the house. Clean the dryer vent (super important after THIS fiasco!), throw out some old tile in attic and put the new tile up there, rake and bag leaves and pine needles and clean out the flower pots, scrub the grout in the dining room and kitchen, repair some trim on the garden shed, and charge the battery on the riding lawn mower (still wouldn’t start…curses!)

We have our weekly chores…stripping beds, vacuuming, dusting, deep cleaning the kitchen and baths…stuff we do every week together…but this was “extra” stuff that we have kind of been putting off. Ugh!

So how do I stay positive and happy when I have a laundry list of “chores” to accomplish and actually ENJOY the mundane chores?

I focus on the positives!

For the first day in weeks the temps were in the upper 60s…beautiful day to be outside!

I am thankful I have a new walk in shower I love so I have a bunch of spare tile that needs to go in the attic.

I am thankful I have beautiful mature trees and a yard I love, and I live in a part of the country that has four seasons…so yes, I have to rake leaves and pine needles a few times a year.

I am thankful I have modern appliances that make my life easier IF I give them proper attention on occasion.

I am thankful I have a home I love that deserves my time and attention in return!

I am thankful I have a great partner to give me a helping hand when I need it!

Yes, I could focus on what I DON’T have…but in order to be happy in this life you have to stay focused on what you DO have. Find the positive in every little thing and be grateful!

I wish I had spent more time in my life focusing on the positives. Sometimes we get so mired down in the “don’ts” we fail to focus on the “dos” …the positives…the things we SHOULD be grateful for!

This is a great week to celebrate the things in our life (family, friends, home, food, shelter) we DO have…the things we should be grateful for…the things that, while they can easily be seen as a negative at times, we have to learn to “flip the switch” and focus on the positive….something to be grateful for!

In return you may just find a tiny bit of happiness creeping in.

Grab ahold of that…focus on it.

When you are tempted to see something as a pain in the rear, look for reasons why it is actually something wonderful and something you can be grateful for!

You might just find those “mundane chores” to be just a little bit more enjoyable!

I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving…a positive, grateful, HAPPY Thanksgiving!


The grey couch....

If you remember, I had a booger of a time with my living room couch purchase. I ended up purchasing the “Michael” by Younger Furniture.

A year later, I love it!

One of my biggest concerns was the fact that it is grey. I wasn’t sure at the time if I was really going to like having a “grey” couch. Not grey-grey, but grey enough that I was afraid it would be dull or too trendy…or just “too.”

I felt at the time I was breaking my cardinal rule of going “trendy” on a big ticket purchase.

Truth is, it is a chameleon…it pretty much changes with whatever I throw at it. When I first got it, I had my Christmas decor up…and it looked great.

After the holidays I threw my teal and floral pillows and a teal throw on it and it looked just as awesome. (No photo…wow I need to take more pictures!)

Fall…oranges, yellows, greens, browns…wasn’t sure it was going to cut it.

But it did!

I love that it can take any color I throw at it! After the holidays I am considering transitioning to another color pallet in the living room…maybe a navy blue or olivey green. Don’t know yet but I know that whatever I do, the couch will not be a factor!

(You can see the transformations of grandmother’s chair here, the Drexel coffee table here, the club chair and ottoman here, the round walnut table here, and the large mirror over the couch here. )

And it really did turn out to be quite comfy.

Which brings me to the point I have often made…on big ticket purchases, stay neutral. I love the deep green and vibrant blue velvet couches. Beautiful! And if you KNOW you will love that couch for years to come, I say go for it. But if you just aren’t certain or you know you will want to regularly change up the look of your decor, stay neutral on the “big ticket” items and let your pillows, accent chairs, rugs, wall decor, throws, etc dictate the decor. Those elements can be easily and relatively inexpensively changed to make a big impact on the feel and look of a room!


Just another little makeover....

You are probably asking yourself “WHY?”

Why would she even mess with something so hideous?

Because I knew I could make them pretty…that’s why!!!

Truthfully these pieces didn’t have a lot going for them…but what drew me to them was the really cool hardware and they are pretty sturdy. Ugly, but sturdy!

