Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Not Too Shabby Secretary

I discovered that I needed a desk and bill paying area at our summer cottage at the lake so I went on the hunt for something cheap but cute. I like the shabby chic style but not too shabby. Chippy paint is fine in other people’s houses but I didn’t want to go that shabby. I decided I would look for a secretary to paint.  IMG_0835 I found this one on Ebay and it was close enough for me to pick up so I purchased it. I don’t have any before pictures but it was in pretty good condition. The wood veneer is chipped and missing in a couple of spots which made it an ideal candidate for paint. Actually, I didn’t even use primer but I would if I was doing it over. I just used a white latex paint so it took several coats to get good coverage.  I decided that it needed  something to give it a little pop so I added the lime trim on the drawers and the pull down top.  IMG_0849 I took the hardware off, spray painted it silver, then put it back on.Then I had the bright idea to add the monogram which I did free hand. IMG_0839 I used leftover wall paint for the accent color but it didn’t show up at all. So I measured out a quart of my leftover paint, took it to Sherwin Williams, and had them remix it one shade darker. Then I went back and painted the trim with the darker color. It shows up much better now.The grids were missing from the top doors so I made little curtain panels from fabric leftover from the bed skirt and curtains and installed them on little rods. The shelves are adjustable and they will be coming out since my plan is to put a flat screen TV in that area.IMG_0840 I also decided that the decorative top and the claw feet needed to be accented so I added some of the lime paint there.IMG_0837
  IMG_0848I especially like all of the little cubby holes and the “secret” compartments. They remind me of my elderly piano teacher that I had growing up. Every month when I gave her the check for my lessons, she put it in one of those little hiding places in her secretary that was in the studio. IMG_0842IMG_0847IMG_0845 Because this is a small room, the top stays closed unless I’m using the writing area and I use the little stool at the foot of the bed to sit on.IMG_0836 I am pleased with how well this project came out. I will be linking to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.
P.S. I’m looking forward to a busy week as I will be in Gatlinburg at a conference for senior adults where I will be selling my Bethlehem Christmas dinnerware. Christmas will be here before you know it.  I have some special prices right now and would LOVE to send you some!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Back to School Again

When I think of back to school, I think of stocking up on pencils, pens, notebooks, and a new backpack. My kids have always enjoyed purchasing their back to school supplies but this year, back to school has taken on a whole new meaning. Sixteen years of practice could not prepare me for this year. Supplies were a little different this year. They consisted of “survival” American foods such as easy mac, cereal, and cereal bars. We also purchased a thermometer and an assortment of over the counter medications in case of a minor emergency. Plane tickets, passport, and visa were in order. This year, my daughter, who is a junior in college, is spending the fall semester in China. She is not traveling with a group but is doing this solo.  While there, she will be attending classes just like she would at home. Some of those will be taught in English and others in Chinese. Her Chinese speaking skills should improve tremendously.  Even though she is a seasoned traveler, she had a tremendous challenge trying to pack all of her necessities for the next 15 weeks into two suitcases, which could not exceed 50 pounds each I might add.  She passed that challenge with flying colors. She had 3 pounds to spare!  In the few weeks before her departure,we went over lots of essential information. We talked about safety. We talked about our plans for communicating. We talked about school. We talked about shopping.  We talked about surviving the long flight. And we talked about being a blessing to those less fortunate around her.

A friend asked me if it was emotional at the airport. I told her yes, but not the way she expected.  While at the airport we had a little time to wait between checking luggage and the time she needed to go to the gate. As we waited, we saw a group of soldiers assembling upstairs. In just a few moments, the soldiers were led by the USO to the gate area. They received a standing ovation. That was the point I nearly lost it. I silently prayed for them as they paraded by. I prayed for their safety and protection. I thanked God for their willingness to serve. I knew that my daughter could be one of those. I am thankful that because they are willing to go and serve, my daughter is able to go also. I thanked God that we live in a country with freedom to come and go when we choose.

