Friday, January 29, 2010

Staging Bookcases

This past week I had the opportunity to stage a home for a local realtor. It was an older home that had been lovingly cared for by an elderly couple. Sadly, the mother died, the father had to be placed in a nursing home, and the children had to sell the home. It was my job to make the house look it's best. There was a lot of work to do, so the homeowner's daughter and the realtor helped me and my helper with the staging.

I want to show you the "before and after" photos of the family room bookcases so you can see what a difference a few changes make.


(before)

Here in the before pics you can see a lot of books, many of them paperbacks. Because my helper and I were busy with the rest of the house, the homeowner's daughter and realtor actually did the physical work of staging the bookcases. I simply shouted orders from the front room and occasionally inspected.

First, I had them pack up all of the paperback books. Then I had them remove any items that did not go with the style or theme of the room (items like toys, old candles etc.) Then I asked them to line up similarly sized books, leaving some stacked on their sides. We made sure all book spines were lined up even with the edge of the shelves for a neater appearance. Lastly, I raided the rest of the house for simple items to fill in the empty spots.

(after)

Here is the final product. Of course we staged the rest of the room, decluttering as much as possible. So many people have plaid couches (including me) that are hard to decorate around. The best way to decorate around them is to simplify everything and use as little extra pattern as possible.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Window Seat Redo

Last week, for Monday Motivation, I listed my household to do list. Well, I've been working on my list and I'm almost done with my window seat redo. I recovered this seat 4 years ago when we moved into this house. I had to start with all new foam too, because the previous owner simply had too many cats. Enough said.

Red is my favorite color, especially deep cherry red. I've added it around my house but now I'm thinking I may have added too much. So. . . the redo.

Here's the before picture. Cherry red diamond pattern back pillows, camel colored seat cushions, and my favorite Waverly red check throw pillows. Did you notice that my back pillows are actually bed pillows that I covered? They are the perfect size. I actually have them on my sofa too. They are the MOST comfortable pillows to lean against.


Here's the after. I'm not THRILLED yet. I like the softer colors, but it's lacking something. I just need to look at it for a bit and then I'll figure it out. The seat cushions are the same. A nice neutral color. The back cushions are a muted red with a muted turquoise. I'm not happy with the green and red throw pillows. I grabbed them from another room in the house. I'd love to add some of the deep turquoise color but I haven't found the right color yet.


I'd appreciate any fabulous ideas you may have. I never have a hard time picking colors for other's homes - just my own!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wrensday: Warm touches for a cold winter

I love adding warm touches around my home when the weather outside is frightful. I usually start with the mailbox.
Adding shiny things and clear glass adds a nice sparkle. A few candles here and there are lovely too.


A touch of the great outdoors allows you to enjoy nature without the cold air.


Go ahead and celebrate your cold weather warmer uppers. My creamy white gloves and scarf take a place of honor in the front foyer.



I love these plates with old fashioned snow scenes. A simple snowflake votive is a sweet touch.




Plenty of warm blankets and pillows scattered around continue the warming touch.











Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Craft Room Purge

I've been wanting to get ahold of my craft room for several weeks now. After the flurry of Christmas crafting and sewing I wasn't a very good little organizer and I left the area a bit disheveled. Below is a picture of what it looked like. The two book shelves were from our previous house and they fit perfectly behind the door in this small room. When we moved in, this room had pink shag carpet, pink (broken) mini blinds and mottled paneling. We ripped out the carpet and blinds, installed natural roman shades and last year I finally painted over the paneling. Much, much better.



My sewing table consists of an old file cabinet that I spray painted topped with an old dining table leaf that we found in our barn. I painted it too, of course.





Over the years I've collected rectangular baskets and containers. I've been using all of these containers for several years now and I was up for paring down my inventory.








One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was from my daughter. She ordered this apron for me with my company's name on it. It has nice, roomy pockets in the front that I can load up with supplies when I am helping my clients organize and stage their homes.






