Saturday, May 22, 2010

Haiku Saturday

few blog posts this week
my boring days occupied
tasks nearly complete

a milestone was passed
a special surprise for you
stay tuned for details

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Desperately seeking ....

Ever have a home improvement project but just can't find the right materials? I'm desperately seeking white 2"x2" ceramic wall tiles. Nothing fancy. You know the standard 4" white bathroom tile? Just that except 2". You would think it would be easy enough to find since its so plain. Nope. I've tried all the big box stores and 6 or so tile stores and nobody has it or can special order it. I have no tile cutting tools or experience, so I can't just cut the 4" down to 2" easily.

I'm off to a high-end specialty store (Ann Sacks Tile) on Friday to have a look-see. Their website has the tile - in 12 different shades of white - but no prices listed. It always scares me when no prices are listed! I only need 1.5 sq. feet so hopefully I can either purchase a small quantity or buy enough sample tiles for my project.

And what is the project you ask? A little back splash behind my bathroom pedestal sink. Wish me luck that I can purchase a small quantity and it won't cost me my first born!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shopping at Home Goods

I was shopping at Home Goods a couple weeks ago and took pictures of some fabulous decorating items for your viewing pleasure. I felt a little weird pulling my camera out in the store to take pictures. Do other people do that?
Cute little pillow that I thought, "I could so make that!"

Beautiful knobs! 

Cool textured tissue holder. I think I could make something like this also.

Colorful artwork

 White erase board with design

This art would fit in great in my condo. Another piece I thought I could totally make on my own.

The most adorable little faux snakeskin table with silver nailhead trim!

 Coral picture frame

Don't you just love shopping?!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's Craft Time - Kitchen Erase Board

I've been wanting either a chalkboard or a white erase board in my kitchen. I thought the chalkboard would be dusty and worried about grease and I thought standard white erase boards are ugly. What to do, what to do. Why I made my own dry erase board, of course! It was easy peasy and pretty thrifty.

I started with a beautiful picture in a gorgeous frame that for some unexplained reason was drastically clearanced at Joann Fabrics to the princely sum of $9.99 (and of course I then used my 40% off coupon). It was very pretty with multiple levels of mat adding a lot of depth and a fantastic gold and silver with a little black flecked wide frame. For my purposes I only cared about the frame, and it was nice and big and just the perfect size for my 24 inches of  free wall space in my kitchen. I was a little worried. I had seen similar projects in blogland and they always use frames with glass and mine was plastic. Turned out my dry erase markers work just fine on plastic. (Yes, you just write on the glass/plastic. Like magic - it's a dry erase board!)

I picked out some great fabric at a quilt store. I wanted something with a subtle pattern but was still neutral enough to fit into my kitchen. Most importantly it had to be easy to read what was written on the front. I thought about burlap, but wanted something different. I bought more fabric than I needed for the project (hmmm.... Freudian slip?) and don't remember what the fabric cost - but lets just call it $4 for the fabric. It's in the ballpark. Oh! Don't forget to iron your fabric.

So now the easy part. I took the paper on the back of the frame off and pried up the little tabs that held the one piece picture and mat in. I then wrapped the cardboard back of the picture with fabric. Except like a dork I first wrapped the picture side and couldn't figure out how I would stop the pictures from showing through the fabric. Just a little brain fog. I flipped the picture over and wrapped the BACK cardboard side with fabric and taped it on the FRONT of the picture. Much better. I used just regular packing tape, but duct tape would also work if it was handy. You just need it to hold until you get the frame reassembled.

We're now on the kitchen floor. I move around a lot when crafting since space is limited. Wash the plastic (or glass) and put the picture back together.

Ta-da! The fabric print is really subtle in these pictures. It shows up a bit more in person. It looks beautiful with my milk chocolate walls, stainless steel appliances and cherry and black cabinets. Too bad I can't get that into the picture. My kitchen is small and my back was up against the opposite wall as I took this picture.

Total cost $10-ish (I'm getting better at remembering to take pictures. Now I need to remember to save my receipts). Except for the fabric shopping (which was really fun) I think it took me longer to iron the fabric the it did to make the project -- 15 minutes tops even with my little taping mix-up.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Blogging Goals

I must admit I've been caught up with "blog fever" since I started 3 1/2 months ago. My number of followers, my subscriptions, my statistics and top referral sites, features, link parties, daily posting, weekly projects and recipes OH MY.

When I first started I found myself censoring my posts because of what I thought my family would think (there she goes, dithering about colors again; off on a lamp goose chase - why does she need new lamps?; why does she think she knows anything and can tell other people about it (OK, that last one might be mine)). I'm pretty much over that now, kinda sorta.

