Friday, March 16, 2018

March Madness: Bunnies and Leprechauns!

March Madness is here.

That means we are doing the schizophrenic switching between channels to catch all the action of basketball games between teams that we don't really care about. Alas our Gopher men had the worst year ever....but cheers to the women who play today.

March Madness is also about some schizophrenic decor issues....
you know....the clash between the Easter Bunnies and the St. Patrick's Day Leprechauns. 

Sadly, those Leprechauns are always out of  the race in the first round!
The Easter Bunnies are still in the race for the next rounds of play!
But for now, I thought you would like to see the highlights of the decor for both teams.

Team Leprechaun!
The components:
A print of The river dyed green in Chicago.
Copper accents with a Shamrock plant in one.
Some Celtic looking plaques.
A collage of photos from our trip this fall.
The coolest rock ever.....that looks so much like a potato that you could wrap it in foil and fool someone....not that I would ever do such a thing.

Team Bunnies!

 This little Dedham art pottery bunny sits happily in front of a framed page from a calendar.  You gotta love that floppy eared fellow.

On the mantel, there is another framed bunny along with the garden sculptures and some golden eggs for fun.  The vase and candle stick components will stay after the bunnies go back into storage.

 All the little stuffed animals the kids have gotten over the years come out.  The Grandboy and Grandgirl are sure to enjoy them this year.

There you have my subtle decor for both Team Leprechaun and Team Bunny.
Hope you enjoyed....

Now off to watch more Basketball....but before I go....

Here is my DIY tip of the day: Check out this website: CANVA.
When you sign up FOR FREE, you have access to create fabulous designs that you can download.  I used it to create this photo collage.  So fun!  Just imagine the possibilities!

 May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Have a Great Day!


Friday, March 2, 2018

When NOT to DIY....In Praise of Expertise! Part One!

Mr. S and I are confirmed DIYers.
Even if it means many trips to the hardware store....and lots of trial and error....we LOVE the feeling of a project well done by US!

A few months ago, we decided that our master bathroom had gotten pretty shabby after 25+ years of hard use.

 It wasn't AWFUL...just outdated with a few spots that were down right worn out!

We considered the option of doing a lot of the work ourselves.
We looked at the scope of the project.
We knew that Mr. S was still in recovery mode from his ankle replacement.
Even though we knew it would be more expensive to let the
experts take care of it...we GULP...decided that the DIY route wasn't in the cards for this remodel.

So....we hired a general contractor and put together a plan and got an estimate for the work.
The sticker shock was a bit hard to take....and then we thought about what was involved and decided to go for it!

It turns out that in this case....spending the money and relying on the experts was not just probably was a pretty cost effective way to go.

Let me tell you why!

The first set of experts that we used were the people at the Tile Shop.
We went in....told them what our vision was.....and let them lead the way!

In less than an hour.....with Mr. S wheeling his way through the shop on his tricycle...we were able to choose floor tile, shower tile and all the additional pieces.  The advice we got was superb.  Our "expert" listened to our "wants" for elegant mid-range tile that would stand the test of time.

 Then it was off to find the fixtures.....
We started at the logical spots Home Depot and Menards.  That was not the way to go!  While there were many was too overwhelming to put the package together.  Especially since I had my heart set on a free standing tub that was a good quality.  Many hours of on-line shopping and wandering around in a fog at the big box store....we headed to Fergusens.  This is a bath and kitchen source with a great show room.  We made an appointment for a consultation.  We shared our budget and design parameters and....Two hours later.....our salesperson guided us through the process and we had the whole kit and caboodle selected.  We got EXPERT advice and everything matches!  He even found the perfect free standing tub for way less money than I thought it would cost.

Lessons learned:
  • Do your you can tell those experts what you do like and what you don't like. This does mean lots of looking on line to see what is available.  That time pays off when you are actually making selections.
  • Set a price range and be willing to tell your expert what it is.  There is no shame in sticking to a budget.....but....if you fall in love with something see if there is something less expensive to be found.
  • Don't obsess....the choices were overwhelming....but really...once we decided on the gray marble look and the subway tile we could really shop price because the high end and low end aren't all that different.  As long as you talk can find a mid-range product that will work.  Making the decision to stay with one tile source and one fixture source saved us not just time....but money.
  • Listen and Learn...we found out so many things from these people about all the little things that were necessary and available...and how to save money as well.  If we had set out to do this without the advice we would have been making lots of trips to fix our mistakes.  Instead...we were able to have everything ready for the project to begin and stay on schedule.
Speaking of next post will take you through the actual construction and demonstrate how using experts made sense for us!
Would you believe that the whole project started a month ago and we are only waiting for the vanity counter to be completely finished?

