2 Wreaths (Rosemary and Faux Boxwood) to DIY in 15 Minutes

I had picked up boxwood garland several weeks ago at the Target dollar spot for $3, not knowing exactly what I would do with it.

The $3 garland made 2 wreaths. You just can’t beat that with a stick!

I literally just wrapped it in a circle (it’s wired, think like the way wired ribbon shapes) and tucked the ends in. I shaped it a little to fluff it up That’s it. Doesn’t even sound right to call it a DIY. It might have taken 5 minutes to make each one.

I have wanted pops of greenery everywhere this Christmas season and have been in love with red and white striped ribbon.

I love the simplicity of how these boxwood wreaths turned out.

The 2nd type of wreaths I made is fresh Rosemary wreaths. These were super easy and quick to make too. I made 2 of them within 15-20 minutes.

All you need is a fine floral wire, fresh rosemary (longer pieces work best) and wire cutters or scissors to cut your floral wire.

The longer pieces of rosemary work best, but you can see that the bottom portions of my rosemary were sparse, not a lot of green on the stem. I didn’t want mine to look too woody, I like the look with more leaves, so I cut off the bottom sections where there weren’t many needles/leaves.

I tried making the wreaths 2 different ways. This method is the one that worked best.

I knew I wanted to hang my wreaths on a set of shutters in my my living room. So, I held the wire up to the shutter to eyeball the size I wanted the circle to be. I formed a circle the size I wanted with the floral wire and just wrapped the ends to make it hold together.  You can see the circle of wire in the picture above.  It feels a little flimsy at this point because I used a fine wire (so it wouldn’t show) but that doesn’t matter.

Then I started curving a piece of rosemary around the outer edge of the wire. Cut a long piece of wire and wrap it around the rosemary to hold it onto the circle of wire.

If you use too much wire too close together you’ll smush down the leaves and it will be flat. Mine is a little more flat than I wish it was. So space the wire closely enough to hold, but far enough apart to leave room for the leaves to fluff out.  Next time I won’t use quite as much wire so the pieces can stick out a little more naturally looking.

I would like it my wreaths were a little fluffier, but my rosemary bush was a bit neglected so the bottom of the bush was dry and leaves sparse. If your bush is healthier your wreaths will be even prettier.

I’m loving the simplicity of these two types of wreaths. I’ve wanted to add touches of Christmas to most rooms in the house but didn’t want it to feel cluttered or too fussy. Having some simple greens has helped it not feel too fussy for my taste.

And, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! I couldn’t find the striped ribbon I wanted in the typical section at Hobby Lobby. I just happened to walk through the gift wrap section and found this fabric ribbon ( it was curled and I ironed it out) sold as gift toppers. It was perfect!

Merry Christmas!

Painting $1 Dollar Tree Pumpkins

This year I have been excited about some Dollar Tree decor finds. They don’t look like much straight from the store, but I love how they turned out once these pumpkins were painted!

This is how they looked when I bought them. Very fake looking. All but the ones with the polka dots on them are made of styrofoam. Our cat, Bad Buddy, got ahold of them and made marks in some. I was able to salvage most of them though.

A couple of weeks ago when I chalk painted my coffee table, I painted my pumpkins at the same time with the base color of a creamy off white chalk paint. It took 2-3 coats. It was a chalk painting and watching movies kind of day!

It was a couple of weeks later before I got a chance to put the final touches on with acrylic paints. Once they were chalk painted it really didn’t take long at all to finish them up.

The slightly raised pieces you see are damage to the styrofoam from my cat’s claws.

On some of the pumpkins I used an antiquing glaze to shade the indented part of the pumpkin .

You only want a very small amount on a paper towel. After I dipped it in the glaze I wiped most of it off before I applied it to the pumpkin. And then still wiped most of the glaze off the pumpkin too. It takes so little!

After painting, you can still see a crease/seam in the edge, that they’re cheaply made, but once they’re next to other pumpkins and greenery it wasn’t noticable to me at all.

Some I accented with shades of green. I dry brushed the paint on- meaning I had wiped off most of the paint on the brush before I brushed it on the pumpkins.

Others I accented with shades of light tan and a very light peach.

For the stems, I painted all of them gold first. I left some of them gold, and others I used shades of brown to mottle it some, to look a little more natural. I love both looks, the gold and the slightly more natural looking ones. I didn’t want them all to look exactly the same.

For now, I used most of the pumpkins on our piano. I love how it all turned out once I added some greenery and tiny pine cones.

I don’t know how to take a picture with a mirror in it without getting myself in there!

I switched up the Dollar Tree flowers a little and added a half price sprig of greenery from Hobby Lobby. The bookends on the right are a thrifted find made over a year or two ago.

I added a couple of the pumpkins to the mantle and a string of lights I bought last year at the Target dollar spot. After I bought them last year I never used them. I contemplated returning them but never did. I’m liking them in this spot now. I’m still enjoying the dollar tree florals here.

As this posts, we don’t have power back yet after Hurricane Michael but we’re thankful to have sustained very minimal damage. My sister in law just loaned us a generator. In addition to saving the food in our freezer, this menopausal mama is super thankful to be sitting in front of a box fan powered by the generator.

Praying for all those affected by this storm.

Till next week friends,


DIY: Chalk Painting My Coffee Table With Homemade Chalk Paint

This past Saturday, I enjoyed a semi-relaxing day working on projects and watching chick flicks.  I had known that both of my grown up kids were going to be out of town.  On recent weekends we’ve been watching the Bama football games together each Saturday.  With both of them gone, a project day seemed like the perfect idea, partly so I wouldn’t have too much time on my hands to miss them.

I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration from Instagram these days and it’s been motivating me to work on some projects I’ve been putting off.  One of my current Instagram favorites is Natalie at My Vintage Porch.  She has great style, and in the short time I’ve been following her she’s constantly working on a budget friendly (my favorite kind!) project.  In her Instagram stories she’s hilariously funny. I literally laugh out loud sometimes.  Her Simplified Fall Decor where she used Dollar Tree florals was the inspiration for freshening up my living room with Dollar Tree florals.

