Decorating for fall and Mr. Jinx....

Since it is time to decorate for fall and Halloween I thought I would take a minute and formally introduce one of my “rescues.” Mr. Jinx…

All fall decors should include a black cat…right?

I shared pictures of him last year at Christmas…black cats are super tough to photograph. When I look at pictures of him I understand why black is a “slimming” color…he is WAAAAY bigger than this picture reveals. The kids say he is fat…I argue he is just big boned and really fluffy.

Half the time his little fangs are showing…he can’t help it…he has big fangs. Kinda scary looking but super cute when he is stretched out on his back asleep with his little fangs and tongue sticking out…

I have more than a few pictures of him on my Iphone!


Funny story about how I acquired this kitty. He hung around the apartments for months…I knew he wasn’t a feral kitty because he was super friendly. He would rub against your legs and then roll over for a tummy rub. He loves to have his tummy rubbed!

One day I was sitting in my car talking with my manager and mentioned that we should probably take him to the shelter since he was a super friendly and beautiful kitty and someone would certainly adopt him. About that time he jumped in my car and made himself at home on my shoulder.

What was I to do?

Naturally I couldn’t bring him straight home since I didn’t know what I would be exposing my other cats to…so I took him to my vet and had him tested for all kitty diseases. Clean. My vet thought he was about 2 years old and because of his size probably a Maine Coon.

I told the vet to neuter him and give him shots.

At that point I had a small fortune invested in this cat…so I couldn’t very well take him to the shelter.

What was I to do?

Brian was NOT happy that I brought home another cat…

So I told Brian we would foster him. I promptly named him Mr. Jinx…because, well, he’s black…and black cats are suppose to be jinxed right?

This was two weeks before Christmas so with the whole family and their dogs here and all the chaos that goes with the holidays, Mr. Jinx’s nerves kicked in.

Another visit to the vet, a few nights stay, a staggering vet bill…now I REALLY had a small fortune invested in this cat.

What was I to do?

I couldn’t very well just GIVE him away…right?

Brian was still not happy there was another cat in the house (seriously, I only have four…that isn’t TOO many, right?)

But after the holidays, calm was restored and Mr. Jinx settled in…and promptly fell as madly in love with me as I was with him.

Two years later we are still “fostering” him…truth be told, you would have to pry this cat out of my cold, dead hands.

EVERYONE loves Mr. Jinx…even the dogs. He is the coolest, most chill cat I have ever owned…and while Molly was a tough cat to top, he ranks right up there with one of the best cats EVER!

Even Brian has fallen in love with this kitty!

What was he to do…lol!

DECORATING FOR FALL!

It is really tough for me to break out the fall decor when it is still in the 90s every day. But it’s my rule…the week before we leave for our annual trip to Colorado, I decorate for fall.

HOPEFULLY, when we get home it will be a bit cooler. Rarely. Usually I have to put the jeans and Ugg boots back in the depths of the closet for a few more weeks. But the decorating is done and I can sit back and enjoy my favorite time of the year!

Not much changes from year to year…a few years ago I painted these little pumpkins and changed up the window decor…

IMG_3829.JPG

Refurbished pumpkins, deer antlers, fall picks…nothing fancy! Still like this little vignette so it won’t change this year!

A few weeks ago I changed out the dining room light fixture

IMG_3813.JPG

I love the new fixture and I love even more that I can still add the fall garland!

I’ve added a few new elements to the den mantel…a tall vase and new candle sticks….

…but the garland and Mr. Owl are still the focal points. The same but different!

The entry…usually void of much because I still haven’t “decorated” it after it’s little makeover…but it’s a great place to infuse a little fall decor…

IMG_3827.JPG

The seasonal box I featured here…still one of my favorite super simple projects!

I changed out a few pillows and throws….

Even grandmother’s chair got a little pop of fall…

Every year I find pieces of garland, wreaths and picks at the bottom of my storage tubs…I just scatter them here and there for little touches of fall!

IMG_3817.JPG

Again, little changes, but I love it all the same!

