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Oh Valentine!

9 Feb

I don’t go wild with Valentine’s decorations but I do a few things to bring some pink and red into my home.

I made a bunch of these yarn hearts with my daughter Charlotte last year. We had fun and they were easy. Here’s a link if you’re interested. I hung them on my hideous fireplace with fishing line.

I found these antique silhouettes years ago at the Walnut Antiques Fair. I was holding them back thinking I wanted to change out the frames, but I think they look kinda sweet “as is” on my piano.

I also changed the candles in my hanging candelabra ($1 find at an estate sale) to pink.

“Asabelle” (Charlotte named her) got a warm but springy scarf (oh and those furry two have been keeping me on my toes lately too).

And food also makes for a fun decoration during February.

Sometimes holiday decorations make me feel like a frustrated grade school teacher, but changing up my home decor helps to brighten the long days of winter. Am I the only one who feels this way?

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A Bold and Brilliant Move

31 Jan

All hail JC Penney! The large retailer announced that as of tomorrow it will be “permanently marking down all of its merchandise by at least 40 percent so shoppers will no longer have to wait for a sale to get the lowest prices in its stores.” This is what the AP reported on January 25. Well, I say, good for them!

Whether you like JC Penney or think they stink, you must appreciate this bold marketing move.

Since the economy tanked a few years ago, retailers have conditioned us into coupon shopping and waiting for “the big one!” (yeah, you, Younkers and Nebraska Furniture Mart). I’m sick of it!

I went shopping this past weekend for my daughter’s seventh birthday and was irritated that I didn’t have an Old Navy or Gap coupon stashed away in my purse. Should I wait for the mail to come to see if Gap was going to send something? Should I see if I can print something off online? I know they don’t mean to charge $36 for a pair of little girls’ 6x jeans. They’re the Gap. They have marked them up knowing that most shoppers will wait for the sale or use a coupon.

If you think you haven’t been affected, think about the last time you bought something at Bed, Bath & Beyond without one of its “never expiring” coupons. Don’t you feel like a mouse in a maze?

I hope this move saves JC Penney. I really do. For the record, I like them. They have some great Pottery Barn-esque home items specifically in their lighting department, and my favorite (ok, only) skinny jeans are from there. JC Penney is a classic that has been around a long time.

I mean think about it . . . can’t you recall poring over the big ol’ catalog in the 1970s, dog-earring your Christmas gifts, or looking at the Men’s underwear pages and giggling? I can.

Can’t pass by

23 Jan

I’ve been thrifting a lot lately. It’s something my almost-four-year-old and I do on our afternoons together. He’s a good companion and surprisingly patient throughout these adventures. He likes to look at all the schtuff (as I call it) too, and if he picks something up, I don’t get stressed because most of it is less than $5.

After years of antiquing, I see things at these thrift stores that I can’t pass by. I KNOW it’s worth more than what they are asking. This could get bad, though. Yes, I found a chair for $6 that I found on ebay for $130,  but I can’t do that every time. I don’t have the storage space and I don’t want to keep something just because it was a smokin’ deal. But what’s a girl to do?

I heard milk glass was really hot right now. Brides love it! I think Martha did a segment about Milk Glass Weddings. The things that look like open-bottomed vases are actually milk glass shades that would look awesome hanging over a breakfast bar or island. They were 99 cents each. How can I leave them? Some other wannabe thrift blogger like myself will just snatch them up if I don’t!

And this ironstone platter. It’s only about 8″ long but it’s solid and heavy and I’ve been watching my friend Cathy buy these for years. I had to grab it for $1 in her honor, right?

And enamelware? Can’t, can’t pass it by. My mom still uses her enamelware double-boiler and I’ve always had a soft spot for anything with red. I used the bowl for my Christmas centerpiece and just found this covered pot last week.

And these little plates were adorable. They look Art Deco, I thought. They are only 6″ in diameter but the design is so cute. I actually had a  store in town in mind when I picked these up. I guess I have dreams of being a “picker” . . .

And this was my most extreme purchase but again I think it’s worth a ton more than the $20 I paid.

