Friday, December 30, 2011

Year in Review!

Cue the music that announces something important is about to happen ...

Because it's time for ...

Actually it's not really a year, since I've only been blogging for 61/2 months, but all the other bloggers are reviewing their years, and I want to too!  So let's not nitpick.

First I want share the top three posts in terms of page views to date:

Way out in front with 1,560 page views is my Magical Mercury Tutorial.  I was just gobsmacked (as my British friends say) when I saw that number!  I love the word gobsmacked.  I wish I could use it, but it sounds a bit strange coming out of the mouth of someone who doesn't have an English accent. Anyway, it got picked up on a bunch of sites, which is great.  But I'll have to come up with an amazingly good interpretation of a craft to beat that, and so far I haven't.

Next is A Gender Friendly Makeover with 481 page views. That didn't flabbergast me after seeing number 1, but it's still pretty decent for my new-ish site.  That's another word I like--flabbergast. I can use that one, but I rarely get the chance.  I mean really, how often a day are you flabbergasted? 

And close behind is Some Frenchie Flair with 402 page views. That's just the bees knees.  That's a cute phrase from the '20s.  Not something I say or want to say, but it's cute. 

Next up are my favorite projects from 2011.  I think it's fitting that I start with the very first project I posted, this console:

I think this is one of my most dramatic before and after projects, because it was just plain ugly when I started!

The console was also the first project for my next favorite, the dining room makeover, which took for friggin' ever, mainly because of the table, but which I think was worth it in the end.  This project also included the chairs, china cabinet, and the famous butt chairs.  And best of all, I actually made money on the makeover--so it's got to be up there with my favorite projects of the year!

The chest in the Gender Friendly makeover is also one of my favorites.  I love the color inside the drawers.

This nightstand was such a mess when I got it, but I had a hard time selling it when it was done--I just thought it was so pretty!

And this table is a good example of keeping an open mind, because I didn't think I liked it at first, but it has totally grown on me.

And lastly, I just want to thank the following blogs for hosting link parties because these are my top referring sites (other than Facebook, which is actually the number two referring site, so thank-you Facebook friends for linking up when I post an update blatantly begging you to look at my blog!):

My Repurposed Life
Miss Mustard Seed
Primitive & Proper
Between Naps on the Porch

I  know of only one of you that reads me fairly regularly (hi Cassie!), but in case any of the rest of you happen to be looking at today's post I want to say to you all, I am gobsmacked when I look at your blogs, and utterly flabbergasted by your talent.  You are all the bees knees!

Sharing at French Country Cottage: Feathered Nest Friday

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


How was your Christmas?  I hope it was merry!  I'm still catching up on laundry and putting away the holiday dishes, but at least I don't have to do it at such a frantic pace.  I can take my time and relax ... oh wait, we're having guests for New Year's Eve--guess I can't be quite as leisurely as I thought!

This will not be my New Year's Eve table setting, but I wish it were -- I love the salad plate
with the Roman numerals!  Source: Pinterest via

Well as it just dawned on me, the new year is fast approaching. And you know what that means--New Year's Resolutions!  Do you make them?  I always do.  I like the idea of starting fresh each year.  And I typically keep about half of them. Hey, at least I try!

Pinterest via

So I thought I'd share my resolutions for 2012. If I make them public, I'll have that much more incentive to achieve them!

1. Develop a business plan for Mr. P's Emporium.
I started the store on Etsy last year selling vintage home accessories.  But I haven't spent the time needed to make it work, and since then I've amped up my painted furniture sideline which I want to incorporate into Mr. P's.  Because this is something I seriously want to do, I'm going to spend some time developing a realistic (given my time constraints with work) business and marketing plan--and then follow it! 

2. Lose weight. 
Well this one has been on my list for awhile now.  But each year the amount goes up about 5lbs! The last few years have been hard, for reasons outlined below, but I'm still going to try.  It's either that or go out and buy a whole new wardrobe.  Hmmm ... shopping opportunity ... no ... I've got to lose some weight.

3. Try Natural Healing
Up until this year, each of the last four years I've had either a major injury or major surgery (making getting enough exercise hard, which makes losing weight hard!). I've also had fibromyalgia for years, which I've always been able to control with medication and massage. Well this year I didn't break anything or go under the knife (yay!), but either the left-over effects are wearing me down, or fibromyalgia now mixed with menopause is a bad combo platter--or it's all of the above. I just hurt and am tired all the time.  I really noticed it during the holiday season.  It took me forever to get things done, and I had to bow out of events I really wanted to go to because I just didn't have the energy.