I’ve painted a couple of other pieces of furniture but I’ve never used chalk paint before.  I’ve wanted to try it, but it’s pretty expensive.  I had seen many bloggers say they made their own chalk paint for much less $ with good results. A couple of real life folks told me they made their own and both of them had used plaster of paris as their “chalky” ingredient.

Choosing a Chalk Paint Recipe

If you’ve been following me a minute, you know I over-research everything 🙂 I spent some time googling and reading several articles in preparation.  I read this comparison of 4 recipes for homemade chalk paint. Because the plaster of paris was given to me, I ended up using what was her #2 choice, plaster of paris. I also read My Vintage Porch’s  post about her chalk paint recipe and painting techniques.  

My coffee table before, in need of a makeover.

***This blog post contains affiliate links, if you purchase through one of my links I will receive a small advertising fee, thank you for your support! See full disclosure here.***

My sister-in-law had recently chalk painted her coffee table and had given me her leftover plaster of paris–the ingredient she used to make latex paint into chalk paint.

If I had been starting from scratch I probably would have ordered (lots of articles said it’s hard to find locally) this calcium carbonate.  This calcium carbonate is a good price and has good reviews by people who used it specifically for chalk paint.  Calcium carbonate is essentially chalk, so it makes sense that it seems to be the favorite among some chalk paint makers.

The plaster of paris mixture worked just fine for me. Everything I read said if you want the look and feel of chalk paint, you should use flat latex paint to mix with your “chalk” ingredient.

I really like Valspar brand paint, it’s what we have used the last couple of times we painted rooms in our house.  I went to Lowe’s and got one quart of Valspar flat latex paint mixed to a color I chose.  It did take me 2 tries to get the color I wanted.  I got it mixed the first time, then took it back and they added colorant to help me get the color I wanted.

A quart was more than plenty! I only used 1 cup of the latex so I’ve got a good bit left for other projects.  I had originally planned to just get a sample size mixed but found out those only come in satin finish.

Mixing the Chalk Paint Recipe

I used this recipe on the Lowe’s website 1/3 cup plaster of paris mixed with 1/3 cup water. I whisked it together and it quickly became a smooth consistency.  I then added 1 cup of the latex paint.  On other sites and in my SIL’s instructions I saw that they gave directions for a certain consistency and not necessarily an exact amount of water.  Next time I mix this chalk paint I will try it with a little less water.  I think it could have stood to be a little thicker, and then might cover in 2 coats, but worked just fine the way I mixed it.

Although I’ve read you don’t have to sand before chalk painting, I did sand my table some because it had deep dings and dents in it.  My favorite finish is a slightly distressed finish. I don’t want it to look new and shiny but not too beat up either.  I want it shabby but not too shabby.

The hubby watched football most of the day and Jessie was happy on her own so I enjoyed watching several movies while I painted and then added a protective finish to my coffee table.  It had been several years since I had last seen Sleepless in Seattle and that was my favorite of the day, love that movie.

Painting Your Project

I used 2-3 coats of the paint.  In most places it seemed to need 3 as I was covering a dark green.  The paint dries so quickly that by the time I could finish the whole piece I could pretty much start the next coat.

You want to use a good quality brush if you’re brushing.  I had bought a small foam roller but decided to brush since I would need to use a brush on the leg spindles anyway.  I can’t see many brush strokes in my finished project, it looks pretty smooth.

Where you see the brownish color in the cream paint, there was a little sanding dust that I hadn’t cleaned off well. So you will want to clean yours better than I did mine before starting to paint. Sometimes I get in too big of a hurry and just want to get done.  Anybody with me?  It was easy for the sanding dust to pool in the grooves and not super easy to see.  After I realized what was happening I wiped the rest of table better before I continued painting.

It’s not anything that’s bothersome to me because of the color I chose and the distressed finish, but if you weren’t distressing your piece it might be more obvious.

When it was completely dry, I used sandpaper to distress the painted finish a little.  I sanded just the areas that it seemed would naturally show wear.

I bought this Valspar antiquing wax at Lowe’s and had planned to to use it over the cream colored chalk paint.

I decided though that I wanted to leave it looking as it was, slightly distressed without the antiquing.  I already have a project in mind though that I will use this wax for soon so I won’t return it.

Sealing/Protecting Your Painted Piece

I sealed the coffee table with 3 coats of water based Polycrylic, per the recommendations on the can.  Luckily for me, my sister-in-law had lots of  Polycrylic left over from her project and gave it to me.

Although the instructions say to wait longer between coats, when it seemed dry and not at all tacky to the touch, I went ahead and re-coated. My SIL said she did the same and it worked fine for both of us. I did read that you don’t want to let the polycrylic pool (use too much) or it could cause a yellowing in the pooled areas.

Although it says matte finish, it does leave just a little bit of a sheen.  I like the amount of shine it has, it’s ever so slight, just not 100% flat.

When I paint my kitchen table I will definitely use Polycrylic which gives greater protection for more heavily used pieces. For the coffee table I think I could have used either–the polycrylic or a wax, which is for pieces that receive lighter use.  It’s my understanding that the wax has even less shine and just offers a little protection.

While each coat of my polycrylic was drying I used the leftover chalk paint to paint some Dollar Tree pumpkins. Straight from the store they are not pretty, but I have pretty plans for them! They aren’t finished yet but you’ll see them soon.

Teddy (the grand-dog) is perfectly posed in this picture and Stella is chillin’ in the background. I kept trying to take a picture without them and gave up.

I’ve thought about painting this table for years. I love how it turned out and wish I hadn’t waited so long to do it.

I plan to sand and re-stain the top of the table a darker shade. I started sanding a little by hand as I can’t currently locate my hand sander in the beast of a shop out back.  I decided it was going to take too long without my sander and will save that part for later.

I’ve been researching and love some stain projects I’ve seen where they mixed a darker stain with grey.  You can watch for that project in the future 🙂

Till next week friends,


Freshening Up For Fall Using Dollar Store Decor

This year I have enjoyed freshening things up a bit for very little money.  I bought all the flowers for two arrangements and the fall wooden pumpkin for the porch for just $19 plus tax!  If you want to freshen up your home for fall don’t forget about the dollar stores if you have a small decorating budget.

