Revived Primitive Console

PRIMITIVE DRESSER

Calling this console ‘primitive’ is a bit of an understatement. No, it’s a HUGE understatement.

It was a hot mess.

It had decades of dirt embedded in both the exterior and interior and the wood was gouged in so many places it made my head hurt just thinking about how I was going to tackle this.

BUT…it was only $20, has great storage potential, and I knew I had the perfect spot for it. 

I found it a few months ago and since then it just sat waiting patiently while I moved on to FAR easier projects like this milk paint cabinet and my jewelry organizer (which, btw, I LOVE!).

 

dresser for storage

 

I really liked the color, and although the chippy finish was a bit extreme, I didn’t hate it. Not at all. In fact, I was tempted to just give it a good cleaning and call it a day. I was putting it in our basement which is decorated in a rustic cowboy/cowgirl theme so it would have been fine as is.

 

rustic dresser

 

The problem, or one of them, was the right side wasn’t painted in the same color as the rest of it.  I guess that side was up against a wall in its former life and whoever painted it turquoise didn’t think it was worth the trouble to move it. 

 

rustic dresser

So…since I knew I had to paint the side I decided to just give the entire piece a good cleaning and a new coat of turquoise paint. I got some TSP, a scrub brush and a toothbrush and got to work. I didn’t want to overwork this piece, though. As the title of this post implies, I just wanted to revive it.

Think a little botox, not a full on face lift.

mod podge dresser

 Notice the stellar paint job?

rustic console

The other issue with this piece was the condition of the top. When I found it, it had some metal shelving that was piled on top of it, and from the looks of it it was probably like that for years. Cleaning it only made a slight dent in the appearance, so I knew it was time to bring out the big guns. 

rustic dresser

So…I sprayed some paint stripper and left it overnight and this is what it looked like after I scraped off not one, not two, not three,

but four layers of paint.

 

Oh, and there was also some paper that had been glued on at some point and painted over. 

rustic console

I filled in some of the gouges with wood filler, put two coats of stain (Ipswich Pine) and two coats of Hemp Oil. The resulting finish is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, BUT, it’s very appropriate for the piece itself as well as the room it will be in. I wasn’t going for perfection. I wanted to clean it up and make it the best it could be under the circumstances.

Remember…botox, not surgery.

rustic dresser top 

For the outside I just gave it a quick coat of some turquoise paint and scruffed it up just a bit, but I was struggling with what I should do with the inside. I didn’t want to paint it the same as the outside but I didn’t want too much of a contrast. I looked at the painting that it would eventually be sitting under for inspiration and decided on blue. Then I remembered I had some wallpaper that I had gotten for free at a church sale last year which had shades of turquoise, some blue and lime green, so I cut it to size and used some Mod Podge to line the shelves.

I painted the back with two coats of blue paint I custom mixed, and the insides of the doors lime green and blue. (This picture was taken after one coat.)

rustic console

 There…isn’t she starting to look a little better?

rustic console

 

One of my favorite parts of this piece is the hardware. Rusty, but charming ;).

  

 dresser hardware

 

 dresserhardware

 

dresser-10

Here she is in her new home, which is actually our basement, aka Fisherman’s man cave. It’s a walk out, but this spot is tucked in a corner with very little natural light.  (It’s hard to tell but the sexy cowgirl’s vest is dark blue.) 

I think I’ll be putting photo albums inside, if I ever get around to sorting through the thousands of photos we have and organizing them! 

 rustic dresser

 

In ‘other news’, apparently my name isn’t ‘Doreen’. It’s Dor_ne. At least according to the Department of Health.  Remember when we moved and our important documents were stolen? Well, I ordered a new Birth Certificate and they told me their records show my name is spelled ‘Dor_ne’ and unless I give them certain obscure documents, i.e., a letter from the hospital where I was born, immunization records, a school admission form, etc. I will need to go to court to have my name legally changed to ‘Doreen’ if I want a Birth Certificate! Isn’t it bad enough everything was stolen, now this??! The hospital doesn’t keep records longer than 15 years (I called).

I don’t remember my name being spelled that way on my Birth Certificate, and I have been able to get a passport and driver’s license with my correct spelling, so WTH? I’ve requested they show me what their records look like, so we’ll see.