But lately I've found myself censoring and changing my posts because of what you might think.  Organizing posts don't receive comments so you must not like them and I shouldn't write them (although I adore organizing things). Burlap, twine, ruffles and shirts with flowers are really big right now in blogland. I should think of  posts and projects with these items to increase traffic to my site. Really, crazy thoughts because my site is for fun not profit. Increase traffic. I just am happy some people seem to like what I have to say.

Prior to this I found myself writing around the difficult bits of my life, showing only the good "perfect" stuff. I'm tired of writing around the messy bits. From now on you get to read uncensored Kathleen (yep, Kat is just a nickname - shocker).

My goals in blogging are: to have fun! pressure to produce projects or certain blog posts is now gone (yeah right - I'm a perfectionist. I'll work on it); give me some structure to my day; give me a creative outlet that is immediate; practice expressing and sharing what I'm thinking and feeling (I tend to bottle things up in an unhealthy way. Did you read my Passion post? I really shared there and was scared to do so. Ah - sharing again). And show what I'm working on and maybe get a kick in the pants to finish things. All with like minded people (that would be you)

So be prepared for the new, uncensored Kathleen. Raw, edgy with the messy bits exposed while still focusing on Decorating, Organizing and Creating for Less - I'm not changing the focus of the blog. Only that you'll "see" more of the real me (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...). And I will write about what I want to and not be a lemming (she said as the cliff loomed near).

I hope you enjoy the subtle change.


What are you passionate about? This has been a topic in the chain of friendships I have and got me thinking.

I used to know what I was passionate about: my son, my job, and a couple relationships. Some stuff you don't know about me: I've have a major illness. Several years ago my job was eliminated in a merger and now my illness prevents me from getting another like it so there went the money and the self identity tied up in my work (not necessarily healthy, but still). My standard of living sharply decreased. My romantic relationship ended and I moved away. Long distance old friendships are harder to maintain and new ones seem difficult to make. I am lost and have lost track of who I am.

I've been working on redefining (or finally discovering) myself, my values, my goals, my talents, my passions. What I really want in life and not what I think I should want or what I think other people think I should want (if that was confusing to you just think about how I feel living it). It's HARD work. And there are no right answers, which I hate. I want to get to a point where a bell rings and a voice calls down "ahh... finally. Your answer is correct" which I really don't think will happen (darn it). Art titled Passion Lotus.

So enough about me. How about you? What are your passions? How do you know?

Monday, May 10, 2010

In the Kitchen - Grandma's Pancakes

This is my favorite pancake recipe. It supposedly makes 16 servings. Obviously they haven't fed a teenage boy, but the recipe does make a lot. The recipe has extra sugar in it so syrup isn't needed. We just pick them up and eat them like a piece of toast (how uncouth). The extra are great the next day for breakfast or a midnight snack. My son eats them cold, but I've had good luck toasting them in the toaster. Just watch so they don't burn until you see how long it takes in your toaster, as each are different. Wooden tongs are great for getting them out.

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons white sugar
2 1/2  Cups of Milk *
2 eggs
1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 Tablespoon cinnamon (we like lots so I use 2 Tablespoons)

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla; mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle (I use a non-stick with no oil) over medium heat. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto the griddle. Brown on both sides.

* My good friend Bruce tells me you can use slightly sour or expired milk in the pancakes with good results. They bake up really light and fluffy. Now if the milk has chunks, it's obviously too far gone. But a few days past the expiration is fine for cooking in pancakes, biscuits and the like. Anything you'd use buttermilk in is fair game. Bruce says its also good in chocolate cream pies. Ummmm..... pie.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Haiku Saturday

writing a Haiku
can be difficult to do
made it just for you

cheater at writing
Haiku should have more meaning
lazy girl am I

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fab Friday Favorites

Hi and welcome to another week of Fab Friday Favorites. Can you believe it's already Friday? Seems like I just wrote this post for last week. Hope you all had a great week and are ready for some fabulous projects.

This is a waterproof picnic blanket by The Cottage Home. I've got to make myself one of these. I don't picnic often, but when I do this would be super handy.

I love setting my table with pretty linens, runners and napkins. I don't have many napkin rings (except the twine and PVC pipe ones I made here. These reversible fabric rings would be nice to have to add a punch of color to solid napkins. Pickup Some Creativity has a great tutorial on how to makes them. Bonus! I'd get to practice my button hole sewing technique.

Oh my, how extraordinary! This ribbon and bird chandelier is a Pottery Barn knockoff and is simply wonderful. Where or where could I hang something like this! Made by Living with Lindsay. Lindsay always has the coolest projects on her blog.

Sweet Charli has a tutorial on how to turn ordinary flip flops into these feminine ones on the cheap. Off to buy flip-flops because I want ruffles and flowers by my pretty painted toes!

Danielle from Life on Dehlia Lane made this cute burlap menu board. I have a similar project ready to show you, but I love how she stenciled in the crossed spoon and fork. Cute and practical!

