Friday, November 23, 2012

Elephant Table

Remember how I was talking about an elephant table in the living room not long ago here? Well I purchased one just a few days ago for $45. It was a bit of a drive to get it but I didn't have to go into the city which was a bonus. I'll take suburbs over city driving any day.

Here he is. An elephant with its trunk raised is a symbol of good luck. So my elephant hunt had to have an elephant with its trunk up, be less than $50, tall enough for a table, and bonus an easy drive to get.

He's a pretty ivory color with dark highlighting. I had planned to paint him a bright white and leave out the highlighting for a more modern look (like the examples in my prior post). However the ivory is growing on me. I think I'll hold off painting for awhile and see what direction I end up going.

I also have to figure out where to put him. I'm not sure I like the elephant table where I thought I would put it - next to the green chair in the living room. The mid-century modern table there is a recent edition. I had it in my basement storage locker and brought it up to try before I sold it. Well turns out I really like it next to the green chair. So I have a homeless elephant. I think he'll go live in the "office" / my sons bedroom when he's home from college. My son doesn't think so but I'll just move it in there when he's back at school - none the wiser. For now he's hanging out in the living room with a plant on him. He makes me smile (but totally freaks out the dog).

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pumpkin "Dump" Cake - FAIL

We usually spend Thanksgiving at my brothers' house with about 20 other folks. Well this year they are out of town so we are kind of on our own. I'm totally OK with that. I'm making a chicken instead of a turkey. My son requested pumpkin pecan pie. I have a tried and true recipe and it always turns out great. I asked him if I could make something different this year. I wanted to try the pumpkin dump cake recipe floating around Pinterest. I made a dump cake back here that turned out really well. I wanted to actually make something from Pinterest instead of just always pinning stuff. It was easy and based on my prior results I thought it would taste pretty good. BTW - I'm not a fan of "baking" with convenience foods like a cake mix. But how could so many glowing reviews be so wrong?

I followed this recipe. Blah. I don't recommend it. I added more than double the amount of spices in the recipe (we really like cinnamon and ginger). The cake was overly salty and pretty bland. The bland surprised me. There was not enough butter on top. So after cooking for 50 minutes I had an inch of powdered cake mix on top of my pumpkin and it was still soupy underneath. I sliced up more butter and put it all around the top. I baked it again for another 10 minutes. After 10 minutes it looked like it needed more time. I baked it another 10 minutes. Then an additional 10 minutes. Then still an additional 10 minutes. Finally it wasn't jiggly any more and the additional butter seemed to have soaked in. All you can taste is salty and sweet with a buttery feel in your mouth. The pumpkin is hardly present. What a huge disappointment.

It gets tons of good reviews on multiple recipe sites. I followed the recipe exactly up to the point that it was "done cooking" but under done and consisted of a box of dry cake mix on top of a soupy mixture. Then I checked out other recipes and see that some use a much smaller can of pumpkin and 1/2 cup more butter than the recipe that I followed. I would also use less sugar and totally skip the salt. I would also recommend slicing the butter and putting it on top instead of melting and drizzling. Drizzling left many spots with no butter = dry cake mix.  If I just sliced first I wouldn't have had to add more butter at the end. Frankly I'm not entirely sure that I won't chuck the entire thing into the garbage (and I have a huge sweet tooth and will eat just about anything). FAIL. FAIL. (It's a two fail kind of recipe).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dining Room Drapes

I've been so happy with the drapes that I finally got around to hanging in the living room, I made it a priority to get the dining room done also. Now I haven't had drapes in the 5 years that I've lived here. That might sound weird. But I'm on the 3rd floor surrounded by tall oak trees. In the summer you can't see in at all. In the winter you need to stand at some weird angles on the street to see in the windows and then you only see from the chest up. So I really wasn't worried about privacy and enjoyed the open, airy look.

The drapes in the living room just made the room feel finished in a way I wasn't able to achieve otherwise. So onward! Drapes for everybody!