 I can't wait to show you how it turned out!
Stay tuned....

Have A Great Day!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Round Up of Inexpensive Wall Art

 Finding great looking things to hang on the walls without spending a fortune can be a challenge.

But NOT having great looking things to hang on the walls would be just SAD!

When we travel, I love to shop in all the fancy art galleries we see.
I should clarify the word "SHOP" and change it to "LOOK".
Oh, how I would love to rationalize spending thousands of dollars on unique pieces of art!
Alas, I just can't do it!
My thrifty alter ego reminds me that there are other ways to have pretty things on the wall.

I decided to do a post about the many ways and many places you to find great "art" for you walls.
Since I have been doing this for more years than I want to tell you....I will take you on a "art walk" around Sweetwater as well as share some great ideas from some other thrifty folks.

First though.....about frames and framing.
One of the best sources for frames is the thrift store. 
Look past the questionable "ART" in the frame and imagine it with your own.
A little spray paint or touch up with a sharpie can make a battered frame look new.
If you don't have access to a mat cutter, look for standard sized frames.

One great source for art is those vacation photos you take.
This is an enlargement of the view from our hotel on our trip to Hong Kong.  I used a photo effect program for my iPad called Waterlogue to create the watercolor effect. 

Look for coffee table sized art books at the thrift store.  You won't feel bad tearing out a page that has a fabulous image.  Adding an oversized mat allows the image to look larger than it actually is.

Note cards or greeting cards with a theme can make a nice tryptic. I have to confess that since I wanted the images from the purchased cards to be bigger, I scanned and printed them larger.  It probably doesn't exactly follow copyright law...but I did buy them and didn't make them that much bigger.

Wrapping paper come in many beautiful patterns.  A lot of boutiques sell single poster sized sheets of paper.  This chocolate themed paper will be perfect as subtle valentine decor...althought the "real" thing might be tastier.

Framing a tea towel is a similar way to have a large image on the wall.  Keep an eye open for these when you are boutique shopping. Here are two different towels switched out for the season with new mats in the same frame.

Those of you who are frequent readers know my obsession with fabric.  Using a fabulous print as a wrap around a frame is a simple way to create large interesting pieces of art.

I did a little looking for some other sources for interesting and inexpensive art.

Check out  
There are really wonderful options for personalized art here.

Mr. S got this print as a gift from the Sweetwater Daughter.

She ordered it from this site. 

You just type in the place and a cool looking graphic is generated.

I think I might do one for our current location in blue.

Here are a couple of other people's blog posts about "cheap" art! 

So....anyway....that is my roundup of ways to have "luxury" art on a budget.
What are your suggestions?
I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Invisible Window Hanging Trick

Hmmm....I am an actually an APPLE person !

However, I do love the windows in our house.  

I love that many of our windows don't need to be covered.  The clean look of big tall gridded windows is something I love.

That is especially nice in the kitchen.  It is far enough away from things that privacy is not an issue.
But...and you knew there would be a BUT in there....that bare window sometimes calls for a little decoration.

Hanging things in the window without damaging the wood can be a challenge.
I have solved the problem in a pretty elegant and inexpensive way.
Of course....a tension rod would work....but I think you might agree that this looks even better.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best!

We took two little cup hooks....and screwed them to the underside of the upper window frame molding!
They can easily be removed and filled with a bit of wood putty and covered with a bit of stain!

Then Mr. S  went to work and cut a piece of stainless steel tube/rod that he had in HIS "stash".  
It slips into the cup hooks to make a sturdy bar to hang "Stuff" from!

 Even better would be to purchase a wooden dowel and stain it to match the woodwork.

I have been "just gonna do that" for a couple of years now.....

Here is the rod holding up the birch branch Heart...
The tutorial for making this is here:  How To Make A Birch Branch Heart

When I use this makes the wreath look like it is floating on the window.

The other nice thing....
If you don't have something to put in the window...the rod sort of disappears.

Now I am off to the store to buy a dowel so that it will match the window trim.
HMMMM....maybe I should do one for the front living room window too!

And some final window thoughts for you....


Have A Wonderful Day!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Simple Almost No Sew Custom Shower Curtain

A Long Long Time Ago.....
I posted about the no sew shower curtain in the guest bathroom.  The complete tutorial for how to do this can be found on the link.
This curtain really doesn't look bad.....but has been hanging around for over 7 years!  GASP!
 The dark brown walls will be staying for awhile.  We are redoing the master bath later on this month....and energy and budget for the guest bath just won't happen.