One of my favorite organizing tools actually belonged to my Grandmother. After her first stroke she gave me her collection of DMC floss because she knew her many years of doing needlework had come to an end. I could cry right now just thinking about her. She went home to glory quite a few years ago, but her crafting legacy lives on.




In this fishing tackle box, she stored almost every color DMC made at the time. She wrapped each color around a special tag and labeled it with the DMC number.






Sometimes I just like to open the case and look at all of the beautiful colors.






I've been using this thread for nearly every project I've worked on for the past 10 years.



Now, back to the purge. I spent around 4 hours on this project. At the end of the 4 hours I had - 2 bags of trash

- 1 bag of recycling

- 1 bag for the thrift store

- 1 bag for the craft cabinet at school

- and 1 bag of stamping supplies I'm saving for a future craft supply swap party.
- 2 extra boxes for other storage projects

Here's the finished product. The two large blue bins, top left, hold all of my quilting fabrics for baby quilts and leftover upholstery fabrics from previous projects. The clear bins, top right, hold felt, chunky stamps, beading supplies, sewing supplies, and yarn.




All of the supplies on the left book shelf are stamping and scrap booking supplies. I have other stamps in a fun storage area. Supplies on the right are sewing supplies. The bottom right shelf holds gift wrapping supplies and two boxes of small items for future gifting. Please forgive the mess between the two shelves. It is a 20 year old cardboard wrapping paper storage container. I tried to cover it with contact paper which was a very unsuccessful and tearful project. I'm looking for a better solution. I'll keep you posted.












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Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Motivation: Identify Energy Drainers

Do you feel like you're dragging? Tired all of the time? Wish you could spend the day in your jammies, curled up on the couch? Yeh, me too.

OK. Enough of that. Let's get down to some possible reasons behind the fatigue and some solutions for dealing with it. Ready?

1. Let's face it. The middle of winter is not the most pleasant time of the year. Daylight is hard to come by and the cold, wet weather chases us inside and away from the sunshine. Some people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) also known as the Winter Blues. Symptoms include excessive sleeping, depression, and craving sweets and carbs. Treatments can be special lamps that imitate sunlight, taking Vitamin D, and talking with a therapist. I find that trying to take a walk outside everyday helps with the mild symptoms I experience.

2. One out of five premenopaual women don't get enough iron in their diets. Without enough iron, you'll feel tired and have trouble concentrating. Don't take extra iron, though, until you've had your doctor run a blood test (serum ferritin test). Too much iron can be harmful as well.

3. Sleep deprivation effects many women. Lack of sleep combined with stress leads to many a melt-down. We just can't handle it all. If you've gotten into the habit of staying up late, gradually train your body to go to sleep by going to bed 15 minutes earlier every few weeks. After a few months you will have trained your body to sleep longer. Sleep time is when our body fixes things that are broken. Cells are renewed and refreshed.

4. Many women suffer from an undiagnosed under active thyroid. I struggled for years with a thyroid function that was within the low limits of normal. I finally found a doctor who understood the effects it was having on my body. After 6 months of being on a small dose supplement, I had lost 20 pounds and felt like I was back among the living.

5. I hope you don't think I'm meddling, but weight has a lot to do with your energy level. Carrying around extra weight puts strain on all of your body and makes you tired. Also, foods that contain sugar, white flour, caffeine etc. are messing with your metabolism. Diets that are too strict also sap your energy. The best route is a healthy diet that nourishes your body. When it's fed properly your body will most likely respond with a healthy weight.

6. Water, water, water. Sometimes I forget to drink during the day, especially in the winter. Dehydration can sap your strength and make you feel "foggy". Many times we think we feel hunger when really it is thirst. Try to drink a glass of water every few hours. Soda, coffee, and even my favorite "sweet tea" are not the best things for keeping you hydrated. Stick to water.