So since the doctors just prescribe pain and sleep meds, I want to try something different like acupuncture, natural diet, etc. in 2012.  I've had success with acupuncture for migraines, but other than that, no experience with this type of thing. If you've tried homeopathic healing or have any advice, I'd love to hear from you!

4. Improve my Photography Skills
Some of my photos come out okay, some come out good (some come out really, really bad, but I don't post those!), but rarely do I get one I'm proud of.  This is a partially a reflection of my camera, but mainly of my photography skills. I mean, Photoshop can only do so much! So I'm taking some classes and getting a new camera in 2012. Stay tuned for awesomeness!

Well, that's about it for this year.  Want to share your resolutions?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dining Room Set for the Holidays

I had planned to post a holiday open house, but since my son is home and has left piles of stuff all over the place; it's not quite in shape to show you.  Because the fact that he's safe and home this year (he was deployed last Christmas) is more important to me than a messy house it's not bothering me much.  When he gets out of the Marines I'll start nagging him again!

So instead I'm showing you our dining room all decorated and ready for Christmas dinner tomorrow.  It's just the four of us for Christmas. 

 For Thanksgiving we usually have friends who don't have family nearby over for dinner.  But for Christmas they all go home for the holidays so it's just us.  That doesn't mean I don't still like to decorate the table!  Although since it's just "the boys" and me, I'm not sure it's particularly appreciated.  That's why I blog!

For the display on the buffet table I spray painted a garage sale find frame silver.

Then I added some chipboard letters that I glittered and glued to silver ribbon.

The wine glasses I've had for years -- etched crystal and found at a thrift shop!

The silver chargers I had, and the white china is our regular china. The salad plates are new this year from Target.

Since there are only four of us, we don't need placecards, but the holders look pretty!  So I usually put something like a note or a gift card in them.

A cake stand, votive candles, white roses, boxwood from the yard and some free tree greens from Home Depot (we have no evergreens on our property--being from the Pacific Northwest that is so odd for me!) make up the centerpiece.

This is a reindeer I picked up at an end-of-the-season sale last year.  It was brown, so I spray painted it silver. I was in a hurry, and actually didn't do the greatest of jobs, so next year it will get a glitter treatment!

Merry Christmas to You All!


Sharing at: French Country Cottage: Feathered Nest Friday/I'll be Home for Christmas
Between Naps on the Porch: Tablescape Thursday

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!

Sing along with me to the tune of "Old Christmas Tree"...

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, we never made it to the Christmas Tree farm ...

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, and the prices at the lots were just ridiculous ...

So we bought you at good old Walmart, you cost the same as the lot but at least you'll last more than one year ...

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, and your needles won't drop all over the floor.


Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, your shape doesn't look realistic ...

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, well what do I expect? You're a fake tree.

But after I got you decorated,
I think you look pretty good ...

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, I'm just glad you're finally done!

I don't know about you, but I think this little ditty is destined to become a holiday classic!

On to a few details on the tree:  Since I'm changing to a silver, green and white theme this year I couldn't put all my ornaments on the tree.  And since I didn't want to go out and buy a bunch of new ornaments (especially since I ended up buying a lot of things for my mantle decoration), I just went with what I had. 

This meant the tree isn't as loaded with  decorations the way I usually like it.  So to fill in, I added some silver ribbon I had picked up at Ikea at the end of last year's season and tucked it in through the branches.  Then I cut off the white silk poinsettias I bought at the thrift store as part of my thrifty decor challenge and placed them in some of the empty spots.

Since our tree skirt is maroon to match my former color scheme, I just used a white tablecloth for now, and I'll get a new tree skirt at the after-holiday sales.

I like the green, white and silver everywhere else in the house, but it just isn't popping enough on the tree for me. So next year I think I'm going to add some purple back in.

You'll notice there are no presents under the tree yet.  That's because I sent all the gifts I've wrapped off to family and friends in Michigan and on the West Coast, and I haven't even started wrapping the gifts for my husband, sons and pets yet. (Yes, we give our pets Christmas gifts too ... otherwise we'd have to look at our dogs' sad eyes as they stare at us while we're opening our gifts and then listen to them sigh all Christmas Day. Not to mention the cats.  They may act like they don't care ... then you come down one morning and find your favorite chair shredded to pieces!)

To be perfectly honest I haven't finished all my shopping yet. So I'd better stop blogging and get to Best Buy!

P.S. Thanks to those of you who left me nice comments and sent me messages after my last post! 