Thank goodness I have an expired Passport (the new one was stolen) so I can get another one using that and my driver’s license. We’re not planning on any overseas trips soon, but I think I better get on it nonetheless.

Then I can start organizing my photos…

 

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A Tour Through Blogland

  

WRITING 101-3 

I think I take the expression ‘better late than never’ a little too far. As always, I’m late to the blog tour party, but I’ve been having fun learning about new blogs and getting to know a bit more about bloggers I already know as well. I was invited by Tammy who blogs over at One More Time Events. Tammy and I cyber-met when we started doing weekly blog hops over a year ago and I’ve been a fan ever since. Tammy has super creative ideas that she loves to share with her readers, so be sure to check her out.

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I have to ask, aren’t these ‘feet’ adorable? This picture was taken last September while staying with a friend in Montauk. We took the rocks home and I’ve recreated it on our deck (sorry, I don’t have a picture at the moment. Just trust me).

 

20130921_180036

 

You know the drill, so here goes!

      Tag Sale Chair Update

1) What are you working on right now?

 

I think it would be easier to answer the question, what am I NOT working on right now!

I’m always working on a something. Sometimes it could be something small, like organizing the pantry, trying something new like this bowl, or sewing some easy pillows. Other times it could be a more time consuming project like this plaid, painted dresser or my favorite project so far, this brooch bouquet. Right now I’m focused on getting the space under our deck enclosed so it can be used for much needed storage, and I’m excited that this past weekend we started the process of having the area leveled.  Since we retired in April and essentially had to combine two households into one, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with organizing and getting the most out of the space I have and I’ll be sharing what I learned in upcoming posts.

When I’m not working on a house project, lately you can find me glued to the computer trying to learn as much as possible about LightRoom. It’s a huge learning curve for me! I’m convinced the technology Gods have it in for me. It’s like they all got together and said ‘what can we do to make Doreen’s life more frustrating?’ But I’m gonna keep on truckin!

 

unique planter

2) How does my work differ from others in this genre?

 

Is it any wonder this question was a tough one for a lot of bloggers? I don’t ‘work’, at least not in the traditional sense, and I don’t consider my blog ‘work’.  My blog is a crafts/home decorating/lifestyle blog. We all know there are thousands, no, actually tens of thousands of blogs that fall into that category so let’s face it, the only thing any blogger can claim is different about his/her blog is that it’s a reflection of them and their personal style. I enjoy sharing my life and my projects with my readers and can only hope it inspires some of my readers to stop thinking about doing projects and ‘just do it’, because as cliche as it sounds, if I can do it, anyone can!

 

april things to do

3) Why do I write/create what I do?

 

I started the blog as a hobby in the spring of 2012. It has since grown into something that means much more to me than just a hobby. I’ve always enjoyed writing as well as decorating. Blogging gives me the opportunity to combine the two, and as a huge added bonus I get to meet like minded people out in cyber space that I never in a million years would ever have come to know. I love sharing my life at our little cabin and diy adventures with all of you, and really, are there any nicer people out there than bloggers? I think not!

spring tables

 

4) How does your writing/creating process work?

 

When I first started blogging two years ago, I was far more regimented and organized about the blogging process. I wanted to make sure I was posting at least 2-3 times a week because that’s what the ‘experts’ recommended, but that started to feel more like a job and was getting, well, old.

I’m not monetized nor do I necessarily have the desire to go in that direction so I’ve become much more relaxed about what I blog about and how often. Sometimes I will know what I will blog about if there’s a particular project I’m working on, but oftentimes I blog spontaneously. That’s actually counter intuitive for me because I’m typically a huge list maker and planner but when it comes to blogging I think it would take a lot of the fun out of it if I over planned things or worse, was pressured to pump out a certain number of posts a week. I know if I ever want to make money off of blogging that mindset will have to change, but for now, especially in the good ol’ summertime, I’m taking it nice and easy.

The enclosed porch, pictured below, is one of my favorite spaces at the cabin. It’s while hanging out here that I get much of my inspiration, read and comment on other blogs, check my email and maybe Facebook. I’ve pretty much given up on Twitter (never could quite ‘get it’) and Google+ is a bit of a puzzle that’s missing a few pieces to me so I’ve moved on and rarely post there or interact. It was actually liberating! At other times sometimes I’ll watch some tv, read or talk on the phone in this space and with the possible exception of my craft room, it’s what I cherish most about living at the cabin.