7. Every afternoon I start to slow down a bit. In fact if I sit down I will probably fall asleep. To remedy this, I often eat or drink something that contains mint. Peppermint has an uplifting quality. Even if I suck on a mint it helps me to perk up a bit. When I taught full time, I would put peppermint extract in a spray bottle with water and spray it around my classroom to help the children focus. They loved the smell of the "perky peppermint" spray.

8. A few of my friends suffer from auto immune diseases that effect their energy level. Research is being done to help alleviate the symptoms of these draining diseases. If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, MS, or other diseases you should keep up to date with the most current meds, supplements, and treatments to address your fatigue.

I know this post is a little "heavy" but I hope it will motivate you to check into any symptoms of fatigue you are experiencing. You have too much life to live to be dragged down by a sleepy body and mind. So now get a glass of water, two peppermint patties and call me in the morning.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall

A few days ago I showed you my guest bathroom that I painted and gussied up a bit. Well, one of the problems I had was what to do with the mirror. The previous owner left us the small mirror above the sink. It was charming in that it was hand made, stained glass with a nautical theme. Realistically, it was too small for the space and hung WAY too high (I could only see the top of my head in the reflection).

After a few days of checking out every store in the area, I finally found a mirror that was the right size. I needed a narrow mirror because the window trim invades the space above sink. I bought the mirror you see below. I found it at T.J. Maxx for around $20.00.

(The green plastic plate is the palate I use for my painting. )


Nice size - wrong color. But I wasn't worried because I have an arsenal of craft paint. I took my acrylic craft paint in silver and brushed it lightly over the gold areas. I let some of the gold peek through because I didn't want it to look too matchy-matchy with the other silver in the room. I didn't mind if it looked a little antique.






Because I wanted the dark background to still show through, I took a Q-tip and rubbed it into each groove around the mirror while the paint was still wet.





I'm pretty happy with the end product. Now I can see my whole face in the mirror. I wish it was a magic mirror that didn't show all of my wrinkles!





Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wrensday: Bowled Over Snowman

Isn't this the sweetest little snowman? I found him in a thrift store and I couldn't leave him there. He was begging to come home with me. Since I decorate with my snowmen until Valentine's Day, I obliged. Someone very creative made him with an old wooden bowl and a piece of a wooden post. I just love his little boots!





This is his new home. He likes to check things out on top of the pantry in the kitchen. I think those are his cousins next to him.



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No longer singing the blues

I'm done painting my bathroom. Again. Here's how it started out. White walls, cold, boring, and uninviting. I know, I know, hard wood floors, cobalt blue tub, and lots of light. Who wouldn't love it? Well, me. I felt like it didn't match the rest of our home. It was just a little too . . . too. . . I don't really know.


So I bought some paint. A lovely light blue paint. I was only going to paint one wall. The farthest wall. It looked good. I liked it. I liked it so much that I painted the rest of the walls and then I hated it. So I bought some more paint. A faint, almost blue, blue. I painted all of the walls except the accent wall. I still hated it. I didn't like the feeling I got when I walked into the room.

I decided to wait for a few days and maybe I would "grow" to love it. I didn't. I then realized that I was going in the wrong direction. I was not reading my home correctly. My home likes to be warm - not cool. It only likes warm tones. My blue was too cool, especially for the northwest side of the house.



So I bought some paint. I painted the walls a warm, almond color. I'm no longer singing the blues. Color me HAPPY!








Sunday, January 17, 2010

Monday Motivation: My household list


My daily planner is being put to good use. Being stuck in the house has made me a little stir crazy and my creative juices are going bonkers. I'm making lists of all of the things I want to do around my house this next year.

My daughter is getting married in our yard in October and I am eager to get the house projects done before then. My biggest project, remodeling the kitchen, won't be happening for a few more years so I'll just have to settle for what I can afford to do right now.