I know that this semester will be a learning experience for our entire family.  It will be painful, but our faith will grow.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Red Lantern

When I spotted this red lantern in one of my favorite interior design shops it was love at first sight! I knew that it would make the perfect accent piece for my bedroom at the lake cottage. It was love at first sight until I turned over the price tag. Talk about sticker shock, $1600. That is not a typo. Sixteen hundred dollars! There was no way I would pay $1600 for my short lived new love. Even though the entire light was about 28 inches tall, it was still over priced.  Make that grossly over priced.I finished my browsing and mosied on out. I then decided to visit the other stores nearby. Stationary store. Skip that. Liquor store. Absolutely skip that. Tuesday Morning. Good browsing but no purchases today. Import store somewhat like a no-name Pier One. Great browsing. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear but the almost identical same lantern with no light inside!!! Price tag:$59. Oh yes. Then, 20% off!!!! OH YES. I’ll take it. I was ecstatic!  I know where to get light fixtures. I hustled on down to the Habitat Resale store and picked one up for $5. I had to remove the glass part of my habitat fixture but that simply involved turning a few screws. I took my handy dandy little power drill and drilled a hole in the very tip top of my red lantern for the wiring and hanging hook to go through. I opened the little door and inserted my habitat light and pulled the wire through the hole. IMG_0832
I purchased the little thing at the ceiling (I think it’s called a canopy) from Lowe’s for a couple of bucks. IMG_0830
I just saved myself $1640!! Cha-ching! I made this light for less than the taxes on the original one. When I visited that store one year later, the red lantern was still there. I could not work up the nerve to take a photo. IMG_0834I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I LOVE it when a plan comes together!
I’ll be linking to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch and to the DIY showoff.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Elegance on the Cheap

I love elegance. And I love a sale. Even more than those, I love it when I can do better than a sale.
cote de texas table 
The photo above came from the Cote de Texas blog. Most will agree that it evokes simple elegance.
These hurricane lamps were spotted at  They are now on sale. The regular price is $118 each!  The sale price is $59.99 each! According to the girls in blogland, these hurricanes can be made in a flash at a fraction of the retail price.
These candle holder bases were purchased at Hobby Lobby for $3 each at 50% off.  It is very similar in shape to the bases on the inspirational hurricanes. BLOG-CANDLEHOLDER 007

These vases were purchased at the Dollar Tree for  $1 each. It is also very similar in shape to the inspiration hurricanes due to the flared out shape at the top. It was hard to get a good photo due to the reflection of all the light. Clean the vase and turn it upside down.BLOG-CANDLEHOLDER 009
Add a little E6000 glue to the edge and invert the candle holder on top. The candleholder weighs enough to stay in place without additional support while drying.IMG_0772
Allow the glue to dry thoroughly. BLOG-CANDLEHOLDER 015
Again, it was hard to get a good shot due to the reflection of all the light.
Pair the hurricanes with an $8 thrift store silver bowl. IMG_0601
Throw in some yard clippings that were picked up off the side of the street.  Yes, I said yard clippings. IMG_0146
I spied these while walking down the street in Charleston and decided to rescue them. Actually, I made a mental note of the location while I was on my walk.When I went back to the car my plan was to drive by, hop out and get the trash and hop back in the car. As luck would have it, just as I pulled over to hop out since there was no street side parking, the homeowner drove up to turn in the driveway and I was in the way. As I relayed the story to my family and said that I wondered what the homeowner thought, my kids said not to worry that the homeowner could tell that anybody picking up yard trash had to be the artsy type.IMG_0598
The finished results are remarkable for $16. That’s  savings of more than $220!!! Cha-ching! I love cheap talk!

I’ll be linking to Metamorphasis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Timesaver in the Kitchen

When I need to whip up a special treat for breakfast, I like to make fresh muffins. I have discovered a big timesaver in making muffins.  I mix a double batch according to my favorite recipe, Morning Glory Muffins. I then fill the muffin papers in the muffin tin. Next, I set the muffin tin in the freezer until the muffins can hold their shape.