It barely feels like fall here yet.  It’s been slightly cooler during the day and the evenings have started to be nice for sitting outside. I may add a couple more things when it feels a bit more like fall.  That’s my typical way anyway, to do it a bit along and not all at once.

I’ve never been one to decorate much for season changes other than Christmas.  When my kids were younger, this time of the year starting back to homeschooling, was so full and decor was not at the top of the list!  When I do any seasonal decorating it’s very simple and small changes.  That’s kind of my style anyway and I never spend a lot.

I have never given much thought to Dollar Tree for decorating and especially for flowers.  Passionate Penny Pincher has some DIY tutorials of super cute things she’s made by shopping at Dollar Tree and that’s what first got me to thinking about  Dollar Tree for decor.  Then, last week I was inspired by The Vintage Porch when she bought flowers from the Dollar Tree and showed how she arranged them on Instagram stories.

I bought 11 stems of flowers at Dollar Tree and was able to make TWO arrangements with them!  I won’t be forgetting about Dollar Tree anytime soon for flowers. You just can’t beat two arrangements for $11!

I already had both of the decorated mason jars as they were part of my daughter’s wedding reception decor.  I really like how simple they are and have used them for fresh flowers several times and love them with these arrangements.

Although in this first pic (I had to edit for bad lighting) the flowers look a little bit yellowish, they’re all a really creamy neutral color except for the brown and yellow long furry pieces (cattails).  The neutrals are what has really been appealing to me this year.  Dollar Tree also had the traditional fall colored flowers I just chose to go with neutrals this time.

These same flowers would be beautiful on a wreath!  I’m contemplating making one for another room as I don’t want to add more of the same to this room and already have something for the front door.

I love how these turned out.

A couple of tips for using Dollar Tree florals:

  • Some definitely look more fake than others.  Pick through for the best looking ones.  Some types of flowers look more cheap and fake no matter where you buy them.  I look not only for my favorites but the ones that look less fake.
  • A few of the Gerber daisies petals wouldn’t lay the way they were supposed to.  A couple of them were that way when I bought them and a couple got smushed in the arranging.  I used just a tiny dot of hot glue to make the petals lay down the way I wanted. (They were kind of sticking up awkwardly.)
  • We have several Dollar Trees in our town.  Another location has a better selection of florals than the one closest to me.  If you have more than one, you might find one that has a better or just different selection.

This arrangement is on top of the piano.  I don’t like how everything on the piano is looking together so I’m planning to shop my house and rearrange things when I get a chance.  Till I’m happier with it, you only get to see this part.

Tricks when arranging faux/silk flowers:

  • If you’re not using styrofoam (since it’s glass and see through I couldn’t) add the long, spiky (in this arrangement the cattails) first and spread it out the directions you want first, then place the flowers.  On one of the arrangements I added them after the flowers and the spikes stuck up too high and I had to redo the whole thing. FYI, each of these arrangements has two spiky longer things; one brown and one yellow.
  • I left some stems with all the flowers in tact (4-5) blooms and then others I cut apart with wire cutters and placed where I wanted them.
  • Many of the flowers have stems that will bend a little to give the look you want.
  • When I was finished and a couple of flowers just wouldn’t lay the way I wanted I used a little hot glue on the stem and then stuck it where I wanted and held it till it dried.  I recently bought Gorilla Glue glue sticks and I love them! They’re more expensive but I had a good coupon.

I found this wooden pumpkin sign for my porch at the Dollar General for just $8.  Some of Dollar General’s home decor is on the tacky side, but sometimes I find things I really like for a great price.  My porch doesn’t get enough sun for mums so I’m not sure how I will change up the flowers later.  These impatiens need a little drink and I hoped they would distract from how dirty the siding and porch is 🙂

If like me, you’re scouring Instagram and Pinterest and seeing beautifully decorated homes, don’t be discouraged.  You can make small changes that make you fall freshly in love with your home without breaking the bank.  I’m all about that!

Hope you’re having a great week,


DIY Dollar Tree Mirror Makeover

This was such a simple DIY I almost didn’t make a blog post for it.  If I had just shared on social media, it wouldn’t show up on the blog in the DIY section though, so here you go.

I was inspired to think about Dollar Tree mirrors differently because of a project Passionate Penny Pincher shared.  I can’t find her mirror project to link to, but she has a section on her blog of DIY projects using Dollar Tree materials.  She has a section called Friday fluff ups worth checking out too.  Even when Laurie isn’t using Dollar tree materials, all of her projects are “penny pinched” and she has lots of good ideas.

Okay, on to the Dollar Tree mirror.  Because this mirror is small, I might have liked to use 2 or three of them hung together, or as part of a gallery wall, but I bought the last one they had that day.

We have 3 different Dollar Trees not too far from me, so if you have more than one Dollar Tree, you might check multiple locations when looking for specific items.  One year I found stocking holders I liked and had to go to more than one store to find enough of the matching ones I wanted.

This is what it looked like before, and with the rest of the day’s dollar tree haul in the background 😬[[[[[[
I didn’t hate the original finish, it just wasn’t exactly what I wanted.

I covered the mirror with masking tape to protect it from the paint.

I used this Rustoleum spray chalk paint. I think it took 3 coats to get inside all those little cracks. When I went to paint a coat from the back, to more easily access some of the crooks and crannies, I almost messed the whole thing up.

I think the first coat wasn’t dry enough to be turned upside down.  When I sprayed a coat of paint from the back, the front wanted to slide a little (not even a true drip, it was kinda crazy).   It wasn’t dry enough to lay it on the paper, so I put a block of styrofoam underneath the actual mirror part (that wasn’t being painted),  to hold it off the ground when I painted the back soon after I had painted the front.   I was able to smooth it out , but be careful if you paint from the back side after painting the front.

The smarter thing would be to wait until the front side is completely dry to the touch before painting the back, but I never do that.  Yes, I’m a little impatient and sometimes that’s a problem.

I love how it turned out!  The mirror is small, so it doesn’t function much like a mirror (can’t see much in it), but I like that it adds a little something different to a photo grouping.

I didn’t have to use the whole can of paint, so I have some left for another thrift store or Dollar Tree find in the future.

I don’t know if this is where it will stay, but I kind of like it here.

I tried it on our foyer wall and although I decided not to leave it there, I love how the color popped against the terra-cotta colored wall.