 

screened in porch

So, now that I’ve shared a little bit about myself. It’s time to make room for two of the loveliest bloggers I know. They will participate in this tour next Monday, July 21st. These are blogs that I love to visit and I know you will too.

orange tulips

Jane, who blogs over at ‘Blondie’s Journals’ is a a Midwestern sweetheart of a lady, who now lives in a quiet & beautiful neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. She loves to garden, read, try new recipes, go antiquing, decorating, and needlework crafts. Jane has a year round home in the country on a huge lake in Southwest Michigan where you will find her doing all these things and more, and telling her readers all about it as only ‘Blondie’ can do!

peonies

Cindy, who blogs over at Cloches and Lavender, grew up and lives in New Jersey. She’s been happily married for 24 years and is a Momma to two miniature dachshunds, Peanut and Reeses, which are the love of her life.

Cindy and her husband recently built their dream home, and she’s thrilled to have a blank slate to decorate, and from what I’ve seen so far, she’s doing a fabulous job! I’m sooooooo jealous!

mason jar

 

I hope you enjoyed the tour everyone, and don’t forget to check out Cynthia’s and ‘Blondie’s’ tours next Monday, the 21st!

Till  next time… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Make Your Photos Pop Using a Lightbox

 

 

 

lightbox

 

I’ve been a bit frustrated with my food photos from time to time. I look at the beautiful, tempting food photos in magazines and Pinterest and wondered what the secret was. But it really isn’t a secret.

When it comes to photography, lighting is everything, and that’s never more true than in food photography. While some of my photos have been ok, more often than not they looked like this:

 

 

cassata pie

 

This picture was taken a little more than a year ago, just before I purchased a DSLR. While my current camera makes it a little easier to get good photos, it can’t compensate for poor lighting. If your lighting is poor, your pictures will be as well.  In the above picture the lighting is flat and lacks depth, and it certainly doesn’t make you want to try this recipe. (In case I’m wrong and you do, you can find it here. It’s DELICIOUS!)

I did some research and quickly learned that a lightbox is single handledly the most important tool to help you achieve optimal light conditions and found a pretty good tutorial on how to make one. Unfortunately, the blog where I found the tutorial is closing soon but for now at least you can go here to get the precise details on how to make one if you think you’d like to give this project a try.

Professional food photographers use fancy, expensive lightboxes, that can easily cost upwards of $100, and if you’re a professional photographer that would be money well spent. But I’m not and it’s a safe bet I never will be. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want my pictures to be the best they can, and I’m willing to bet you feel the same way.

With just a little bit of effort and not much expense, you can put together a lightbox that will improve your photos dramatically, and as an added bonus it won’t take up much space because when you’re done you just fold it up and it stores flat. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

5 pieces of foam board (I used 24″ x 18″)

A Pencil

A Carpenter’s Square or Ruler and Measuring Tape

A Sharp Cutting Knife

A Cutting Mat

lightbox

 

Get yourself a nice large surface and place the boards flat, marking each one board so you will know where it goes, i.e., Left, Right, Back, Top and Bottom. (These marks will ultimately face the outside of the lightbox, NOT the inside.) Put the bottom board away for now since it doesn’t need to be marked or modified in any way.

With your ruler mark your boards as shown below. The lines should be approximately 1 inch from the edges. I apologize for the small illustrations, but hopefully you can see that the one on the bottom left will be the left board, the one in the middle will be the back, the one on the right will be the right side of the box and the top illustration represents the top board. So in essence the top and back get lines on three sides while the left and right on two sides. 

 

Untitled-6

Source 

 

After you’re finished with your lines, in two inch increments, starting at the bottom or corner of each of the boards, make a mark and then shade every other ‘box’ as shown. Next, you should cut out the shaded notches. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you’re basically making a puzzle. 