I hung this pair of pretty raspberry, pinky/coral and chartreuse drapes that I purchased for $35 + shipping from Etsy. I love that the green is an exact match for the walls. I'm really pleased with the way they look. I hung the drapes in such a way that the window now looks centered on the wall. It really is 17" inches closer to the bar than to the other wall. It always drove me nuts that it wasn't centered. How did I do it? The drape by the bar cart is hiding about 17" of window. The other side is hung so that the edge of the drape is just even with the end of the window (covering 17" of wall space).  So to measure, I hung each bracket 17" inward from the corners of the walls, centering the curtain on the wall, not the window. Easy peasy.

I'm not sure I'm pleased with the way the drapes look with the abstract art on the wall. I'm back to that issue of wanting everything to match instead of just being happy with coordinate. What do you think? Does it look OK? Do I leave the abstract or remove it and go with a gallery wall of leaning black frames on picture ledges? I like the idea of having an easy way to display lots of pictures. I also like that I already own the abstract and don't have to spend any more money on decorating this wall. I'm not sure but I really need to decide before I screw the art to the wall to make it lay flat. It's warped. It's a PITA to fix holes in a plaster wall. Also this is the only possible location for the abstract in the condo.

Maybe I just have to paint the blue lamp a different color? Perhaps black? Or remove the lamp and do something with the art behind the bar cart as it is too high above the cart.  I never turn the lamp on. It's just there to add something tall to the space. Oh! Maybe I add the owl umbrella holder with peacock feathers on the bar cart? I currently have it in the corner of the dining room. You can see it peaking out of the corner above. It really does get lost in this location. I just put it there so it would have a spot in the house.

So to recap, should I:

Paint the lamp black
Replace the lamp with the owl umbrella holder with peacock feathers
Redo the art behind the lamp so it works with the now lower Lucite bar and remove the lamp and umbrella holder
Replace the abstract with a gallery wall of picture ledges and leaning pictures

I'm still looking for the perfect set of  Hollywood Regency chairs to replace my mid century modern ones. It'll be an easy/cheap way to add that Hollywood Regency style I'm trying to add to the condo.


My son came home from college for winter break in Saturday! I'm so glad to have him home. I miss him terribly when he is gone. It's been just the two of use since he was about 3 years old so we are really close.

Something happened over the summer and all of a sudden he wanted to go to thrift stores with me! We had so much fun. So on the way home from the airport we stopped in two different Salvation Army's. I found a small print for the bathroom and a milk glass vase. It seems I've been starting a collection of milk glass vases. Not consciously but all of a sudden I have 6 or so.  He didn't find anything to purchase. I don't think he ever has purchased anything but he does enjoy the hunt.

I did a lot of updating to the condo while he was gone. He gets a little frustrated with my constant changes so I tried to do as much as I could without him here. While he is home he will help me paint my bedroom, purchase a couple nightstands, do a ton of spraypainting (Wednesday is the day! It's supposed to be 58 degrees and only a slight wind. I have a list of items to paint.) and a couple more projects I've got up my sleeve. It'll be fun to see how much we get accomplished.

It is so nice to have him home! He is home thru the 1st of January.

Monday, November 19, 2012


I had set up a little bar area in my dining room using a left over bedroom dresser. It looked pretty nice, fit the corner well. I just needed to accessories it (like maybe purchase some booze). I loved that it had tons of storage for my vintage set of dishes that I'm trying to sell. It was a great mid-century modern piece.

But as I've mentioned I'm trying to move away from the mid-century look to a more Hollywood Regency look. I thought an easy way to update the dining room is to replace the bar cart and the dining chairs (more on that later). I've been searching Craigs List for an oriental cabinet to put in the space. I just wasn't finding anything I liked that would fit. I wanted something special looking.

Then one day last week I came across this lucite bar cart and fell in love. It really lightens up the area of the dining room. I think it's so beautiful. I'm working on how to accessorize it and really make it shine.