So many don’t decorate for fall because of the cost of buying “stuff.” As I have mentioned before, I usually hit the home decor stores at the end of the season (which seems to be before Halloween these days) and pick up a few things here and there for pennies on the dollar! You may not get to enjoy it for a long time this year, but you will get to enjoy it for years to come!

This is also one reason I strongly recommend sticking with “traditional” vs. “fad” seasonal decor. As much as you might love those teal pumpkin pillows and chevron throws, I promise you won’t love them in a few short years.

I actually bought teal pumpkin pillows this year…

….knowing that I will tire of them quickly. No biggy…they have good forms I know I can reuse in the future!

There is no harm in spending a little money on the latest “fads” but be selective and thrifty. Create small vignettes with the latest trends but don’t blow your entire seasonal budget on it! And check out the blogs and Pinterest…there are thousands of nifty ideas for inexpensive seasonal projects that take little time, effort or money!

Fall may not be “in the air” just yet, but it is certainly “in the house.” Maybe this year it will actually feel like fall outside when we get home!

The couch saga...

As I mentioned in this post, I custom ordered a new couch...in MAY...after MONTHS of shopping!!! (And we all know how much I hate to shop!) It was suppose to arrive in 8 weeks, but it took 10 weeks because my sales person went on vacation for two weeks and no one submitted the order. Thank goodness patience comes with age.

So it arrived in August....

I REALLY loved this couch...evident by the fact that I was patient AND I paid a small fortune for it.

HOWEVER, it had one major flaw. Because of the fabric choice, there were seams in the cushion and on the front of the couch.

One of the main reasons I special ordered an expensive couch was because I wanted the "seamless and clean" look of a single cushion. 

So for over two months I went back and forth with the store and the manufacturer. Fortunately for me, the digital "mock up" of the couch with that fabric did not show any seams...which gave me grounds to return it. But I didn't want to return it, I wanted THIS couch. It was super comfortable and the fabric was the perfect "creamy" with just a hint of "sparkle."

So I had the manufacturer send me several yards of the fabric to see if maybe I would like the fabric weave running "vertical" vs. "horizontal" which would eliminate the seams.

It only took two months to get the fabric sample. Only....

And then...hum...I just didn't know. So I went back to the store and looked at more fabric. Couldn't find one I liked so I decided to bite the bullet and have them rebuild the couch running the fabric "vertical," eliminating the seams. 

And then I waited...for over three weeks I waited THINKING the couch was on re-order. When I called to get an ETA, I was told they had not even ordered it yet.

This, my friends, is what they call "the end of my rope." 

Needless to say, I returned the couch and started over.

Which means I was not going to have a couch for the holidays. 

Several weeks before Thanksgiving I ordered a couch, "butt unfelt" (you know what I mean ladies!), that was suppose to "5 day quick ship.". While it did in fact ship in 5 days, it took the shipping company 3 weeks to deliver it. No, I did not have the couch for Thanksgiving.

The new couch? Well, I can't say I LOVE it...I love the style and have admired this couch many times online...it is the Younger "Michael" couch. A tad retro...single cushion, a tiny bit of tufting. The fabric selection was limited on the "quick ship" option so I picked a neutral fabric I could live with. Only the "standard" seat cushion was available in the "quick ship" and honestly, It's not as comfy as I would like. Again, I can't say I am madly in LOVE with the fabric and feel of the couch, but I certainly don't hate it. 

The upside is that it wasn't terribly expensive... and since I am not "in love" with this sofa, I won't feel terribly guilty about giving it to one of the kids in 5-6-7 years.

This week Christmas goes back to storage and then I tend to "hibernate" for a couple of months. It is just too cold to get much done. But I have already eyed a few projects I want to do inside...and I have a few projects I haven't shared. 

Happy New Year! Celebrate smart and stay safe!

 

 

 

Photographing pets for Christmas!

I say it every year...I am going to learn to use my grossly expensive digital camera.

But I never get around to it, so often my pictures are "less than perfect!"

I read a tutorial one time about taking pictures of your Christmas tree. Not sure I remember everything about how to do it properly, but one thing I did remember is to use my tripod. In low light situations, it is a must!