Although the tutorial I followed was a good one, it wasn’t perfect and to help make your lives a little easier, I strongly suggest you make certain the notches are as they should be with each step. In other words, after you cut out the notches on your first board, make sure BEFORE you cut your second that the notches will line up with it.

lightbox

The box will look something like this when you’re done. In case you’re wondering, I decided to cut out the sides and taped some vellum to allow for more light to come in. This is totally optional. Notice the shadows? That’s exactly what you DON’T want! I didn’t have portable lights to shine into the box which would have helped tremendously with this issue so I got creative and removed the top, turned off the lights and changed the settings on my camera to compensate and I was good to go.

lightbox 

lightbox

 Here’s a photo taken without the lightbox. 

lightbox

And here’s a photo with it using the same lighting conditions, same camera settings and same post processing edits. Pretty impressive, right? 

lightbox

 

And here’s the lightbox being stored under my work table, and yes, I know it’s a mess. That’s why I cover it when not in use ;).   

lightbox

 

You don’t necessarily need a lightbox just for photos of food. It would work nicely for small craft projects too! If you’re in the business of selling items like jewelry and you have an Etsy shop, this would come in super handy!

lightbox

 

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, how was your holiday weekend? Did you have good weather? We are starting the process of looking for RV’s and saw one we liked but we’re not ready to pull the trigger yet.  On the 4th we went to Tanglewood to see James Taylor. It had been raining all day so we weren’t able to picnic on the grounds as planned, and they cancelled the fireworks which was disappointing, but he was great. At 66, he still sounds just like he did when he was 25. 

Today and yesterday we had beautiful weather and took advantage of it. We saw an outdoor concert with a large lake as the backdrop and it was beautiful!  I rarely take my camera when we go anywhere. I figure I can use my cell phone, but one of the bad things that happened was my cell phone got wet and died. I tried keeping it in rice but it didn’t work, so we’re off to get a new phone tomorrow. I’ve been wanting to get an iPhone for a while. I have a Samsung Android and can’t say I’m a fan and luckily my phone is insured so it’s time for an upgrade :). 

Not sure if you’ve noticed but I’m posting less these days. Once a week seems to be a good pace for me, at least for now. I want to enjoy the weather and not spend my time in front of a keyboard. How often do you post? Whatever it is, would you like to post more or less? Do you slow things down a bit in the summer?

 

Metamorphosis Monday

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How I Organized My Jewelry

I’m not a huge jewelry person.

Not by any means. 

But you wouldn’t know it by looking at my stash of necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Yet…I pretty much wear the same necklace and earrings 90% of the time.

HOMASOTE JEWELRY BOARD

 

I started to think that maybe that’s because the majority of my jewelry was buried. Most of it was in a drawer in individual small boxes and I didn’t know what was inside unless I opened the box, which I never did so the jewelry just sat there unused year after year.

My closet is a small walk in, and the wall that faces you when you enter wasn’t being put to good use. I did some research and realized that homasote would be a great material to use as a board to store my jewelry. It’s not too heavy, you can easily poke holes in it, and it’s relatively inexpensive.  We ended up paying around $28 for a 4×8 board at Home Depot and had them cut it for us. I ended up with two 2×6 pieces and one 2×4. I used the smaller piece for this project and that worked out perfectly for my needs.

I began by cutting the burlap a few inches larger than the homasote on each side and stapling in place.

 

jewelry storage

 

For the actual jewelry holders, I wanted to use something that was somewhat decorative, so I used up almost all my stash of cabinet hardware for this project, as well as some burlap that I got on sale last year. (I still have about 18 yards left!). I used an owl and mallet to make holes in the homasote in random places. You can also use hook eyes to hold your jewelry in which case you can put them on once the homasote is on your wall, but since the knobs needed to be screwed in from behind I didn’t have that option.

jewelry storage

 

 I even used a door stop! The good thing about that is it works well for holding bracelets or even rings. (I took off the ugly rubber end and glued a pretty button on instead). Think outside the box. Anything that can be screwed in can work.

 

homosote jewelry storage

 

After I was finished with the knobs, Fisherman screwed the homasote into the wall studs on all four corners so it’s nice and secure.

You see those two ‘birds’? I was thinking of using those on the cabinet I showed you last week which you can see here, but quickly realized they wouldn’t be facing each other and that would look weird, besides, I really like the white ones better anyway.

 

jewelry storage

 

Knobs work great for necklaces, but earrings, not so much. I had this silver horizontal piece that you see which previously was used in the kitchen to hold utensils near the stove top, and it works nicely for earrings that have hoops. For post earrings you can simply stick them in the homasote, but consider giving them a quick wipe with alcohol before placing them in your ear. 