It’s actually about 10.5 inches tall with an open bottom. Again, I think it’s Art Deco in design and it looks like Milk Glass. People love vintage light fixtures, and it’s cool. But what do I do with it? I asked the store if they wanted it (that and the milk glass), but they “passed.” There goes my dreams of being a picker.

What do I do with all of this stuff? I don’t have the time right now to open an Etsy store? I love the idea but that’s a lot of work in terms of photography, marketing, shipping, etc.

My friend Steve has an antique booth that I could piggyback on probably, although his taste is decidedly more primitive. He says he can always use “smalls,” an antiquer’s word for little things, not furniture or anything big. So I guess I’ll give that a try.

What about you? Is there anything you can’t pass by?

My Best Deal Yet

17 Jan

I’ve had Puppy Fever for a few months now. Our 11-year-old Cockapoo, Phoebe, is still healthy and rules the house, but she can be crotchety (a terrible but befitting word).

This was several years ago but one of my favorite photos.

I love dogs and figured my three-year-old son could use a puppy to grow with. Plus I’d heard good things about adding a second dog–enlivens the original dog, the older one shows the younger one the ropes, they become pals.

I’ve been checking our Humane Society website every day–twice a day typically, because the dogs get adopted so quickly. When I started this process in August, there was a really mangy looking Wheaten Terrier mix on there, and I went to the Humane Society to check him out. They didn’t have much information on him but knew he was about 10 months old.

This isn't him but close.

Source

That was the type of dog I was looking for (I thought) but he was a little big already and wild and it was a Friday. I decided to wait, knowing that he would probably get adopted over the weekend (the non-shedding/non-Lab/non-Pit Bulls usually do). But it was the very beginning of my search and I figured if he were still there on Monday, I’d go back and get him.

He wasn’t, so I kept looking and researching other dogs that might fit what I was looking for. I explored the Wheaten Rescue in our area but they wouldn’t adopt to a family with children younger than six. Red Flag. The more I researched that breed the more I learned that maybe the Wheaten wasn’t for us. They can be territorial with young children, and that was definitely not what I wanted.

A man at my husband’s work suggested the Tibetan Terrier.

You can keep their hair short, which I would.

Source

It’s not really a terrier at all but a medium-sized dog that was originally bred as mountain dogs by monks in Tibet. I did some more research on them and agreed they sounded like a good dog for us. Between 18 – 30 lbs and non-shedding plus good with kids and quirky. We found this guy at a breeder in Missouri.

Hard to resist, isn't he?

But he was $600 and at a home with A LOT of other puppies so I was concerned that it was a puppy mill situation. Most of the breeders I researched were charging between $1200 and $1800 for their puppies, so again the red flag.

Another possibility was a Portuguese Water Dog.

They're cute, huh?

Source

This breed was made really popular in the last few years once the Obamas added their boy, Bo, to the White House. My research showed that this was a good choice though, although the price was still steep at around $15oo for most breeders. The size was right–typically between 35 and 60 lbs and non-shedding. I wanted a “bigger” dog this time for a few reasons–a walking partner for me, someone to romp around the backyard with the kids, and a dog big enough that I would be encouraged to keep him off of the furniture. Phoebe is ruining my I-paid-too-much-but-thought-Ethan-Allen-was-closing-for-good-sofa and you know, old dogs/new tricks and all.

Anyway, a few days before Christmas and about 20 hours after I had said to my husband “Eventually, I think I’ll find the right dog at the Humane Society,” this guy showed up online. He was listed as a Portuguese Water Dog Mix.

What a face, right?

It was about 10:30 in the morning when I saw him on the website. I walked out of work and drove straight to the Humane Society. When they went to get him I heard one of the workers saying, “I don’t think that’s a Portuguese Water Dog.” So I yelled out to them, “Well, what do you think it is then?” (I didn’t want this to be the ol’ bait and switch.) But they didn’t know. They just didn’t think there were many in our area, much less one who would be wandering around in the country, like this guy was.

Carol, the Humane Society volunteer who brought him to me, speculated with me on the real breed. She didn’t know either but thought the markings looked like a PWD (although after a little research, I find that most PWDs are black with a little white. He’s white with a little black.) And she assured me she thought his coat felt more hairlike than fur-like (meaning a non-shedder), although she said, “Don’t hold me to it.” And we both agreed that his paws didn’t look too big, so he didn’t appear to be “a big dog.”