Now that the last of Jessie’s camps are over, our summer will be slower paced. I’ve gotten some paint samples and taped them to Jessie’s walls and hope we can make a decision and repaint her room sometime this summer. It’s one of the many things on the list for the summer. But, it’s at the top of the list so hopefully I will follow through.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer! I hope it includes floating in a pool, reading books, spending time with friends and being creative. Well, those are MY favorite things; I hope your summer is full of whatever refreshes and inspires you. We all need a dose of that!

If you’ve been crafting or doing some DIY I would love to see what you’ve been working on!

Till next week friends,


DIY Thrift Store Lamp Makeover

When I found this lamp at a thrift store, I instantly loved the detail of the metal. I love how it has clean lines, but isn’t plain. I LOVE it. I bought the lamp for $8.

Ummm, that shade though. The shade was atrocious, and had to go asap! I have it in my to-be-donated box. Someone else shopping in the store at the same time said they thought it could be made over in a cute way.

As soon as I saw the lamp, I pictured the metal spray painted a creamy white. I originally thought I would add an antiquing wax, but once it was painted I loved it and decided to leave it the clean and creamy color without the antiquing wax.

The lamp before. Oh my goodness, that shade. On the other side was a little snowman.
With the shade off I just needed to tape the electrical part at the top to protect it from the paint.

I used this Rust-Oleum satin finish paint in Heirloom White.

Since our oldest got married, for the first time in I don’t know how many years, we have a guest room. I painted this room last year but haven’t put the finishing touches on the room.

It is currently, I think, my favorite room in our house. It doubles as a space I can work on my blog without being distracted by seeing dirty dishes or laundry that needs to be done. I close the door and sometimes turn a box fan on low to muffle the sounds outside the room for a little peace and quiet.

This is my desk (a small adjustable table from Sam’s). I enjoy this little spot with a view out the window.

I knew I wanted to use the lamp somewhere in this room. As soon as Buddy hears me open the door he runs in to get in the window.

I wish I had taken a picture of the shade before I painted it! I thought I had. It was the right size and shape but printed with a floral pattern that didn’t match the room. It was just $2 at the same thrift store.

I had seen painted lamp shades online, and the shade was fabric, so I felt it would accept paint well.

Initially, I planned to paint it a solid color. As I kept looking at the colors in the curtain to match it, I decided to try to duplicate one of the flowers in the curtain (which is actually a shower curtain from T J Maxx). If it didn’t turn out in a way I was happy with, I would just paint over it again.

This is the curtain with the flower I was copying. I took a picture of it and looked at it while I was painting/copying the design.

First, I practiced drawing the flower on paper with markers.

Then I practiced the design with paints on card stock.

I first painted the shade a solid light gray then drew on the white flowers then filled them in. I used acrylic craft paints, Apple Barrel brand (50 cents each at Walmart). Some of the colors required a little mixing to get the shade I wanted to match the colors in the curtain.

I’m happy with how it turned out. I may add more flowers with a little yellow later, or some little flourishes.

A friend who enjoys painting advised me to stop while I was happy with it and wait a couple of days to decide whether to add more to the design. I decided to take her advice. If I make any changes later I will share those too.

I hope to finish some some other projects for this room to share soon. I’m enjoying that the summer gives me extra time to work on house projects.

What are you working on? Hope you’re having a great summer!


We Are All Designed to be Creative~ My Recent Trash to Treasure and Ceramic Projects

I believe we were all meant to be creative in some way.  If you don’t think of yourself as creative, maybe you’re thinking of “creative” with too narrow a definition.  I haven’t always thought of myself as creative either, and there are some ways that I’m definitely not.

I say all the time I’m not the one you want to decorate for a party, because I mostly choose practicality and comfort over beauty and I simply don’t see the point of going to a lot of trouble.  Anybody with me? I’m just not frou-frou in that way.  But I have friends that are so good at that, so I ask for their help in this area.

YOU are designed to be creative, you just have to find your niche.

There are so many different ways that creativity could be expressed and sometimes it takes us a while to find what we like.  When I have time to pursue it, I enjoy being creative in a variety of ways.  If you aren’t sure yet what you like, just get to trying some stuff.

Everything I do is as inexpensively as possible.  If you’ve been reading my blog just a minute, you probably already know that about me.  You already know I love gardening and repurposing home decor in new ways.  Although I’ve been very focused on de-cluttering and paring down, before getting rid of an item I always evaluate if it could be reused in a new way or beautified with a little DIY.

I hope that in showing you the ways I fulfill that inner need for creativity and creating beauty for my home, it will stir up in you some ideas of ways you can do the same in your own life.

I had this ugly candle holder…

Y’all, don’t judge me for having owned this ugly thing in its original state.  It was ugly.   I picked it up years ago at a thrift store and knew it had hidden beauty.  I didn’t like it gold, but I wasn’t sure at the time what it needed.  I used it gold, then I added the little bit of green (sometimes the first time is a fail, keep tryin’) and then stuck it in a closet for a very long time and forgot about it.

See, it was ugly. I don’t know what I was thinking with the green. It’s like I tried the green and didn’t finish my thought? Who knows. But I’m happy with the way it turned out this time.

I saw it in the closet.  I had the idea to paint it in a way that I’ve been loving for a while now and then put some dried flowers in the candle holder instead of a candle.  Well, I ended up changing my mind about that, but I share that with you on purpose, so you can see that sometimes a project keeps evolving.

This is painted white, till all the gold is covered and before the creme wax. I think it took 3 coats. When adding these pics to the blog I realized that all the stuff on my kitchen table was in the background. #reallife at least at my house.

I already had the paint and wax on hand from a previous project and absolutely love this combination. I got these at either Wal-Mart or Michael’s, I think it was Michael’s.  They are just your ordinary acrylic paints.  Until recently, I had never used a wax over acrylic paint, but I love the effect.  The wax is sold right in the same display with the acrylic paints.