 

jewelry storage

 

I’ve already worn a couple of necklaces that I never wore before simply because they were right in front of my face, demanding my attention. I love being able to see everything at a glance, and although not ALL my jewelry is here (I still have lots of things housed in ‘the little black dress‘ from The Container Store and my dressier pieces are in the boxes I mentioned, but this time they’re labeled!), most of my everyday stuff is out and in plain view. 

Pins and brooches can easily just be pinned onto the fabric too! That brooch on the top left belongs to my daughter’s MIL. She gave that to me to potentially use it in the brooch bouquet but I didn’t end up using it. I need to give that back to her!

 

jewelry storage

 

All in, this project cost less than $30 because I had everything except the homasote. If you don’t have anything to start with, you can get around 50 hook eyes for less than $5.00 and probably pick up some fabric inexpensively too (or just come over…I have burlap!) and still do this project really inexpensively.

So what’s YOUR jewelry story? Do you like to wear different pieces often, or do you stick with the tried and true? How about storing jewelry? Any tips you can share?

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My First Milk Paint Project!

This is the story of a cabinet. A lonely, sad, neglected cabinet. A cabinet that was crying out for love and attention. Hidden away in the dark recesses of an obscure booth at Brimfield, you would have most likely passed it by.  I almost did. I was nearly desperate for some functional storage in our master bath. You see, a couple of months ago we were faced with having to combine two households into one. That’s double the shampoo, double the toothpaste, double the everything. And unlike some clothes and furniture, these aren’t the kind of things one gives away or worse, throws out.   

BATHROOM CABINET

But this isn’t just the story of how I redid this cabinet. It’s the story of how a $20 cabinet became, dare I say it, nearly a $100 cabinet.  It’s not because I bought super expensive paint or finishing hardware mind you. It’s not because the paper I used to line it was expensive. And it’s certainly not because I hired someone else to paint it.  It’s because I screwed up. Here it is, in all its glory. Dirty, dusty and dank. The back of the cabinet is particleboard, as are the shelves, which are three shy of a full set and disgusting! I wasn’t deterred. I had plans.

Big plans. 

  milk paint cabinet   pine cabinet

After cleaning it, I searched my stained glass stash and found the right color (green) glass panel and got to work. I needed 10 pieces about 8″ long by 3″ wide. As luck would have it, I only had enough glass for 9. But guess what? It didn’t matter because I ended up not liking the look of the green shelves. So back I went to my glass stash (say that fast three times) and found several pieces of clear glass which is exactly the look I was going for. Clean and bright.

Here’s where things get dicey. My glass cutter wasn’t doing the job. The glass is 1/4″ thick, and I thought that might be the issue. Well, Fisherman was heading to NY one day so I asked him to get some glass and to have the 10 pieces cut as well. The person who cuts the glass wasn’t there, so he came home with a large piece of glass that was, you guessed it, 1/4″ thick. And did I mention the glass was $35?

Soooooo..I found someone who is local (and by local I mean 20 minutes away…this is, after all, the boonies) and he cut the glass for $20. But guess what? The reason I wasn’t able to cut the original clear glass that I had was not because my cutter was insufficient, it was because the glass was tempered! In other words, I could have cut the $35 piece easily and saved the $20. I only figured that out after the glass cutter asked if the glass we brought in was tempered, and there was some leftover glass which I experimented on and I cut it like buttahhhhh. And…I didn’t need 1/4″ glass to begin with, 1/8″ would have been sufficient and cheaper. 

I actually started the painting process a few weeks ago, but the cabinet took a back seat to some wedding preparations. I used MMSMP Ironstone and Boxwood and I have to say I absolutely love this paint! The only thing I would say is you definitely want some kind of blender to mix it up. I was so mad at myself for giving away a blender after our move because I figured I didn’t need two. Wrong!  (I also gave it two coats of Hemp Oil and one coat of clear wax.) I was going for a mostly whitish look with a touch of green to coordinate with the paper I was planning on lining the middle section with. I used the same paper to make some lampshades not too long ago for our master bedroom and since this is the master bath and I had some paper leftover I figured why not put it to good use and cover up that ugly particleboard?

milk paint cabinet

I know it looks like a 5 year old painted this, but particleboard is a pita to paint, plus it was going to be covered anyway. Thank goodness for that!

painted pine cabinet

 

I cut the paper to size and used some Mod Podge to adhere it to the back.  Now we’re cookin’ and I’m finally starting to see things come together! You gotta love your Mod Podge! (I fell in love with it years ago and was thrilled last year when this bowl was featured on their site!)  