One thing I always like to do is take Christmas pictures of my pets...that seems like a near impossible thing to do since the shutter speed is slow and getting an animal to sit perfectly still is almost an impossible task! 

This year I managed to get a few half way decent pictures. My trick? Well, again, a tripod...gotta use it.

The other is to get them when they are "low energy." For my animals, that is early in the morning when they are still a bit sleepy or late at night. Since I don't function well after about 8 in the evening, I decided to try to capture them (almost literally) early in the morning.

Mr. Jinx is the toughest to photograph...but I did manage to get a fairly decent one this year....

IMG_2139.JPG

Getting Cleo to "sit and stay" is another challenge. She cooperated somewhat this year....

You can tell she wasn't at all thrilled with this process.

Litty the spaz cat is down right impossible...she rarely sits still. I did manage to catch a glimpse of her under the tree...

Animals and little kids...good luck!!!

The miracle chairs...

Even after years of proving I can turn just about any "trash" into a little "treasure," I think Brian still raises an eyebrow from time to time.

Such was the case with these chairs....

We went to a farm auction and these chairs had been tossed into an old barn, only to see the light of day when the auctioneer dug them out and sold them...to me!

What would possess me? They were literally caked with nastiness and two were in pieces. But I saw the potential (and of course the old mud dauber nests and spiders and bugs!). 

Rarely will I take a hose to a piece of wood furniture...but I had no choice. Even then I had to scrub them with a strong detergent and steel wool.

Then I pulled nails, scraped old glue, cut out broken spindles and removed splintered veneer.

Then I had to clamp and glue everything back together. One chair was missing a side apron so I cut a new one and secured it in place with glue and my Kreg jig! 

My original plan was to prime and paint them. They still had a few rough spots and I knew I wouldn't get a pristine finish I would be happy with so I decided to do a chalk paint and distress finish on them! Always a good choice for a piece that has a few "boo-boos!" 

I think the boo-boos and the distressed finish give the chairs "aged character." After recovering the seats on the two Duncan Phyfe style chairs and making a new seat for the other, I think they turned out pretty sweet.

My plan is to stage them with this trestle table I will be taking into 410 Vintage this week, just in time for the holidays! 

Just in time for Brian and me to take our annual trek to Colorado! I can't wait...two days of fly fishing, several days of sight-seeing and maybe even a day of gambling in Central City! The forecast shows the temps in the 50s and 60s so I will be packing my coat and Uggs! One thing is for sure, I always come home recharged and ready to enjoy my favorite season

I made a few changes to my fall decorating this year...one being these little pumpkins...

I added a few silk sunflowers, a fall garland, fall picks and deer antlers (yes, my kids killed them....ick!).

Not sure I am loving this little vignette but I have a few more months to make changes and additions!

 

Updating fall pumpkins!

It is no secret that fall is my absolute favorite time of the year! I love the Christmas season, but I adore fall and by the time I finish my fall decorating, it pretty much looks like fall puked in my house!

As I mentioned (here) several years ago, I have considered transitioning to the "farmhouse" style fall decor...whites, blues, grays....more of a neutral pallet. But I just can't seem to move away from the "traditional" colors of fall....reds, oranges, yellow. 

After years of exposure, a few of my pumpkins have started to fade and look pretty tired and worn. These pumpkins sit on top of the bookcase in the front room window. 

I know...this picture is crud! But the glare is brutal especially with my limited photography skills!

Pretty gnarly looking!

It is way too early to start decorating for fall but this year I decided to make a significant change to the front window decor.

The little scarecrows were sold in a garage sale last year. The pumpkins could probably be tossed, but I decided to give them a little facelift and start SLOWLY making a move to a neutral color pallet for the season. Okay, so I'm probably not going to give up on my reds and oranges but it won't hurt me to change a few vignettes. 

This is a prime example of "oh, what the heck"....they were toast so what is the worst that can happen...I don't like them and I toss them anyway! 

First, I had to make a trip to the storage building and dig out the box with these ratty little pumpkins.