This week, as I was cleaning the house, I kept a notepad and pencil with me. As I came across different areas of my home that needed some help, I wrote it down. Then, I divided up the projects and WROTE them in my planner. Writing them down makes them a little more serious. Here are some of the tasks I wrote down:

Family Room
1. Make new pillows for window seat.
2. Organize CD's and videos.
3. Paint back surface of wall unit a lighter color.
4. Find side table for reading chair.

Kitchen
1. Rearrange space above cabinets.
2. Paint island and refinish top.
3. Put finish on brick floor.
4. Organize recipe binder (again).

Upstairs Bathroom
1. Paint walls.
2. Buy new soap dispenser.
3. Organize sink cabinet.
4. Re frame artwork.

I've already made new pillows for the window seat and I found an adorable table to go next to my reading chair. It feels great to check off my list and I know I'm making progress in my home. As soon as the weather starts to warm up, I'll walk around the yard and make a scheduled list for what to do outside.

I know myself well enough to know that if I don't write it down - it won't get done. What kind of projects can you write down and start to tackle?

Here's one of my favorite quotes:

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of
getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks
into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one."
Mark Twain


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Friday, January 15, 2010

Organizing Ribbon

I've been trying to organize my craft room/office. I guess organize isn't the right word. I've just been trying to put everything away where it belongs. I have a bad habit of pulling out supplies and not putting them away. I know, I know, I break my own rules! Well, anyway, this is a drawer unit the Hubs and I use as storage in the craft room/office. He has one drawer and I have the rest.
I want to show you how I store all of my ribbon. This, by no means, is the "best" way to store something as valuable as ribbon/string/trim. It is what works for me right now.


In the bottom of one of the biggest baskets, I have a plastic container that holds all of Oma Miller's vintage ric-rac and trims. I LOVE these vintage trims.


Then I sort all of the ribbons, by color, into ziploc bags. Because I have lot, I have to make sure to smoosh all of the air out of the bags so they will fit in the basket! The large bag on the right contains all of the trims that don't fit in a category. The bag on the bottom, second from the right, holds elastic. I keep any "glittery/sparkly" trim in their own separate bag.



I then put all of the bags into the basket and slide it into the unit. I don't store Christmas ribbon in this. I keep it with the Christmas wrappings.



In a future post I'll show you what is in the rest of the drawers. . . maybe.





Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sweet Gifts

I ran into a problem shortly before Christmas. I made batches of fudge and Martha Washington Creams (a yummy candy) to give as gifts to the teachers I work with. Well, neither the fudge nor the creams set up right. They were yummy, but not "gift worthy". Luckily my family is eager to devour anything chocolate, even if they have to do it with a spoon. I discovered the problem the night before I wanted to give the gifts so I had to come up with an emergency plan.

I quickly made a cute, stamped cocoa mug (out of paper) and put a package of hot chocolate mix in it. It was more of a card - less of a gift. I was disappointed because I had purchased some cute baskets from The Christmas Tree Shop in New England when I was helping out with my newest grandson. My daughter was eager to get out of the house, and what's a mother to do, but go along?!

Fast forward to the second week in January. I'm staring at the cute baskets in the craft room/office. I want to give them to the girls, but what to do? I scrounged around my supplies and found some snowflake fabric and my snowflake paper punch. This is what I came up with.
I started out by making a tag. I cut white and black paper into tag shapes, the white being a little smaller than the black. I punched a snowflake into the top of the white and a small hole in the top of the black.


I stamped "just for you" on the white tag and glued it to the black tag. I added some silver string through the snowflake so I can tie it to the basket.





Silver and gold candies complete the gift. I guess you could say it is "semi-homemade".






Now, what can I do with the little snowflakes that were punched out of the white paper. Confetti anyone?









Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wrensday: Warmed up mailbox

Remember these guys? They make me smile when ever I get the mail. But it's been cold around here and I was feeling bad for them. I knew my guy's head must be cold.




So I gave him a nice warm hat and scarf. I know he feels better now.