Sometimes simple is best. This utensil holder has elements that are all the rage right now - burlap and numbers. And how easy to make, Rocky Bella shows you how. Go to her blog, and check out her kitchen backsplash. Love!

The Painted Hive talks about their furniture business, Lemonbutter. I saw these adorable stools and thought the idea would transfer to my folding wood TV tray tables I have.

Thrifty and Chic shows you how to make these Pottery Barn knock off mason jar votive holders. I think the best part of the post are these wooden holders shown in this picture. They don't talk about how to make them, but it seems simple enough. Imagine these lining your patio, or down the aisle of an outdoor summer evening wedding. I need to start an "if I ever get married again file" and have these be my first addition.

Oh my word, this is just so fun! Random Thoughts of a Supermom (and isn't that the best blog name you've heard?) made this candy sushi. I just LOVE sushi and this just has me smiling. I'm going to make some for the dessert table of my son's high school graduation party!

I hope you enjoyed and were inspired by these projects. Go forth and craft!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Honey Do List

I was reading a cute blog post about a woman's perpetually undone honey do's list. You know the list. It's the one you make for your partner of things you would like him or her to complete. "Honey, please do ....". I've got it rough. I have no "honey" to "do" anything. (woe is me - although I have a semi-helpful, semi-responsive teenage son).On the one hand it makes my life easier, I'm not disappointed or frustrated by someone not doing what I would like them to.  On the other hand, it kind of sucks to be the only one responsible for everything.

I have a long list of things to be done (ie my master decorating plan that I talked about here) and almost all of them are decorating or home improvement items. I have a weekly to-do list and things get crossed off from there on a semi-regular basis. I guess my "honey do" list is the equivalent of my " hmmm... that would be nice for someone (imaginary) else to" list. Items on my list include cleaning the inside of my car, taking care of talking with the car repair mechanic, taking care of the "sink boogers" (yucky stuff left in the drain strainer after you finish dishes), and I'd really, really, really like for someone else to do my laundry and wash my dishes. But I guess those last two don't fit into the "honey do" list category. I got nothing else.

What items are on your honey's to do list? Any drive you crazy?

The Great Lamp Saga

This really is a saga. I'm in a chatty mood so get something to drink and be prepared to spend some time reading. 

I wanted new lamps. N.e.e.d.e.d. new lamps. Was obsessed with new lamps. What I had were fine, worked with the style of the room, gave off good light and were paid for (a big bonus). That didn't stop me from lamp shopping. I wanted something that would look ok in a mid century modern / vintage modern room but were more modern then the really vintage ones I already had. But I was still thinking vintage just a more contemporary vintage (if that makes any sense). So I shopped Craigs List (J'adore), Etsy, Ebay until my little fingers gave out. Oh I found lamps, lots of them, cute, would be perfect, but you forget. I'm cheap. Cheap, cheap, cheap said the little bird. So nothing worked. Then I tried online. Crate and Barrel, CB2, West Elm, DWR (fav), Ikea etc. Again lots of contenders but nothing that fit the budget (which was about $0 but could be stretched).

On a whim one day I went into Marshalls (conveniently located next to the grocery store .. yeah they knew what they were doing when they built it). I found the PERFECT lamps (because I wanted a matching pair). The heavens opened, a light shown down from above and a chorus of birds sang out, cheap, cheap, cheap. They were $39.99 each. A great price for a lamp, don't get me wrong. But out of the $0 budget I had and further than it would stretch that day. So I walked on by and didn't purchase them.

They haunted me. I keep thinking about the darn lamps and how perfect they would be in the living room. I talked about them to my friend who said she thought they would have looked fantastic. I tried to put them out of my mind. Then one day while cruising around the HGTV's Rate My Space site I saw a room that had MY lamps in it. I sent the link to my friend and then she really thought they would look good in the room. She told me to stop talking about them and go back to the store and buy them (or shut up about them - she didn't say that but I could tell she was tired of my lamp talk).

The next day I went into Marshalls, my pennies counted and saved. If we didn't eat that week, I could purchase the lamps (kidding - sort of). Well, as expected they were sold. Gone. Not even a tag left that I could have them search other stores for another set (BTW Marshalls stores aren't connected by computers so they can't search inventory, only call the other store and have someone go check the floor. An important piece of information).

Still I was haunted by the ones that got away. Obsessed now. After several weeks, I started to call or visit every Marshalls in a 50 miles radius (25 I kid you not) of my house. No luck. Time passes. Then I get a call from Alison in Indianapolis (150 miles away) that she has spotted one lamp in the Marshalls by her house. Since I'm going to be in Indianapolis, I'm excited. As soon as I arrived  I went into the store and purchased the lamp. Only one. Singular when I wanted a pair, determined that I would find another to complete my set. And if not, after a valiant effort, I could return the lamp in defeat.