Sharing at: French Country Cottage: Feathered Nest Friday

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ho Ho Huh?

Sorry I've been a bit MIA lately.  We've had a couple of issues, work has been nuts, and I'm frantically trying to get everything done in time before our son gets home on leave.  To be honest, the house is a wreck, the packages haven't been mailed yet (but at least as of tonight everything is wrapped, boxed, labeled and ready to go the post office tomorrow!), and I'm putting the finishing touches on the tree.  When I look around at what everyone else in blog land has accomplished by now, I feel like a holiday failure!

The cookies may end up coming from the bakery this  year, but everything will get done!  I'll be posting photos of our tree in the next day or so, and a holiday "open house" later in the week, so stay tuned!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Last Minute Shopping Tips

This weekend and next week used to be my very least favorite time of the year.  Why?  For 10 years I was the marketing director for a large shopping center. 

This would be my typical week leading up to Christmas: I would be exhausted from working most nights until 11 pm (midnight on Saturdays). The workers for the free gift wrap booth (the cornerstone of our holiday marketing program) were either calling in sick or just not showing up, and I would have to find someone to fill in (usually me).

Customers would yell at me because there were lines for the gift wrap. (Come on, it's free! Of course there are lines!).

And if sales weren't great the store managers would be calling or be in my office telling me I needed to do something about it. (Oh. Okay. I'll just get on the phone with the President, tell him how to turn the economy around overnight and everything will be fine in the morning. I mean, seriously? I don't think I could cram another customer in this place if I tried! How do you suggest I force them to spend more? I don't remember you in my office last year thanking me when we had a sales increase. But now it's my fault and I have to fix it?)  

Um ... sorry .... I had a flashback there for a moment ...  

But it wasn't just me. At this point in the season everyone, including mall management, security, customer service, housekeeping, store management and clerks--even Santa and the Elves--were just about ready to let the Grinch steal Christmas, head to the bar and start downing margaritas. 

But we were nothing compared to the customers!  Last minute shoppers are frantic.  They actually fight each other for parking spaces and the last (fill in the blank for whatever toy is hot this year).  They are tired.  They are irritable. They are worried they are not going to get everything done in time.  For most people, last minute shopping is just not something to look forward to.

So as a public service, I'm going to give you some inside tips to make your last minute shopping easier!

Now, there are some people who have told me they love crowded malls.  They say the hustle and bustle put them in the holiday spirit.  If that's you, I say go for it baby--this your time!!!

But if you'd like to avoid elbows in your back, long lines, or people literally pushing you out of the way, I will say something I could never say when I was working in mall land:  Stay away from the shopping center this week!!  Try to find your gifts in your local stores or in the smaller strip centers.

That's not always feasible however, so here are some suggestions:

  • The Saturday of the weekend before Christmas (tomorrow) is typically one of the busiest, if not the busiest shopping day of the year, usually surpassing the day after Thanksgiving.  So avoid shopping tomorrow if you can. (Don't feel bad if you're a procrastinator, because there are a lot of you us out there!)

  • If possible, take a day off of work, or at least a couple of hours, to hit the mall during the week.

  • Mall traffic is lighter first thing in the morning, or late at night.  Most malls will be open until 11 pm or later the week leading up to Christmas.

  • Come prepared! Do some pre-shopping online for gift ideas, and make sure you bring your gift list.  There is nothing worse than wandering around and around, with no idea whom you still need to buy for, or what you want to get them.

  • Leave excess cash or credit cards at home.  Pick-pockets take advantage of the jostling crowds this time of year.

  • Food, wine, and gift cards make great last minute gifts.

  • The day before Christmas is usually less crowded with shoppers, and you may find some great mark-downs!

  • Wear comfortable shoes!!!

Happy Shopping & Good Luck!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Oh Mantel

I need some elves.  The decorations aren't done.  I haven't finished shopping.  And I apparently lost my mind sometime ago, because I decided to make a lot of my gifts this year.  Now it's December 10th, and I haven't even started them.  I don't know what I was thinking.  Oh yeah, I wasn't.  I have no brain.

One thing I have managed to get done is our mantel decoration.  As you may recall, I decided to change our holiday decor color scheme to silver, green and white this year.

Last year I didn't do that much to the mantel.  But this year I decided to go all out.

I hung a silver pine cone wreath over the mirrors that are always over our fireplace.  Then I put a large silver urn I had on one side of the mantel, and put a big silver ornament in it that I used to hang in the living room . Next to that I put a large mercury glass candle holder from Home Goods, and one of the green hobnail goblets I showed you from one of my thrift store forages.