After covering the gold with the Warm White I applied the brown wax with a rag.  Instruction on the wax say to use a lint free rag.  I didn’t have a problem with lint, but I just used an old rag I had saved for cleaning that I knew it didn’t have any chemicals on it.  I quickly wiped the brown wax off, leaving just a little color.  You can see that there isn’t the exact same amount of brown all over, that was on purpose.  I then applied a coat of the clear wax.  Even with the 2 coats of wax (one brown, one clear) it doesn’t have a truly shiny appearance, which is just what I wanted.  It’s not perfectly flat/matte but also not shiny = perfection to me.

I love the candle holder as an addition to the mantle. The candle on top of it – it used to be in a jar and our cat, Bad Buddy knocked it off and broke it.  I saved the candle and now it has a new home.

I posted here about the plants growing in the water pitcher and bottles.  The “Family Gathers Here” was a gift from my son this past Christmas. The “be thankful” was a half price find at Hobby Lobby.  Years ago, the mantle itself was a project.  It was originally a natural wood color.  It didn’t contrast enough against the dark brick to suit me.   It looks a little more yellow here, but it is a shade of ivory with a yellow undertone and I used the same type of antiquing to add some dark shading.

Even a little bowl and some dead flowers can add beauty.

Dead flowers, dried flowers, are they kinda the same thing?  Well I decided to use some flowers from a vase that had died/uh dried.

Jordan (my oldest) had given these mini carnations in a vase to Jessie at her pageant recently.  When they died I thought they were too pretty to throw them away.  Initially, I planned to put them atop the candle holder, but it turns out they weren’t quite right there.  I just snipped the blooms off and put them in this little white bowl.

I love the pretty detail on this little white bowl so I had to show it up close.  I found this little pretty at Tuesday Morning on clearance.  Less than $2, maybe $1.  I had seen little bowls of this type used to corral small items on a desk (paper clips etc.) and bought 2 of them.  I knew at least one would be used on my desk.  It could also be used for bobby pins, etc in a bathroom or rings/jewelry in a kitchen.  I bought 2 knowing they could and would be used all over my house at different times.

That first time I painted something at ceramics:

Our Down syndrome group, FRIENDS, had a mom’s night out recently where I got to try painting ceramics for the first time.  We went to You Never Know Ceramics.  If your project will come in contact with food you use glaze paints, and it needs to have 3 coats. If your project won’t be used for food you can paint it just once and they will seal it before you leave and can take it home with you. There is a variety of items to choose from starting as low as $5.

The cost for this good-sized platter was $20, including all needed supplies.  They had books with ideas and patterns you could use.  I traced this daisy pattern onto the platter using carbon paper (they provided everything) and then painted it and left it to be fired for a second time.

It was such a relaxing time just visiting with the other mamas as we all painted our projects.  There are imperfections, you can see where some of the black got smeared a little, but I’m still proud of it and can’t wait to use my platter for the first time.  I love daisies and will probably add some other pieces that can be used together.  I look forward to going back with moms again and also want to take Jessie with me sometime.

Okay, so you’ve seen my creative projects.  What can YOU do that will lower your stress level and add a little beauty to your home?  Got something ugly (like my sad candle holder) that needs a little beautifying?

Whether you know you’re creative or think you aren’t,  I hope you’ll find just the thing.  In every season of life, and parenting, what we have time for and can afford is different, but there is always at least a little something we can do.

If you have a friend that might be inspired by this post, it won’t hurt my feelings if you share <3

Till next week friends,


What’s Going On In The Garden (And What I’ve Learned)

This year Jessie’s baseball season is starting later than usual.  This has allowed me to have more time working in the garden and the yard. Jessie hasn’t been happy about the delay but I have been gratefully soaking up every minute I can of this beautiful spring weather before it’s crazy south Alabama hot.

Each spring for the last 5 years I’ve done a small vegetable garden. Each year I keep wondering will this be the year I tell the hubby he has to build me a raised bed?

The first year I planted in containers and the containers were on my back deck. The deck gets too hot to walk on with bare feet and I wondered if their location was why it didn’t do as well as I hoped.

For the last few years I’ve planted in the ground.  Since my prenancy with baby #2 (22 years ago!), I’ve had a sciatic nerve issue that flares up pretty regularly, and especially when I do a lot of bending. By the end of the summer garden, I always feel unsure if I can do it again.

I’m trying a couple of things that I hope will make my life easier (and my back less painful) by keeping the weeds down as the season goes on.

Newspaper/Paper Bags for Weed Control

This year I put down newspaper as a barrier for weeds.  When I ran out of newspaper a friend gave me lots of brown paper bags. This layer of newspaper or brown bags prevent weeds from getting sunshine and helps retain moisture in the soil. Here’s a link to read more.

The layer of paper will break down over time and disintegrate into the soil (and that’s good for the soil) so the process will need to be repeated next year.

When I talked to an experienced gardener, he said either will help with weeds, but he prefers newspaper because of the way it breaks down.

Although you can put paper over existing weeds, I had pulled the weeds and then tilled the garden before I put newspaper down.  I’ve got my fingers crossed this is going to save my back some weed pulling.

After you put the papers down you cover it with a layer of soil.  I didn’t want to have to buy that much soil (I did buy some) so I raked some soil away, put down the papers, wet them really well and raked the soil back over to cover the newspaper/bags.

A Different Way of Fertilizing

The same experienced gardener mentioned above (that I’m convinced knows almost everything about everything in the garden!) told me how he fertilizes.

I had already bought a different fertilizer but after talking with Bob, I bought chicken manure compost and fertilized my vegetables the way he does.

Per his recommendation, I used a cup to distribute (he says a handful) of chicken manure compost around the base of my plants and then watered it in. He said as long as it doesn’t touch the leaves I’m good. This is not straight chicken manure, which is too “hot”, but chicken manure compost.

Chopped Leaves as a Mulch for both Moisture Retention and Help With Weed Control

I’ve been dissatisfied with the mulching options I’ve tried in past years.  Pine straw worked fairly well, but I had to use a lot and I was afraid I wouldn’t see a hidden snake.  I tried cypress mulch (it was on sale and I hadn’t researched it) but its prickly when planting or sitting on the ground for weed pulling and I just didn’t think it worked that well.

I read that chopped leaves was a good mulch and also FREE.  Because we have a pool and purposely don’t want to increase our work load there, we don’t have big trees of our own, just crepe myrtles.  But neighbors on one side have a row of trees beween our two yards.  My daughter also had leaves she had bagged so we got some from her and used the lawn mower to chop them all into smaller pieces.   If they’re too large that can cause a problem.  