My challenge:  Find some way to freshen up the room with out spending too much time and little or no money!

If you are a regular reader, you know that for me, many projects start with a fabric inspiration!
Fabric stores are my happy place!
Speaking of happy....don't these little birds just make you smile?

I love the clean white background.
I love the multiple colors on the birds.
The green is bright and cheerful.
We can pretend the branches are brown...until we have time to paint!

 Here are the simple directions for an almost no sew shower curtain:

To make a shower curtain you will need 2 Lengths of fabric (typical drapery fabric is 54-60 inches wide).
1.  Four yards of fabric will give you enough fabric for a full looking curtain.

2. Cut the fabric in 2 pieces and seam them together (straight seam on the machine or fusible webbing will work...never tried to glue gun....but why not)

3. Cut a piece of fabric that is 8 inches wide from each of the pieces.....I cut this from the long sides of the fabric.  You will have 2 pieces that are 8 x 72.  Fold the strips to make tabs.  I don't sew has never seemed to be necessary.  Cut the folded strips into 8 inch pieces for use as the tabs.

4. Turn both of the sides of the big square in to make a smooth edge.  You can stitch or use fusible web for this.

5. Fold the top of the square down to make a 2 inch "hem".

6. Fold the tab pieces over and pin them to the top.  Space them 5 inches apart with a 3 inch "loop".

7.  Stitch across the top of the curtain at 1/2 inch down and 2 inches down.  This will secure the tabs.
I imagine you could do this with a glue gun too!

8.  Measure your curtain to make sure you know how long you want it....then turn up the bottom for a nice hem.

9. Hang the curtain by the tabs on a tension rod.  I have a regular shower rod with a liner behind the decorative one.

There you have it!

Then it was just a matter of "shopping the house" for some art and accents to fit the new decor.

I changed the mats on these little pictures to white for a brighter look.

This canvas has just the right color scheme for the new room.

The ceramic birds look right at home with their "friends"!

The new update was worth the couple of hours spent.
Even with new towels...I think the total cost was around $50!
My kind of decorating!

Have A Wonderful Day and Stay Warm!

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Do You Hygge ?

I keep coming across this word. I have a basic idea of the concept, but thought I should research it some more.  I sure don't want to miss out on the latest "trend" :).
Pronounced "hoo-ga," this word from the Danish is a concept that cannot be translated exactly to one single word.  It is a bunch of words: cozy, contentment, well-being and, enjoying the simple things in life.

According to the BBC, hygge is a means to cope with those brutal Nordic winters. Denmark can go dark for up to 17 hours a day during the worst of the season, and the average temperature is frequently around 32 degrees.
Wow! 32 degrees sounds like a heat wave! The temps here in Minnesota have been hovering around 0 degrees all week.
The holiday decor is put away for the most part.
I have a lousy cold!
Seems like a great time for some Hygee around here!

 It would be tempting to just pile up a bunch of stuff and make some nests!  That really doesn't embrace the style.  The goal is to create a serene but cozy atmosphere.  If you are like me....clutter  and serene are pretty much opposites!

In the spirit of "Use What I Have",  I decided to look for ways that we naturally do to embrace Hyggee.  Then I "shopped" the "stash" for things to use that will add more elements of Hygee to Sweetwater.
Coffee is pretty much a staple around here.
Well that is one staple....
And then there is wine!

This concept is truly one that embraces Hygee!

Throws and Pillows.....there are lots of these around here already.  A pile of couch pillows always call to me to come sit and relax with a magazine or a book.  There is usually a cat to add to the cozy feeling! I think the addition of the handwoven tapestry on the back of the white couch adds some texture.  The sofa pillows are the softest velvet....also pretty cozy!

Twinkle lights and candles....I was going to put my battery powered twinkle lights and candles away after the holidays.  I am so glad to have a reason to keep them on display!

Natural elements....Taking the obvious holiday items off the mantel and just leaving the natural greenery brings a touch of nature into the room.  This grapevine wreath with some touches of greenery is a leftover from the holidays that still looks nice.

Wardrobe...leggings, woolen sweaters and fleece lined slippers may not be the most elegant outfits...but they certainly embrace the sense of comfort that is Hygge.

Finding your spot....the photo below might just be the epitome of Hyge!  I found a bright sunlit window with a cozy throw and a special grandboy to spend some quality reading time with!  True joy!

Here is wishing you Hygge in your life!
I would love to hear how you find "comfort and a complete absence of frustration"!  Here's to a calmer 2018!

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