I sprayed some pine cones silver and tucked them into the garland placed along the mantel.  I added a couple of my faux mercury pieces and some fancier pieces I picked up from Michaels.

On the other side I placed the large urn with a big glass jar I got from HomeGoods, (I got this on a "Blogger Blind Date" with Connie from Hartwood Roses.  We realized we lived just an hour apart and decided to meet for brunch.  Of course, a shopping trip was also on the agenda!).

I filled the jar with green and silver ornaments.

I added more mercury glass and the other green hobnail goblet-turned-candle holder to balance out this end.

Under the mantel I hung a silver bead garland and a white star.

Down below I added a couple of silver lanterns from Ikea that I've used outdoors, and a silk poinsettia to some candles that are usually there, and an urn that is usually in the foyer.  The poinsettia is silk because we have dogs and cats.  I read on someone else's blog (can't remember whose), that the idea that they were harmful to animals is a myth.  However, according to the ASPCA and my vet they are toxic to cats, and will make dogs sick. So as much as I love the real ones, I don't keep them in our house.

I love the green and silver.

So that's it.  Now on to the hundreds of other things I need to get done.  Since Santa doesn't seem to be sending any elves my way, I'm thinking about seeing if I can train the dogs to put the ornaments on the trees.  It's about time they started pulling their weight around here!

Sharing at:
Funky Junk Interiors: Saturday Night Special
The Girl Creative: Creating Christmas
Debbie Doo's Newbie Party
Homemaker on a  Dime: Creative Blogger's Party
You're Talking Too Much: Meet Me Monday
My Crazy Beautiful Life: 18 Days 'Til Christmas
Between Naps on the Porch: Metamorphis Monday
Coastal Charm:Nifty NiftyThrifty Tuesday
It's Overflowing: Christmas-scapes
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia: Tuesday Treasures
Type A Decorating: Anything Goes

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thrifty Holiday Vignettes

As I posted Sunday, I decided to give myself a little challenge.  Since I'm changing the colors of my holiday decor, I decided to see what I could come up with just using thrift store and Dollar Tree finds.  Now this is not to imply that these would be the only additions I'll be making to my decor. I mean come on .... I love this stuff!  I just thought it would be fun (am I the only one who finds things like this fun?) to do some design on a dime decor.

So with $25 in my hot little hand, I hit Goodwill, the Dollar Tree, and my favorite local thrift store Yesterday's Rose, and picked up random stuff in my color scheme that caught my eye.  As a reminder, this is what I started with.  You can see a list on Sunday's post.

 From the Dollar Tree

 From the Thrift Store

From Goodwill

I did cheat a little.  I went back to the Dollar Tree to pick up two more little trees that I had seen but not bought.  Upon reflection I decided I needed those trees!  And they were just $1.69 a piece. I've never really shopped at the Dollar Tree, but I've got to say I was impressed with the selection of holiday decorations.

So here's my first vignette:

I took one of the white wreaths and wrapped some of the silver ribbon and some of the silver garland around it.  I attached one of the snowflakes, and hung it with some of the thrift store ribbon over the mirror in my foyer.

On the console below that I put the trees.  I put one of them with some faux snow in one of the glass pieces from the thrift store, and flanked the trees with two of the thrift store votive holders that I painted with my faux mercury treatment.  Then I scattered some of the snowflakes and little packages.

For the second vignette I hung the silver beads and a snowflake from the thrift store on my decorative iron thinga-ma-jiggy on a chest (which used to be in the dining room) in the foyer. 

I used the two glass candlesticks from Goodwill and the candles from the Dollar Tree, along with more of the glass pieces from the thrift store made into faux mercury.

I put the silver ornaments and some snowflakes in one of my vintage white pottery bowls.

And one of the silk poinsettias from Goodwill in a vase that I had previously done the faux mercury treatment on, along with some greenery.

I thought that would be acceptable with the challenge since the vase was originally from the thrift store and I already had the pottery bowl.  But for the purists out there who think I should stay strictly in the parameters of using only my finds, I also did a version with the green plastic bowl from the Dollar Tree ...

and adding the candlestick from the thrift store and the skinny vase from Goodwill.

So I think I successfully met the challenge!  I have quite a few things left over that I'll mix in with the decorations throughout the house.

Now I have to finish a couple of crafts for my next endeavor ...

Sharing at:

Fox Hollow Cottage: Dollar Tree Party