I visited and called the stores in Indianapolis (7). No luck. I called the stores along the 150 miles back to Chicago (5). No luck. (Calling the stores wasn't an easy thing. You'd call, get put on hold, get transferred to the right department, put on hold, talk to a 13 year old and describe your lamp. Get put on hold. Have the 13 year old go look on the floor for anything that sounded like it matched. Be disappointed but suspicious that they REALLY checked. Hang up and try another).

I couldn't get a hold of one store in Valparaiso Indiana. It was about 20 miles east of my route back home, but I was determined to find another lamp, so I drove to the store. As I drive I pass a massive strip mall of stores. A TJ Maxx sign seems to shimmer on the horizon. Focus I tell myself. You are on a lamp crusade and don't have time for random shopping.

I'm at the Valparaiso store (after getting lost) and they don't have the lamp. Of course. The Manager calls the other 3 local stores and.... no lamp. As I'm walking out the door the manager says, "There is a TJ Maxx by the mall. They are a sister store and sometimes have the same items. Why don't you try there?" Well, in my great shopping experience I've NEVER seen the same items at a Marshalls and a TJ Maxx store. Never. I think they lady is crazy. I'm tired and grumpy and still have 2 hours of driving through Chicago traffic until I get home. I leave the store.

I again drive past the strip mall and the TJ Maxx sign seems to shimmer and call out to me. I drive past then say a naughty word to myself, make a u-turn and head back to the store. FINE. I'll stop and look. I park, march into the store and head straight back to the home accessories section. Fully expecting to be disappointed, again. But there it was!! - bright shiny white with a silver lining (really). My missing matching lamp!! I snapped it up, paid for it and headed home, triumphant in my shopping war of the lamps. Victorious! Don't the new matching white ones look so much better? I love how the raised design is mimicked in my plant pots.

The End.

OK, so not quite the end. I got the lamps home, plugged them in and ... didn't like the way they looked in the living room. They were short and didn't give off as much light as the old ones and had weird shadows. I was hugely disappointed and thought about taking them back immediately. Live with them awhile, the friend said. I learned to love them in the room and got used to the more muted "mood" lighting they provided, just don't try to read a book with small print. This week I finally sold the two old vintage lamps on Craigs List (heart) and almost made enough money to pay for the new lamps.

OK, now The End.

Have you been obsessed about a decorating object? Do tell!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I've been featured on a blog out of Turkey! My bath mat pillow project was a hit. Today I've had about 20 visitors from around Turkey visit my blog. I find it just amazing the reach a little blog like mine can have. Within the last 24 hours I've had visitors from Canada, Iceland, Spain, Turkey, Ireland and of course many from across the United States. A world united through decorating, organizing and crafting. How beautiful is that?!

Dresser Before and After

This is a picture of my new dresser. It was a $30 Craigs List find. (I ADORE CRAIGS LIST). I just love the carved details on the drawer fronts and that it goes all the way to the floor. The rest of the furniture in my living room have legs that show. I purchased it with the intent to paint it, but mentally went through several colors before deciding on the right one (orange and fuchsia were in the running but I kept coming back to my defined style statement). The dresser was in a suburb far from my home, but near a friends house. He picked it up and took it to work with him in downtown Chicago. There it was transferred to my brothers vehicle and brought home to my house in Evanston. Having friends and family with bigger cars / SUVs sure is nice.

This is what the dresser replaced. I loved the look of the small table. And it kept that side of the room open and airy feeling, but I just needed more storage. I sold the table on Craig's List for $30 (but had many interested buyers. I should have relisted it for more money.) I initially paid $5 at Goodwill for the table 6-7 years or so ago, so I definitely got my money's worth out of the deal.

The dresser stayed in its brown laminate state for about 3 months until I got around to painting it. Here is the after. I sanded the laminate with a fine grit sandpaper, wiped it down, primed it and put two coats of aqua on it. I already had the paint, but I wish it had a higher gloss than the eggshell. I love the light aqua against the dark turquoise walls. I still need to move the clock up and accessorize the wall, because the table it replaced was much smaller. I've since spray painted the knobs silver, but kind of wish I had left them the original antiqued brass color. An antique glaze would look fantastic on this piece, but that is definitely not the look I'm going for. Although I have thought about a silver glaze. I wouldn't want it to look shabby chic but rather hollywood regency - ish. The way it is is fine for now.

So here is the funny part of this redo. I don't have a garage, or basement or any outdoor space where I can paint. That leaves painting inside. Here's what it looks like to paint in the living room of a 650 sq. ft condo.

Ah, fun times. But I'm very happy with how the dresser looks painted aqua and the extra storage space I gained.

Joining up to these fabulous link parties. Come join in the fun!