They are not ceramic or wood like these...just cheap little foam pumpkins. (I use to store all my seasonal decor in the attic but last year we rented a storage building so we didn't have to kill ourselves climbing up and down the attic stairs.)

Next, paint colors. I decided to go with off-white, teal and grey. 

I couldn't find a gray spray paint I liked so I bought one of the little sample pots of light gray.

I removed all the little stems and stuck them in the styrofoam.

Most of the stems had come loose and needed to be hot glued anyway, so no biggy to remove them. I painted them gray, then "dry brushed" some brown on them to give them a "stem look." 

I split them up based on size and painted them the three different colors. 

After paint, I decided they still needed a little "something." On the teal, I dry brushed the grey in the grooves of the pumpkin, on the grey I used white and on the off-white I used the brown. I just watered down the accent colors, lightly brushed it on, then randomly wiped it off with a damp cloth. The accent colors gave the pumpkins some depth and a more realistic look. 

I used hot glue to reattach the little stems.

Cute as a bugs ear and they will be perfect for decorating the window this year. I may add some silk hydrangea blooms! I'll try to remember to share when I get them all staged and pretty!

Pinterest is chalked full of fall vignette inspiration so I have no doubt I will be able to pull together a cute vignette using these little guys!

Before you toss a ratty old decor piece think about giving it a simple little facelift.

But again, it is still too early for fall! I usually decorate right before we make our annual trek to Colorado but this year we leave a little earlier so I may wait until we get home. Who know...the mood may strike the first time I pull on my Uggs! 

But when the mood does strike, these little guys will be ready to go! It may be too early to decorate but it is never too early to start preparing!!!

Super simple DIY wall decor....

As I look around at my wall decor, I realize that MOST of it is thrift store, garage sale, vintage market pieces that I have collected and "upscaled" at some point in time.

Here I shared a quick update to my little gallery wall of favorite family photos....

Simple, inexpensive frames spray painted and new matting. I didn't even have expensive "custom" mats made...I cut bulk matting to fit the frame and then mounted the pictures on top of it!

I spent a fortune on these dining pictures 17 years ago and in my quest to transition from "dark and dank" to "light and bright" I gave them a little make-over....

I did spend a little more on custom matting, but I chalk painted the frames and deconstructed and changed it all out myself. A tad more expensive but faaaaar less expensive then going out and buying new matted pictures! You can pick up frames like these for pennies at thrift stores! Maybe the picture is ugly and the frame is "dated" but it really is a simple little DIY project that can make a huge impact! 

This super cool mid century dresser mirror was another DIY project I shared here

I love the fact that I can change out the wreath for the holiday seasons...I have one for fall (pictured) and Christmas, a Valentine's wreath and a cool little metal thing for the 4th of July! For "off-season" I have a simple boxwood wreath!

Now this is where I admit that I am a bad blogger....because AGAIN I failed to take any "before" pictures. So close your eyes and imagine...inexpensive little brown frames with pictures of a goose...or something stupid like that.

Again, a little KTSP treatment, a tiny bit of spray paint, a little inspirational quote printed on stock paper and PRESTO....

When I was at an auction last week I picked up two unfinished oak cabinet doors. Here I shared how easy it is to turn them into cute little chalkboards...perfect for a kitchen, mud room or the kid's room! 

Chalkpaint, chalkboard paint, a little cup pull to hold the chalk and again, PRESTO! 

(I even painted the cabinet doors in my garage with chalkboard paint so I have a place to write down supplies I need to pick up or projects I need to work on!)

My point? If you don't like your wall decor,  change it! Paint it, change out the mats, change out the picture. 

Make it pretty! Cuz life is too short to live with ugly wall decor! 

Making the holidays a tad easier...

"Its the most wonderful time of the year!!!" It is, but man, can it put a strain on our bodies, time and finances! 

Over the years I have found a few ways to make my holiday season just a tad easier and economical.

Today I want to share a few of those things....

LIGHT REMOTE

I bought mine at Lowe's....

This nifty little gadget allows you to turn on your indoor Christmas decor with the touch of a button. I have one on my big tree, one on my small tree in the den and one on the big wreath and trees in the den. Just plug anything into this outlet, plug it into the wall and punch a button...on or off...simple as it sounds!