The hardware is obviously “reproduction”…made to look like the hardware of years gone by.

They aren’t REAL flush mount ring pulls, but they are real brass so I knew with a little scrubbing, they would shine right up!

The top…fake leather…ewww!

But it was in good shape!

The front of the cabinet and drawers were solid wood but the sides were particle board…and it had some minor “water issues.” Some of the particle board had started chipping and “bubbling.”

Rather than use wood filler I decided to add a little trim piece to the bottom. Glue and trim nails…simple!

The trim covered the chipped areas and beefed up the base a tad. The minor “bubbling” on the particle board sanded smooth.

The bottom of the drawers had that “fake print” thing going on but they were in great condition. Ugly, but solid and sturdy.

I decided to disguise the “cheaponess” with paint.

First I removed all the hardware and spend a few hours scrubbing it. Again, I have no deep dark secrets for easily removing years of tarnish on brass. SOS pad and brass cleaner…and a lot of elbow grease!

I Kilzed the entire dresser…even inside the drawers.

Sanded everything smooth.

Tack cloth…always!!!!

I painted the inside and sides of the drawers with a sample pot of latex navy blue paint. (I recommend priming and painting the inside of drawers if they are “cheapos” or if you can’t remove offensive smells with a good cleaning and vinegar!)

Again, I am kind of obsessed with the white lacquer finishes especially with bright brass hardware.

The repaired sides painted beautifully!

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Told you I could make them pretty!

Remember the MCM chest of drawers I featured here? I finally got the brass cone hardware from China…worth the wait!

Today I muse...about smoking...

I have several DIY projects lined up to share but I decided I want to “muse.”

Or rather lecture.

Let’s just say I want to share a “journey.”

I hesitate to say “I WAS a smoker.” Truth be told, I still am a smoker…I just CHOOSE not to smoke now.

Six years ago I stopped smoking. I smoked for most of my adult life. I can still remember my very first cigarette. I was 20…it was a Virginia Slim menthol…on a road trip…with a friend who smoked.

Notice I did not say “I quit smoking.” To me, that would imply I will not do it again. I can’t make that promise.

I have “quit” many times. Many times for years at a time. I tried gum, mints, hypnosis, drugs, cold turkey. I quit when I was pregnant. Every time I would quit I would go out and make a big ticket purchase…like new furniture or a new car. After all, smoking is an expensive habit and if you “quit” smoking you have all that extra money to spend on other things!

Inevitably I would end up with a car payment AND the cost of a carton of cigarettes every week!

I can honestly say this is the longest I have ever gone without smoking. But it is a daily CHOICE I make. The physical addiction is LONG gone, but the psychological craving for a cigarette still blindsides me on occasion.

A therapist once told me that smoking was one of the hardest things for a woman to give up because we use it as a “reward.” Kids down for a nap, smoke a cigarette…mopped the kitchen floor, smoke a cigarette… laundry all washed, folded and put away, smoke a cigarette.

And you know what…he was right. When I looked at my “pattern” of smoking it was pretty predictable.

I see the effects of smoking almost daily in my work. I own apartments and every time I have to clean and repair an apartment a smoker lived in I have to Kilz the walls and ceilings before I paint.

This is what “white” walls (seriously, they were WHITE!!!) look like after a smoker lived in this unit for about a year…you can see where I have rolled white Kilz….the “yellow” is pure nicotine on once white walls and ceilings. (This is AFTER we had wiped the walls and ceilings with ammonia water!)

I have found that oil based Kilz is the ONLY thing that will seal nicotine (and water stains!) so it does not bleed through the paint.

Don’t even get me started on the SMELL!!!! Kilz is some nasty smelling stuff but stale cigarette smoke is just fricking gross!

You don’t smoke inside you say? Good for you…and your spouse…and your kids…and your pets!

But what about YOUR insides…if one year of smoking inside can do this to a wall, what is it doing to your lungs?

For me, I developed a chronic cough and congestion and honestly I was pretty low energy.