When the muffins can hold their shape I remove them from the freezer and transfer them to a freezer bag. I try to get as much of the air out of the bag as I can in order to prevent ice from forming on the tops.
Then I repeat the process until all of the batter is in muffin papers. When I am ready to bake muffins, I take the number that I need from the freezer and pop them in the oven. The result is freshly baked muffins in 15 minutes.  As Martha would say, “It’s a good thing!”

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Lamp for the Porch

I wanted to use this lantern for a lamp on the screened porch so I’ll try to show the process step by step.
The first step was to find the lantern of proper proportions.
Next I scoured the local thrift shops to find a lamp nearly the same size.
It doesn’t matter what the thrift store lamp looks like since it is just used for parts.
Actually, all of the parts can be purchased at the hardware or home improvement store but it is much more economical (and green) to shop at the thrift store.
                         IMG_0728                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  IMG_0729                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           This is the beauty that I brought home. $4.50. The lady at the checkout told me what a beautiful lamp it was. I think it was the shade that caught her eye,LOL.
I then began to disassemble, starting by removing that shade and chunking it in the trash. Then I removed the harp (the support part for the shade).
IMG_0730                    IMG_0732
If you look very closely at the part near the switch you can see the words “press here.” Press on that spot and gently pull the pieces apart.
Next, slide the outside cover off. There you will find the electrical connections.
Carefully examine the wires. One part of the wire should be completely smooth and the other part of the wire should have little ridges on it. I always try to mark the connections before unscrewing them. I used a sharpie to put an “S” on the connection for the smooth wire.  (When you reconnect the wires the lamp won’t work if you get them mixed up.)

IMG_0738 After marking the connection, use a screwdriver (or a butter knife) to loosen the wires. Now, remove the felt cover from the base of the lamp and carefully pull the cord out of the lamp.

IMG_0740 Once the cord is completely out you can start unscrewing the parts of the lamp until it is disassembled.
                                                               IMG_0742                     IMG_0743 
Pretty soon you should have a bunch of parts. My intention was to simply reassemble the lamp parts inside my lantern using the long rod pictured above on the left.  However, when I put the rod inside my lantern, it was too short to go all the way to the top. So, I had to adjust.  I found my box of old lamp parts and found a very short rod just like the long one. Most of these rods are threaded the same size and are interchangeable. As you see below, the lantern already had a hole in the top. I put my little short rod in the top of the lantern and used the nut to tighten it on the inside. In the photo below on the left, I am holding that part up in the hole of the lantern because it will not just stay there until something is screwed to the top.I then screwed on the lamp part. Oops! I forgot the part that holds the harp so I had to unscrew, put the harp holder one, then put the lamp socket parts on.
                                                              IMG_0751             IMG_0752
Next comes adjustment #2. If you look closely at the photo above on the right, you will notice that the cord is not going down through the lantern but is going outside the lantern. I decided to switch to a clear colored cord to go outside the lantern rather than have the brown cord dangling inside with the candle. Hopefully this will make sense in the final photo.In order to make the wire go on the outside I had to drill a little hole for the wire to go through.
IMG_0754 I then pulled the wire through and tied it in a knot as shown above. This keeps the wire from accidentally being pulled back out. Now make the electrical connections again. Remember, the smooth wire goes to the screw marked with the “S”.
IMG_0758 After making the wire connections, put the cover back on. Remember, you may need to “press here” to get it on snugly.
IMG_0760Actually, this photo shows the correctly assembled lamp. You can see here the harp supporter that had to go on before the socket holder. I didn’t realize that I had left it off until I was ready to put the shade on so I had to unscrew everything to put it on.
 Now we’re ready for the harp and shade.
    IMG_0761     IMG_0762

770 original
Here she sits in her new home!
I’ll be linking to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.