I sold the mid-century piece and bought the lucite piece within a couple days of each other and made a $50 profit. I'm very happy with my purchase.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Murano Lamp Shade

I haven't been happy with the lampshade on my vintage Murano lamp. When I purchased the lamp for $20 it had a horrible pleated, over-sized, yellow and terribly dusty shade. I had the homeowner just throw it away. I didn't even want it in my car. I then purchased the shade you see below. I tried going to a lighting store for a shade but they didn't have anything big enough in stock. Special order would have been $175+ for a basic shade. Well that wouldn't do.

So I ordered the shade online ( I believe) for $55+ shipping. It was OK. Nothing special. The shape was OK but the fabric was a coarse weave and looked kind of cheap. So I've been thinking of getting a new shade for the past 1.5 years.. Emily Henderson mentioned a good custom shade source that wasn't too expensive (sorry I can't find it right now). Then I wasn't sure about shape and color. I'm not sure you can tell but the lamp is oval shaped and fairly thin. I could go white, black, fuchsia with the lampshade if I wanted. Decisions, decisions. I was pretty paralyzed on what to do next.

Then last week when I was making my weekly pilgrimage to a thrift store I found this wonderful silk pagoda shade for $6.99. I picked it up and then put it back down. I thought $6.99 was expensive for a used shade. There was a small water stain on one side. I carried it around the store not sure if it was worth the $6.99 to try it and see if it would fit. I thought the size was OK but wasn't sure. I must have spent 20 minutes deciding to spend $6.99 or not. Some times I'm so cheap I surprise myself. Anyway I decided it was worth trying to see if it would look OK and brought it home.

Yea! After wiping it down with a damp cloth, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the size is perfect. The pagoda shape really compliments the lamp and adds a nice design element for that corner. The water stain is facing the back and you would never know it was there. I'm very pleased with my $6.99 solution.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Updates to the Bathroom

Other than painting the biggest update you can make to your bathroom is a new shower curtain. I had a plain white waffle weave curtain. It was really nice and gave the room a clean, airy feeling. I was going for a spa feel. But as I've discussed before I'm in the mood for a lot of color and contrast so I purchased a new shower curtain.

Isn't it fun? I really love the colors and it picks up on the aqua blue of the walls, the royal blue that in the living room curtains and has my favorite fuchsia/purples.

I added some hand towels that are a perfect fuchsia match. These are actually kitchen towels from Target but they work perfect in here. I even found some hand soap in the right color.

 I added some fun black and white chevron baskets to the top of my cabinet to hold head bands and rollers. With my hair longer now I find I "need" a ton of hair accessories. The baskets are a good way to corral them. They look like they are falling off the cabinet for some reason in the picture but they aren't.

I added a piece of artwork on the open wall opposite the sink and toilet. Black and white again. It's kind of trendy but I like it. I wish it were a bit bigger.


I love the floor. The bathroom has the original 1950's black and white tile and tub. The floor also has gray tiles so it looks like plaid. About a year ago I had the tile blacksplash added to the sink area. It was constantly being splashed with water and always looked messy. I couldn't find smaller white tile that didn't cost a fortune so I used a white glass tile and the black boarder found in the rest of the room. I also updated the faucet at the same time.

I read a post on Making It Lovely about black and white bathroom inspirations. In it Nicole talked about adding a black toilet seat to a white bathroom for some more color. I love the idea. I never would have thought about it. In my life white toilets have always had white seats. My seat had a chip in the screw cover and is missing a bit of white porcelain. I checked out Home Depot and they don't carry black toilet seats in their stores. The couple they had on their web site all had bad reviews. Really how bad can a toilet seat be? Well these were thin plastic and flimsey for $50+ dollars. I want a heavy one or wood so it doesn't feel cheap. The search continues.

I still have the project to hang a towel rod and a robe hook on the back of the door. I also want to fix some damage to the door front from the previous owner and paint the door black.

I only have one bathroom in the condo and you can see it's pretty small. But it packs a colorful punch and makes me smile.