What I Planted in the Garden

My humble and beloved garden. You can see the grass needs cutting. Y’all see it all. The good, the bad and the ugly 🙂
In the wheelbarrow are Calendula planted from seeds. I’ve wanted to plant something in this old wheelbarrow and can’t wait to see it full of blooms! I placed the wheelbarrow beside the garden to attract pollinators.

This year I went with less tomato plants overall but more varieties. Although I want the other vegetables too, tomatoes are my very favorite. I LOVE them. I bought 1 plant each: Better Boy, Pink Brandywine Heirloom and Homestead Heirloom. I also bought 2 Heirloom Spoon Tomatoes.  I’ve never seen or tasted them before.  Dothan Nurseries posted about them on facebook calling them the World’s Smallest Tomato. They shared a picture showing about 15 fitting in a tablespoon.  I was intrigued and had to try them.

I  planted several (don’t remember how many, 6 or 12?) squash plants and several bush (rather than vining) cucumber plants.

The last several years I’ve planted the small variety of pickling type cucumbers. They’ve done ok, but I haven’t gotten what I thought was a big harvest so I wanted to try a different variety and bush type were recommended to me.  I haven’t known anyone else in our area who grows the small cucumbers and I’ve wondered if they aren’t well suited to our insane summer heat.

I planted one jalapeño pepper plant, which I’ve never grown before, because I’m dreaming of some yummy salsa from homegrown tomatoes and jalapeños. I’m also planning to add cilantro to the garden soon for salsa making.

I added some flowers to the vegetable garden. Do you know why?

At times, my cucumber plants have had many blossoms that don’t become cucumbers. I read that sometimes this is a pollination problem. So, I added two lantana plants to my garden, one on each side, to attract pollinators. I transplanted them from other places in the yard before they started to bloom so neither are blooming just yet. I fertilized them and hope they will soon.

Having learned that marigolds have a scent some pests don’t like,  I hoped that planting some near my tomatoes would help keep pests off of them. I’ve been trying not to resort to using chemical pesticides (and haven’t so far) but bugs have been a big problem with my tomatoes every year. After I planted the marigolds, I learned I probably didn’t have enough of them planted to be a big help. I still think they are a pretty addition to my garden and I notice them every day.

I don’t think marigolds, in general, are pretty. I  had never seen this cream color before and I really took a liking to them. I found these at Dothan Nurseries. I’ve not ever noticed them before at other places where I shop for plants. Dothan Nurseries does seem to have some pretties that I don’t see everywhere else.

New Flowers I Planted This Spring

Last year I wrote in Just Start, how I started a flower bed in my back yard and how I built my flower garden frugally by adding a plant or two at a time.

This spring I’ve added a “Darling Daisy”. Twice before I’ve bought one of these off a clearance rack and they didn’t make it. This time I bought a regularly priced healthy plant and made sure I added some good soil to the planting hole and it’s doing well.

I love all daisies! I’m loving seeing this new addition each time I water the flower garden and when I enjoy my coffee outside in the mornings.

I went to Lowe’s with the hubby for some other man-purpose and although in a hurry, I found this verbena on the clearance rack for $1.00. I knew it had to go home with me. It’s an annual and I won’t spend a lot on annuals, but $1 fits the I’m-poor-cause-I -owe-the IRS- budget. I just transplanted it last night so it will look fuller and healthier soon.

Flowers For My Shady Spots

I love having something flowering on the front porch but it doesn’t get any direct sunlight. Last year impatiens did well there so I’m going with those again. Begonias have done well on my porch too, but this year I’m feeling impatiens.

I bought a six pack for 1.98. Four of them went in a planter for the front porch. I planted two in individual pots for the table on the pool deck that is shaded by an umbrella. Part of the day this area gets direct sunlight and it may be too much for them. I’m going to try them there and move them to a better location if it’s too much direct sunlight.

These impatiens were just transplanted the day before this photo. They will fill out soon and cover all (or most) the space in each pot.

I want a lot of bang for my buck.

I mostly plant perennials (plants that come back every year) to be frugal and not to have to replant everything each year. Some perennials will also spread, or seed new plants that will give you plants you can move elsewhere in your yard or to share. Most of the flowering perennials seem to need full sun.

I usually plant just a couple of annuals (plants that don’t come back, when they die, they die) each year.

The impatiens I bought are beautiful color, inexpensive annuals and give me blooms in the areas where I can’t grow a flowering perennial.

For $1.98, the impatiens are a lot of bang for my buck. Two separate areas have flowers in 3 separate pots. $1.98 folks. That’s as frugal as it gets.

That’s what’s new this year

I’m so hopeful that the paper, leaves, and chicken manure compost will have a favorable outcome for my garden. I get so excited when I see the plants growing and look forward to picking anything that grows there.I’m convinced that watching something you’ve planted live and grow is just plain good for the soul.

Hope you’re having a wonderful spring! I would love for you to share pictures of your vegetable gardens or flower beds in the comments.

Till next week,


February Progress: Decluttering and Organizing

My hope is that sharing my progress, slow but steady, while using very little money, will encourage you in your own goals for your home.  Sharing my progress helps keep me motivated too!

I wrote that I wanted to declutter and organize my home this year, but Jay and I have some hefty goals for getting the outside of our home in shape too, so I’m including that progress in my updates. Our backyard has something in common with Sanford and Son if you know who that is.

In documenting my progress, each step alone is small, but it all adds up! Don’t be discouraged if your changes seem small at first; it’s progress!

I’ve often been discouraged by the Pinterest worthy organization shared online, in magazines, or on tv, because to achieve beautiful organization they had to spend more than I can afford to.  What I will share is not  like that.

It helps with motivation if you have a friend to share your projects and progress with. I have a couple of friends that we regularly share what we’re working on around our homes.  I find that so helpful.

I would love for you to comment here and share pictures about YOUR projects and progress! We can encourage and help each other!