So I paid my $350 adoption fee, named him Furble (a name my daughter had invented when we started our puppy search,) brought him home, and he was an early Christmas surprise from Santa. The note said something about him not staying still in the sled.

My husband and I were more excited about him than the kids, but I’d been searching for six months so it felt meant to be.

Not sure what kind of look the boy has on his face here but concentrate on the puppy.

The neighbors came over the next night for a little Holiday Cheer, and they all predicted on paper what they thought Furble would weigh a year from now. Thoughts ranged from 35 lbs and a non-shedder to 110 lbs and shedding!

Three weeks, six painful days of diarrhea, one respiratory infection, three prescription drugs, two bags of prescription dog food, a day’s worth of IV fluids, and, oh yeah, the rush of Christmas, New Year’s and 17 days of no school, and Furble seems right at home. I truly think his illness was stress. God knows I was stressed! I still think he was a bargain.

It snowed the other afternoon and he and Phoebe romped around the yard a ton. The kids are really enjoying him. He’s doing pretty well at the kennel thing, and I’m eager for his little bladder to get a little bigger, but he does seem to “get it.”

As for his size . . . he’s doubled probably (I’ll post updated photos soon). Breed speculations range from my husband who says he’s a Tibetan Terrier/Portuguese Water Dog mix (forever the optimist). I say he’s got some BIG ol’ dog in him. His head seems abnormally large at this point, and I often think he looks like a Newfoundland. I’ve heard Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard, Poodle, you name it. Whatever he is, we’re enjoying him. As for his fur and size, only time will tell.

I don’t see him returning to the North Pole anytime soon.

Home Goals 2012

10 Jan

The Nester, one of my absolute favorites, is hosting a Home Goals Linky Party this week and so it’s the perfect time for me to lay out some of my plans for this year. I created a similar list last year . . . projects I wanted to get done. I put it on the fridge so I could cross things out as I went but mainly so I could stay on task. I tend to get a little ADD when it comes to DIY. I’ll start some project and then see something else that I think is a great idea so then start something else. Writing things down helps to keep me accountable.

So here it is. By the end of May (some perfect cold-weather tasks), I would like to have my Dressing Room complete. I love this room. I spend a lot of time in it, but if I want to be featured on that last page of Better Homes and Gardens,  you know the “I did it!” page (a little goal of mine), it needs some serious work, starting with this ottoman.

At 4′ x 4′, the size is awesome and it’s totally functional (meaning strewn with several items of clothing on most days) but the fabric is dreary and it only reinforces how dreary that rug is (a remnant from the basement). They both need to be changed. So, I’ll be on the lookout for a bright and feminine rug or maybe an animal print and fabric for this ottoman–lately I’ve been thinking a pretty yellow velveteen or something. I was going to do the animal print on the ottoman. In fact, it’s why I bought the giraffe print that became this, but again, that ADD set in and I went another route. Plus I thought it might look like a big ol’ cow or something in the middle of the room. Anyway, I’m also determining if I’m going to try to take on the reupholstering (a major feat) or budget for someone else to do it. Stay tuned!

Next item, those closet doors! (please read “Those closet doors!” with the same emphasis as the stepsisters in Cinderella do when they talk about “These beads! That sash! Why I wouldn’t be caught dead in them!”) Wait, I’m checking YouTube . . . a quick search and I can’t find it (I can find where they rip the sash and beads off of Cinderella but not the one where they discard them in the first place–the bitches). Anyway, these closet doors are deplorable. What is this wood?

It’s hideous and it needs to be covered. I’ve got a couple thoughts on that. I loved, loved what Kevin and Layla did on The Lettered Cottage. Amazing! But mine are sliders and I kinda want to work with what I have, although I desperately need a full-length mirror in there. I have no good full-length mirror in my house (perhaps that’s why I still have this extreme self-confidence thing going). Anyway, I was thinking about wallpapering them, and my friend told me about something with fabric and starch that she saw on The Nate Berkus Show (which I don’t watch but clearly need to start). I need to find out more about that.