TIMERS

Definite must-have for outdoor lighting! No more going out into the cold and unplugging the lights before you go to bed...or worse, FORGETTING to unplug the lights! I set my timers to 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. and know that my lights will automatically turn on and off! (Most home improvement stores carry them!)

STAR SHOWERS

These were pretty much out of necessity. Brian has been the official "outdoor light" guy for 16 years...but a few years ago he fell off the ladder and last year he had a hernia. So I had to find a way to light up the outdoors without killing him. Hence the Star Showers! One...mehhhh. Two...so-so....but two on the house and four pointed at the tall pine trees....WOW!!!! Beautiful. I almost don't miss all the colored and icicle lights...almost!

I bought mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond and I have seen them advertised online and on TV.

WRAPPING TABLE

Again, out of necessity. I'm too OCD to leave wrapping stuff strung out on my dining table for the entire season...and sitting on the floor wrapping presents for hours on end was more than my knees and back could handle. So now I set up this little table in my room and load up my wire baskets with paper, bows and boxes. Not only do I have a perfect spot for wrapping, I have the perfect place to stack gifts that need wrapping. Pens, scissors, labels and the tape dispenser are always at my finger tips!

WIRED RIBBON

I love this stuff...it makes beautiful simple bows for packages but the great thing is you can reuse it year after year. Just roll them up after all the gifts are open, thrown them in a box and you will have beautiful ribbon next year! Pretty and economical! 

STORAGE UNIT

This one is new for us this year. I have always stored my holiday decor in the attic. But as you get older, climbing up and down the rickety attic stairs with bulky boxes gets a little dicey. When Brian moved this year, we decided to get a storage unit big enough to hold some of his stuff and ALL our seasonal decor...both fall and Christmas. And there is A LOT! Yes, it is kind of a pain to have to go get the boxes and then take the empty boxes back, then go get the empty boxes, and then take them back. But honestly, it is easier than hauling it all in and out of the attic...and far safer! 

HEIRLOOM ORNAMENTS

I've shared this before...and it bares repeating...it is never too late to start a "tradition." When my oldest daughter was a baby my mother started giving her several special ornaments every year. She continued this "tradition" for all my children, who are now 35, 28, 27 and 19...2-3 ornaments times all those years! You can imagine how many I now have. My oldest daughter now has all her and her children's ornaments and they fill her tree. I still have the boys' and my youngest daughter's and will keep them until they have their own Christmas tree. Each ornament has some meaning...the year they went skiing, their first deer, high school and college graduations, glass ornaments created from the ash of Mr. St. Helen's...so many ornaments... enough to completely cover a 9' tree. I don't need ribbon or balls or "fillers"...I have a tree full of memories, each ornament marking a milestone or special time in our lives! Priceless...and beautiful! 

 

These are just a few little things that have made our holiday season a tad easier...and economical...and safer! 

Enjoy the season!

Farmhouse table....

Today I want to share a farmhouse table I put together using some "mismatched" pieces I picked up!

Sometimes I find things at the apartments and drag them home "just in case."

This ugly pine table top is a prime example....

(No, I have no idea what the black stuff was...paint maybe?)

It hung out in the garage for MONTHS because I knew I would have to find the perfect legs for it...and honestly it wasn't on my priority list.

Just so happens I snagged some nifty old table legs at an auction a few weeks ago...

By themselves they didn't amount to much!

I stripped the top using this process and stained it with gel stain. Chalk painted and distressed the legs and attached them to the top. Sealed it all with poly. 

Cute as a bugs ear.

I even managed to drag it into the dining room and stage it for a few pics. Okay, honestly it was cold outside when I decided to work on it so I brought it into the dining room to stain, paint and assemble! (NEVER strip furniture in the house...the chemicals are just too strong! I stripped it when it was warmer outside last week!)

You may notice that one of the wood castors on a leg was missing. I keep spares around but didn't have one the right size or four that matched so I just removed them all...no biggy!

Just another example of how easy it is to take something destined for the dumpster and create a beautiful piece!