Ok, February progress:

Reorganized Spice Cabinet

I reorganized my spice cabinet. I recently put all my “regular” (as in one ingredient) spices in alphabetical order. Those are on the left side of the bottom shelf. Before they were alphabetical, I had accumulated some duplicates because I couldn’t easily tell what I had. I kept the freshest and threw away duplicates. On the right side: mixes, like taco seasoning, fajita seasoning etc.

The ones too y’all to fit on the 3 tiered spice shelf (I purposely don’t buy most of them this big!) sit on the shelf above. Salt and pepper refills and baking soda and powder etc on the lazy susan.

Top shelf is for canning jars etc and I didn’t have to change anything there.

Went Through and Reorganized my Dresser

This was quick and easy because there wasn’t much to get rid of. But I did add a few things to the donation box and re-fold everything neatly.

Umm, you can see on top of the dresser there is still decluttering to do. This is in the back of my closet.

You can see the drawers aren’t over stuffed. They aren’t even full. This makes me really happy! A lot of my clothes hang up because we have more hanging space but I’ve also gotten so much better at not keeping things I don’t wear and I don’t buy more than I need.

Started Organizing My Earrings

Y’all, I love earrings. A friend of mine said she had never seen so many. The box with dividers I’ve been storing them in won’t hold them all so I’ve started moving some to another system where I can see them better. I bought the hanging storage bag at Ross or TJ Maxx for $4.99. I noticed afterward though that they have some on Amazon with pockets on both sides.

You can see I’ve still got work to do here 😊. Divided jewelry box on the left still has to be gone through. I will keep most of them and keep the ones with a post in the divided box. In my defense; they’re small and don’t take up much space!

I do love some ear-rangs.

Collected A Box of Donations

I keep a box at all times for donations and over the course of the last month have filled it with one or two items here and there. It’s added up to a full box in a month.

Outside Projects

I’m including in this month’s progress some outdoor projects.  Although some of the work would be considered routine maintenance, much of it isn’t.  Jay and I are taking advantage of our beautiful spring- like perfect yard work weather before it gets blazing hot, which will happen in a flash.

In defense of the before outdoor pictures–as well as some that are excuses, we’ve had legitimate issues that have caused us to get so far behind.  A wedding, plantar fasciitis (me), sciatic pain (me) bad knee (Jay) lack of well-working equipment or not having the things we need (like a chainsaw) and then knee replacement and recovery for Jay, in addition to some hoarder-ish tendencies….things around here got pretty out of shape outside.

On President’s day weekend, Jay and I worked on Saturday and Monday on some outdoor project goals. There is still much to be done, but we accomplished a lot.  We had the sore muscles to prove it.  We were popping Tylenol, Ibuprofen and using Icy Hot for a couple of days after 🙂

The normal stuff:  We trimmed bushes (still more to do there), he chainsawed down some small trees that had appeared in our shrubs and grew tall when we didn’t own a chainsaw.

The blinds are the cheap plastic kind. I had recently bought new ones and Bad Buddy broke them within a couple of weeks. Gotta invest in some better blinds like we have in some other rooms of the house.

I thought I had taken a before picture. This oleander (one that looks like sticks now)  was as tall as the house when we got started.  We didn’t get to the other bushes yet, our gas powered hedge trimmers wouldn’t work.  So discouraging when you have equipment failures that slow progress which always seems to happen.  Jay is working on the hedge trimmers, but for today’s progress he used limb loppers and the chain saw to tame this beast of an oleander.  They’re so pretty when we see them at the beach, but they grow so fast and it’s a lot of work to keep them under control.  Jay wants to pull them up.  I’m holding him off for now.

Got all the shrubs in front trimmed. I love the tea olive on the right, smells so good. It had gotten so out of control, it looks so much better!

The outside the norm stuff:  I didn’t take a before pic, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell really anyway because of the leaves.  Our privacy fence had fallen down.  There were sections of fence on the ground.  Some of them were heavy, and still attached to posts.   Others were rotten so they fell apart and had to be removed in smaller pieces.  A tree from our neighbor’s yard had fallen into ours and the owner (rents the house but it’s currently empty) had not taken care of it.  Jay and Evan had cut up and removed some of the tree and left behind some we might use as fire wood.  It isn’t “good” wood and we don’t have a way to stack/store it well so we hauled it to the street rather than cut grass around it all summer.

After two days of serious work,  we had a huge pile by the street for pick up.

I didn’t crop out the house so you would get an idea of scale. The pile was nearly as tall as me! The fencing and logs are under the bush trimmings and trees.

This was a serious workout and it felt so good to get these things done.

Although I always wish the progress was faster, we’ve made steps in the right direction this month and I’m going to be content with that.

I do hope you’ll share your goals, projects and pictures so that we can celebrate and encourage one another!

Till next week,


Want to Join me in my De-Cluttering/Organizing Goal?

It’s not spring; but I’m obsessively organizing!  I’m determined this is THE year.

Are any of you like me, continuously frustrated with stuff that seems to multiply when we sleep?  Any of you want to join me in this goal I’ve set for myself?  I’m determined that this year, by the end of the year I will have achieved a goal I’ve wished I could for a long time.

The shop outside is a whole nother beast, but by year end (really I hope by summer’s end, but I’m giving myself the whole year, in case):

  • All closets in my house will be orderly and well organized.
  • My stuff (in closets and storage areas) will fit in those designated spaces without any random stuff outside of those areas because there is too much to fit.
  • I no longer want to look around certain rooms with a feeling of annoyance at what feels like clutter to me.

To achieve this goal, we will need to :

  • Remain committed, not allow ourselves to forget how the clutter makes us feel, therefore making this a priority.
  • Although it’s a lot of work, keep in mind this won’t last forever.  Remember, we’re doing this by year end!
  • Be ruthless in getting rid of things that we don’t need, use or love.
  • Establish some guidelines to help our homes stay de-cluttered, not overflowing.

I used to have a hard time parting with things. I am married to someone who still really struggles with parting with things, although he’s definitely gotten much better!

I used to think the only risk was in getting rid of something I might regret.  I came to realize though KEEPING THINGS HAS A COST TOO.  I’m more willing to risk the possibility now that I might wish I had something I got rid of.  I love to look at clean spaces and that is worth a small risk.  Things we keep have to be cleaned or dusted or reorganized.  Again and again and again.  I’m so tired of that cycle.  There are much fewer things that make the cut these days.