And obviously the whole room and TRIM need to be painted. Also deplorable.

But here is the last project I have in mind. I’m excited about this one because I think these are awesome and should make for a pretty easy DIY. I saw this in the Ballard Design Catalog and thought it would be perfect for my Dressing Room. I love the taller spaces for boots.

The shorter one is $360 and the taller one is $600. I found this little wood bookshelf on Craigslist. The listing was “Orange painted book shelf – $10.” Sold!

It’s ugly but it’s solid.

So that’s it. I’m not going any further than May right now. I definitely have more projects in mind, most of which involve contractors, so I’m sticking with what’s attainable at the moment. Small chunks, right?

How about you? Any home projects on your horizon?

Festive Centerpieces

13 Dec

My friend Stacey turned me on to these lanterns at ShopKo.

They had some great red ones in their holiday decor and then these in the everyday decor section. ShopKo is not typically known for its design aesthetic but these were solid and had nice shapes and great prices at $14.99 each.

I had recently acquired an enamalware bowl at Goodwill for $4 and wanted to incorporate it into my Christmas decor. I combined it with one of the red lanterns, a Christmas napkin and leftover fake greenery and was proud of the results.

Several months back I had sent my kids and the neighbor kids on a pine cone hunt because I hate to think of purchasing pine cones when they’re in ready supply around the neighborhood. The kids had a riot and I got a bagful that made for festive filler in this centerpiece.

Putting this together inspired gift ideas for my hard-t0-buy-for-step-sister and my mom. I found some more baskets at Goodwill that would make for good bases.

I tried to get rectangular- or oval-shaped baskets to serve as the bases because the lanterns were bigger and I wanted to incorporate some live Poinsettias. These baskets are pretty easy to find at thrift stores and run about $4 each. Stacey also told me about ShopKo’s faux candles at half-price so I picked up some of those.

I had to build up the base because I wanted the piece to have some varying heights. I used whatever I had around–some floral foam in one and a box, styrofoam and newspaper in the other.

The Poinsettias were the four-inch pots from Home Depot at $3.99 each. I did two in each centerpiece and filled in the rest with pine cones.

Phoebe, the Cockapoo, approved.

Definitely liked the more natural glow on the pine cone candle below but it wouldn’t fit into this more slender lantern.

We celebrated our Christmas with this part of the family this past weekend and my stepsister and mom were thrilled with my creations. They both had future entertaining in their holiday schedule and were excited to have these inviting pieces as part of their tables.

Dish Towels – A Practical Gift

11 Dec

I’ve been called practical. I hope that’s not code for cheap . . . thrifty maybe. Smart, I’d like to think. Whatever it is, with practicality in mind, I like to give gifts that serve a little purpose. I like to think that when people use their gift from me, they think, “Gosh that Stacy, she’s so clever.”

So, I love a good dish towel. I really like dish towels from Williams-Sonoma. They come in good colors, and they last forever. (PS – Now that my husband and I have hit the 10-year mark in our marriage, I often think about those wedding gifts that have lasted long and my W-S stuff really has. For example that rattan stuff lasts FOREVER! I’ve been using my fruit basket as a fruit basket every day for 10 1/2 years and it still looks like new. It’s had its share of moldy fruit, onion skin and gunk but I can rinse it and it still looks great. Sorry . . . I digress.)

Around Thanksgiving, Williams-Sonoma puts their tableware, including dish towels, at 15 percent off. It’s not an amazing discount but it’s something.

I buy a pack to use for my teacher gifts. And I bake the only thing that I ever bake–Banana Bread.

I love to give Thanksgiving gifts for two reasons. One – It’s one less thing I have to do between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Two – I think it makes sense to give Thanksgiving gifts to people to whom you’re really thankful–like your kids’ teachers.

This year I got some really cute string to help with my holiday packaging.

I wrap the bread in plastic wrap and then wrap it in the towel.

For another idea, I wrapped the bottom of a Poinsettia in a towel for a recent house-warming gift.

I don’t know if anyone was making the Clever Stacy comments that I was imagining but I was pretty pleased with the results.