cabinet redone

I already had these knobs so I gave them a try. I really like the velvet ribbon and the medallion but I wasn’t thrilled with the gold on the knobs so I went to my favorite store for knobs, Hobby Lobby, and changed them up.

pine cabinet milk paint

These knobs go well with the claw foot tub ‘feet’ which you can see in this post and I really like the chippy look. And they were so inexpensive! Only $2.50 each on sale! Finally something went my way!

pine cabinet redo      pine cabinet

I was able to get everything I wanted in the cabinet perfectly! It’s just the right size for what we needed. We do have a good sized double vanity and a small medicine cabinet where we put the items we use everyday, but I wanted something that could house our extra stuff and be easily accessible. This cabinet sits directly next to the tub, on the opposite wall of the vanity. (I’ll most likely do a follow up post on how I organized everything in the bath, but I’m waiting for Fisherman to do one last project before I do that.)  Oh, and did I mention we were going to initially put the cabinet on the wall? After thinking about it, it didn’t seem like that would be a good idea. The particleboard probably wouldn’t have been able to withstand the weight. Without any items inside, the cabinet weighs about 25 lbs. I think this piece wasn’t designed for a wall anyway. Take a look at the bottom. Doesn’t it look like at one time it might have been on top of another piece of furniture? 

bathroom cabinet 

I’m very happy with where it is anyway, so no matter. Sometimes plans change and you just have to roll with the punches. (If you look closely you can see the shelves in the middle also have glass. There was some glass leftover after the smaller pieces were cut and I was able to get enough out of it to do the trick.) 

milk paint cabinet

So this once lonely, dirty and sad cabinet now sits happily in our master bath and not only am I happy my stuff has found a home, but I’m happy to have finally used MMSMP and can say without any shadow of a doubt I really like this paint. If you want to give it a try there are sample bags you can purchase for just a few dollars. You would only be able to cover a small object, but it would be a great way to get a feel for the paint before you invest in a full bag which is $22.00. One of the great things about this paint is it comes in a powder form so you never have to worry about it drying up. Just mix up what you need and store the rest indefinitely.

BEFORE/AFTER

Have you ever tried milk paint? How about chalk paint? If you have used both, which do you prefer? I’ve used ASCP on this project and a few others and like that as well. The end products are similar but with subtle differences. The ASCP is, simply put, ‘chalky’ while the milk paint seems to have more of an old world look. Just depends on the look you’re going for. I’m on to the next project. Now that my toiletries have found a home, my jewelry is next. Stay tuned…  

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Inspire Me Tuesday

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Thursday Favorite Things

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Metamorphosis Monday

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Brooch Bouquet Reveal!

Our daughter’s wedding was yesterday. It was a magical day, full of love and beauty everywhere you looked.

As some of you know, I’ve been working on a brooch bouquet for months. I began gathering brooches last May beginning at Brimfield, and since then have visited countless antique stores, consignment shops and just about any store in between that sold jewelry.

Any kind of jewelry was fair game, not just traditional brooches. Hair combs, earrings, buttons, you name it. If a wire could fit and it was pretty, it was coming home with me.

The bouquet satisfied all the traditional requirements of ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’. Many of the brooches are vintage, many are new, and one has a touch of blue. For the ‘borrowed’, I temporarily placed the pearl bracelet I wore when I got married. I also added a pearl choker with a marquesite center which I wore on my wedding day nearly 31 years ago. You can see the pearl portion of that choker below, however the marquesite is mostly hidden, but you can get a peak at it here or here.

 

Brooch Bouquet

Some of the brooches were given to us by generous friends, as well as our daughter’s mother-in-law, making it all the more special and meaningful. This bouquet is a true heirloom in every sense of the word.