It has taken me a long time to get to this point, but I’m much quicker to donate something that I have a small pang of worry that I’ll regret, rather than keep it.

If I’m not using it, I don’t want to dust it or wash it again.

I’ve gotten off to a good start, and the progress I’ve made is providing motivation to keep going.  So far I have:

Reorganized My Christmas Decorations

Okay, these items are stored in our outdoor shop, but I wanted to include them in my progress.  I’ve wanted to do this for YEARS  and finally did it.  After I donated a small bag of ornaments, I reorganized all of my Christmas decorations and labeled them.

In years past, Jay and Evan would bring all the green and red boxes from the rafters of the outdoor shop.  You can see this is a lot of boxes.  I would have to lift the lids to see what is in them, and because it takes more than one day to decorate inside and outside, I would have to look in all the boxes TOO many times to find what I was looking for.

The before! All the Christmas decorations spread out for for sorting/reorganizing, plus any other items that had been shoved in here from other places to have room for the spread we had out on Christmas Day. What a mess!

All the boxes, sorted and labeled for easy retrieval of what items I’m looking for.

Ah, and now I have my little table back. It was used for food set-up on Christmas Day. It’s my favorite spot to work on blog related stuff. This is one of my favorite places in my house. I’ve got this little corner just how I want it.

Until this year, when I have a spare bedroom for the first time, these boxes would be cluttering up my kitchen and living room until I was done with them.  This way, they can be put in another room out of my way and I can easily find the box I need at that time and leave the others stacked up till I’m ready for them.

Two Options of How to Label the Boxes

I listed on the front all the categories of items that are in the box.  I’m going to try this method.  If I add much to the Christmas decorations or need them organized differently,  I will try the second method, described below the pictures.

Alternate box labeling method: you label the box itself with 1, 2, 3, 4 etc and then keep a small notebook or card file. The card or page labeled #1 would list all the items in box #1 .

If what is stored in the boxes changes much this might be the easier way.  OR, if you wanted to look at your list and pull out from storage only certain items this is a good way to go.

Done a TON of Work in my Closet 

I’m not 100% satisfied with the state of my closet, but I’ve put in a lot of work and it’s much closer to my end goal.  I will share pictures when it’s finished.  There’s still a couple of things I’m unsure of how to best store, and I didn’t get to the corner that has our Christmas boxes, ribbons and wrapping supplies.

One reason our closet is such a big job is for years it has been a catch all for stuff we didn’t have room for elsewhere.  We have board games, boxes (from purchases, like iPhones, Kindle’s, laptop) extra blankets, gifts purchased in advance, a box for donations, Christmas wrapping supplies, a large box of frames and decorative things not currently used, and memorabilia in addition to the “normal” closet stuff.  No matter how much I clean it, seems like before I know it, we’ve accumulated a bunch of stuff in there again.  I’m working now not only to declutter and organize what is there, but to stop the flow coming in.

With the exception of the small corner I didn’t get to, everything was pulled from the walls and I vacuumed crevices, dusted baseboards and any walls that needed it. Every game box and stored item was wiped with a damp cloth. Y’all, that alone was a pretty big job with lots of ups and downs on the step stool. The sore muscles I experienced the next day were a felt reminder of a job well done.

I worked a couple of hours on one day just getting rid of things, making quick decisions about clothing and items easier to part with.  The 2nd work day I spent the entire day cleaning, reorganizing, washing blankets and the baby clothes I mention in a paragraph below.  AFTER I had gone through the first time, on the 2nd day I had 3 boxes of donations and 2 bags of items I threw away.

This is my back seat loaded up with donations after the 2nd time going through my closet!

I Sorted Through the Linen Closet (except for the shelf with medicine that still needs to be done)

I got rid of a few things and washed almost everything that remained in here.  If it had been used recently, I didn’t, but all others got washed.  No more dusty/musty smell.

This closet houses the bed linens for all beds except mine, I keep those in a closet in our bathroom. We also keep the medicines that aren’t used regularly, and first aid supplies on a shelf here. That shelf still needs reorganizing.

Several years ago I read this tip and it’s right up my label-maker-loving alley! All the sheets on this shelf are full size. Another shelf for twin. If you have fewer you could keep them on the same shelf and just label under each. This is a time saver when you’re looking for a particular item. And, I just love how it makes me feel when I see those labels. It makes me feel a bit more organized whether it’s true or not.

As I Organize and Clean Closets I’m Washing any Dusty/Musty Smelling Items

The blankets stored in my closet and the linen closet smelled dusty/musty so I washed them with a 1 1/3 cup of vinegar in the wash water and then used a good smelling liquid softener in the final rinse.

Those Few Pieces of Sentimental Clothing Items From Each of My Kids

Over the years I had pared down and pared down until I have just a small amount of clothing items from all 3 kids. And the blankets that were special to me (they never cared a lick for blankets or stuffed animals!).

These items have hung in different closets in our home, moved from room to room over the last several years.  I took them off the hangers, treated the stains that had bled back through and packed them all up together in a clear comforter bag. Did you know that “old” stains that have been cleaned will bleed back through over time? Most of stains came out but there were 3 or 4 items that I didn’t put in the dryer because they need to be treated again.

On hangers, these items were taking up prime real estate space in my closet.  Stored in a comforter bag (and this is for all 3 kids so I think this is pretty good!) I can find a better place to put them.

Some of the Things I’ve Held onto in the past that didn’t make the cut this time:

  • I had saved some pillows and had planned to reuse the insides and make new covers. They had been in my closet long enough to be dusty/musty smelling.  It made me sad, but I threw them away.
  • Pretty bags I like but don’t love. I realized that I never chose those bags anymore. Although I liked them, I have others I like more. Pretty bags (I really do use them!) are a real weakness for me.

Our homes are continual works in progress.  I will never reach the point I think my house is perfect, I know that.  Something will always need doing, cleaning, organizing, freshening up with decor. I will never feel like I’m finished.

But, I am determined that there will be LESS to clean, LESS to reorganize and I know that some empty cleared spaces will feel so good to me.

What do you think?  Is this YOUR year to reduce and declutter?  Let’s do this together!

Hope you’re having a great week!