There ya go, little fella. Keep up the good work. I'll be back to see ya tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter centerpiece

Remember I told you I was ready for a fresh, peaceful decorating scheme? Well, I'm still on a roll. I took my Christmas centerpiece off my dining table and added a simple display.


First, I started with a silver tray I got as a wedding present 29 years ago.



I topped it with a new lantern my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas. It has a battery operated candle in it. So cute! I added a pewter candle stick with a grapevine napkin ring, a small clear glass votive holder, and a special framed picture. I love the framed picture. Up on a shelf, it can't be appreciated for it's beauty. It is a photo of the sun shining through the woods. Below the photo is a blessing and a verse. I've listed them below.

May God's love enfold you,
may His light surround you,
may His peace fill you and guide you on your way.
"The Lord bless thee and keep thee." Numbers 6:24



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Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Motivation: A few winter chores


Sometimes I'm so busy working on big projects that I forget about all of the little, mundane things that need to be done around my house. Trouble is, if you never get around to the little things - they become BIG things. And BIG things can be expensive. Yikes.

I've come up with a list of several things you might want to check on around your house before they become bigger problems.

1. Check your heating filters if you have them. They should be cleaned regularly so your heater runs efficiently.

2. Check your smoke detectors and CO2 detectors. Make sure they have fresh batteries and that they are plugged in. Fire fighters have made the sad discovery of people perishing in home fires because the batteries in the smoke detectors were unplugged.

3. Make sure that your outdoor faucets have covers on them. Most of us are experiencing extremely cold weather. That prolonged freezing weather can cause pipes to burst. These covers will keep your outside faucets from freezing.

4. Keep emergency supplies in your car. Pack a bag or a bin and keep it in your vehicle. It should contain: extra blankets, water, food, flashlight, flares. The evening news has been showing that some people have been trapped in their cars due to bad weather. God forbid you were ever caught in a blizzard, but at least you would have some supplies to help you survive. Better to have it and not need it.

5. Stock up for bad weather. Keep extra canned food, batteries, water, and medicine. If a bad storm hits and you can't leave your home or your power is out for a few days, you'll be glad you have supplies on hand.

Too much doom and gloom, you say? O.K. here's a few "fluff" ideas for winter tasks.

1. Go through your magazines and take out articles and pictures you would like to save. Recycle the rest.

2. Take a look at your coat closet. What items do you really wear? Remove any you aren't using and donate to charity.

3. Clean the inside of your kitchen window. If you have to look out at the frigid yard, at least you won't be looking through water drops and fingerprints.

4. Remove all items from the outside of your fridge and only replace half. (after wiping down the exterior with Sparkle Cleaner)

5. Add a doormat inside and outside every door in your home. It will help to keep down the drips and drops that come in with every visitor.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Why did I start this project?

I've started a project. It was supposed to be an easy peasy, quick as a wink project. But no. . . I had to make it a pain in my neck, 3 trips to Home Depot project. I've been a little bored with this bathroom's plain white walls. Sure, I've got great molding, an awesome cobalt blue claw foot tub, and beautiful wood floors. But, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I bought a quart of Misty Surf (pale blue) paint and desired to paint the farthest wall as an accent wall. Well, I painted the wall and liked it so much that I painted the other three walls. I forgot about the golden rule of paint. PAINT ALWAYS DRIES DARKER! So, then I was stuck with a "too blue" bathroom. I don't think it really shows in the photo, but when I walk into the bathroom, I think "Whoa, blue bathroom!". I don't like to think about a color when I walk into a room. I want to get a feeling. A feeling of freshness, of calm, or of coziness. Not color.

So, I went back to Home Depot and bought a quart of a lighter blue (Dream Catcher-one step up on the color card). I painted all the walls except the accent wall. I'm still not happy. I'm out of paint so I need to buy another can of Dream Catcher and paint the accent wall. I'm anxious to get started on the other projects I'm planning for that room. A new mirror, rug, and artwork.
If you run into me at Home Depot try not to stare to much at the blue highlights in my hair.