Not to mention the other downsides to smoking. It stinks…sorry but all the perfume and breath mints in the world can’t cover the smell of cigarette smoke!

It RULES your life….seriously, you have to plan every activity around cigarettes…when you go out to eat, when you fly, when you go on a long drive, when you go to the movies, when you go to a play, when you go to a sporting event. When and where you can get your nicotine fix completely controls every activity.

When I was traveling, I only booked layovers in airports that had smoking lounges…seriously! And OMG if my flight was over 2 hours long!!!!

Same with long car rides…it is one thing to stop every 4 hours to stretch and pee…but to have to stop every 2-3 hours to smoke a cigarette was a fricking nightmare!!!!

So…how have I managed to not smoke for the last six years you ask?

I want to say I am NOT an “addiction specialist.” Like my weight loss journey I can only share my experience…what I did and what has, to date worked for me!

What I DID NOT do? I didn’t set “a day to stop,” I didn’t tell my friends and family I wasn’t going to smoke anymore, I didn’t have some big “ripping the pack up” ceremony, I didn’t toss all my lighters….

First, I “bad talked” the cigarettes. Before I ever “stopped,” I made myself really focus on all the negatives of the nasty habit…you make me stink, you make me feel bad physically, you made me leave the restaurant early, you made me freeze to death at half time or during the commercials, you made me miss my son’s touchdown pass/homerun/last minute game winning shot, you make it hard to afford groceries/a new couch/a vacation, you make me dry clean my sweaters every time I wear them!

Notice I said “you” rather than “it.” See what I did there?

Just like focusing on “the positives” in your life can change your attitude for the better, focusing on the negative can change your attitude about smoking.

It is no longer just something you do, it is a “baaaaad” thing that is literally controlling your life!!!

By the time I put down my last cigarette, I was a tad ticked!

Good…you want to be (and should be) ticked off that the nasty, expensive habit has such a negative impact on your life…stay focused on that!

Second, I had to change up some routines. Rather than going out for a smoke after I got all the laundry done or the floors mopped, I would go file my nails, or brush my teeth, or pick my nose….ANYTHING other than what I use to do. I no longer sit outside on the porch and drink my coffee in the mornings…because that was my “cigarette time.” (Be careful to NOT substitute food for cigarettes!)

I use an ecig (an Ecig…NOT a vape…this is the brand I use but I am NOT endorsing it….just saying). Okay, so I know there is conflicting data on whether these things are bad for you. But you know what…there is hard core proof and data that smoking cigarettes is super bad for you. So until there is some hardcore proof that these little ecigs are harming me, I will use them.

Why? Because as I said, the “craving” to smoke a cigarette will literally blindside you…you will desperately want a cigarette for whatever reason…you’ve had a bad day, you got a whiff of cigarette smoke and it smells sooooo good…for me, it is seeing it on television…when I can’t smell it, it looks sooo relaxing.

The ecig gives me the ability to “smoke” without going out and buying a pack of cigarettes and having to start all over!

I also stay hyper-focused on the positives of NOT smoking! My car/home/clothes/breath smell better, I feel “healthier,” I don’t have to wash or dry clean my clothes every time I wear them, I have a few extra bucks to spend on positive things (like manicures and facials!), I can sit and gossip with my girlfriends after dinner rather than run outside and smoke, I can sit through an entire game/movie/play/flight/car trip without a “smoke break.” So many great things when a nasty habit isn’t controlling your life!

Which brings me to my final point. You may have to start over…repeatedly. Whether you use mints, gum, Chantix, hypnosis, stop cold turkey, get pregnant…whatever…there is a pretty good chance you may have to start, or rather stop, again.

But that is okay…DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP! Seriously, DO NOT turn the negative onto yourself! If you want to think negative, again focus on how bad the cigarettes are…not what a failure you are.

Because you didn’t “fail.” You stopped…for a day, for a week, for a month….maybe even for years. And if you can stop once, you can do it again.

There are absolutely NO good reason for smoking….but there is a lifetime of great reasons to stop.

No excuses.

YOU CAN DO IT!

That, my friends, is my soap box for the day!