I still love my dining table so this one is off to 410 Vintage! If you are local you should really drop in! Even if this table isn't your style, I PROMISE you will find something you will love! 

Next week I am going to share a few things that make my holidays soooo much easier!

Until then....

Thanksgiving bench....

Last year I shared a couple of little benches I whipped up out of necessity! 

My dining table spends 364 days a year against the wall with nothing more than a couple of chairs.

Since I host Thanksgiving dinner, the table is extended and pulled into the middle of the dining room so I need the additional seating!

It is no secret that I tend to stick with what I know so when it was time to pull out the table and get ready for Thanksgiving dinner last week, it was back to the garage to build another bench for the holiday!

Since I had already designed and built a few last year, I really didn't need to draw up new plans...I just needed to dig around in my scrap wood and find a few pieces I could use to construct a new bench.

That was pretty easy considering I had some oak left over from my stairway demo earlier in the year!  I found an old pine dresser at the apartments that was missing the drawers, but the sides and top were perfect slabs of solid wood for the top of the bench. I also had some trim from who knows what project. I always have paint and stain on hand! I had to pull a few nails and sand off some old mastic, but other than that I had everything I needed! In the end, the bench cost me nothing more than a little bit of time!

It's no secret that oak is not my favorite wood but since I just need this little bench for the day, no biggy! The benches I constructed last year served their purpose and then where promptly sold in my booth, which explains why I had to build a new one!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! After a day of stuffing our faces with turkey and EIGHT pies, I spent the weekend decorating for Christmas! Some people start off the holiday season fighting the crowds at the mall on Black Friday, I start mine wrestling with strings of lights and yards of garland...fun time! 

Little changes from year to year...rarely do I tackle holiday projects. Here I shared a cute little project made out of a butter dish ...

...and here you can see how I made this versatile primitive box display...

....but all in all things pretty much stay the same. 

Well, except the constant changes I keep making....

It's the little things!

Cheap and/or free are always my favorite way to add a little seasonal warmth to my home!

I shop sales, clearances, auctions, yard sales...it is always fun to find inexpensive little "treasures" I can use to decorate a space or add a touch of warmth or whimsy. 

Last Friday I actually did something I really hate. I shopped "retail stores." I was specifically looking for cotton stems or cotton wreaths. Evidently decorating with cotton is all the rage this fall and I wanted some...but evidently that is another "fad" that hasn't hit our area because after hitting every home decor store in the area I came home empty handed.

My neighbor Tammy dropped by this week...she had visited her daughter in south Arkansas and brought home some REAL cotton stems from their farm.

Tammy to the rescue!!!! I couldn't believe she had a pile of cotton stems in her garage just sitting there for the "pickin!" 

LOVE! I literally just snipped off the root ends and stuck them in a little vase. I probably should find a bigger vase, but I love how these REAL cotton stems fill this space! 

Last year I feature some awesome little "coffins."  Sounds morbid I know, but as I explained, they are actually the lids to antique sewing machines...and I absolutely love them! I used a couple for storing photo albums but I had one that was just sitting in the den.

My other neighbors, Kenny and Maryann, have these really cool trees in their backyard...they kind of look like Aspens and the bark is "whiter" than normal tree bark. I have no idea what they are but I used the branches in my little seasonal box I shared here. I decided to cut a few more of their branches and use those in this little coffin in front of the fireplace.

So simple!

Outdoors...an old galvanized bucket dressed for the season! Just drop a potted mum in it (no need to get your hands dirty!)....or if you don't want to spend the money on a mum, fill it with berry stems, pine cones and pine branches! Again, super simple!

 

My point? Adding seasonal touches to our home decor doesn't have to cost much, if anything. Just look to nature (and your neighbors!) We do it in the spring and summer when we bring in cut flowers. Fall gives us just as many ways to bring nature into our homes!

Green "horse apples," red berry bush stems, pine tree branches, tree limbs with colorful fall leaves...all ways to bring nature into your space. You can stick them in wood bowls or galvanized buckets or cheap vases or old wooden boxes. 

Some of the prettiest seasonal decorations are free!