It’s by far my proudest ‘diy’ project.

brooch bouquet

 

brooch bouquet

The long pearl ‘brooch’ is actually a hair clip, and I believe was my daughter’s personal favorite. Just to the left is the brooch that has a tiny bit of blue in it. In total, there were about 100 brooches and the bouquet weighed about 10 lbs. And just in case you’re wondering, it’s definitely not something that would get thrown. ;) 

brooch bouquet

Some of her dress fabric was given to me by the seamstress during the alternation process and I used it to make some fabric flowers. In the center I placed a crystal pin. This helped anchor it and also give it more of the look of a flower.  

brooch bouquet

It’s hard for me to say which brooch is my favorite. There are so many that are simply stunning it’s impossible to decide! Some are small, some are large. Some are simple, some are complex. But the one thing they all have in common is they’re stunning!

brooch bouquet

Oftentimes diy wedding projects consist of burlap, mason jars and hydrangea flowers. As much as I love that look (and I know most of you do too), it’s about as far from our daughter’s style as Mercury is from Pluto. I kept that in mind when putting together the details for her wedding. This money box was purchased at a flea market for $3.00. I added an inexpensive brooch and some bling detailing and called it a day, proving you don’t have to spend a lot to achieve an elegant look.

wedding box

The bridesmaids wore pale tulle dresses with black lace overlays. I found some lace ribbon at Brimfield and added some inexpensive buttons which tied everything together. 

bridesmaids gifts

A few out of town guests stayed at the same hotel we were at and they each received personalized baskets that consisted of cowboy bark, caramel popcorn, Caswell & Massey bath products, regular and flavored water and the most amazing silver metallic covered almonds pictured below, bottom right. Yes, they’re edible!

Gift Basket

No two baskets were exactly alike, both in their contents and how they were decorated. I tried to keep in mind each couple’s personalities as best I could. I used whatever ribbon I had and purchased the baskets at the Dollar Store for a couple of dollars each. Which reminds me…don’t you think it’s time they stopped calling themselves Dollar Stores? Nothing is a dollar anymore anyway!

Gift Baskets

  

Now back to the star of this post, the bouquet. I had, of course, never made a brooch bouquet before and didn’t know quite what I was getting into. They are a LOT of work, but definitely a worthwhile endeavor, and it was a true labor of love.

And I’m sure you will agree, so worth it!

brooch bouquet

 

Sharing At

Inspire Me Tuesday 

Tweak It Tuesday

What’s It Wednesday

Thursday’s Favorite Things

The Scoop

A Bouquet of Talent

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Cowboy Bark-Trader Joe’s Copycat Recipe

 Last week while shopping at Trader Joe’s they were sampling some Cowboy Bark. Needless to say it was my lucky day. Have you ever tried it? It’s completely and utterly addictive! 

 

cowboy bark

If you’re like me and love a salty-sweet treat, then file this one in your ‘must try’ recipe box.  This is a ‘no bake’ recipe, takes just a few minutes to put together and has zero calories! 

Ok, so two out of three ain’t bad. If I can have a few pieces of this stuff a week before my daughter’s wedding, you can too. You have my permission.

 

chocolate

After leaving Trader Joe’s with a sugar high, I did what any self-respecting blogger would do. I headed over to Pinterest and did a search for Cowboy Bark. There were several results, but the clear contender was a recipe on Averiecooks. Her blog is awesome, her photography superb (I even copied her styling), and her recipes are TO-DIE FOR! So here I am, copying a recipe from someone who ‘copied’ a recipe. Doesn’t get any more authentic than that ;).  

This delectable concoction is simply a combo of chocolate, toffee, peanuts, almonds, pretzels, oreos and sea salt. The combination of the soft, sweet chocolate with the crunchy, salty goodness of the pretzels and nuts is heaven on earth.  For the chocolate, just use your favorite dark chocolate. I used Callebaut, but any will do as long as it’s good quality. If you prefer, you can mix in some milk chocolate if you’re not a bittersweet chocolate junkie like moi. (Using a combination of chocolate would actually make it more similar to TJ’s recipe.)

cowboy bark

 

chocolate snacks

 

cowboy bark

 

cowboy bark

I decided to put some of the bark in the ‘Welcome Baskets’ at the wedding. Now don’t you wish you were invited??

Cowboy Bark
A decadent, salty-sweet chocolate treat
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Print
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 16 ounces of dark, good quality chocolate
  2. 1 1/2 cups mini pretzels
  3. 8 chocolate-stuffed oreos, roughly chopped
  4. 1/3 cup toffee bits
  5. 1/3 cup coarsely chopped peanuts, lightly salted
  6. 1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds, lightly salted
  7. sea salt
Instructions
  1. 1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Prepare all your ingredients BEFORE melting your chocolate. This is important. If you wait until after you pour your melted chocolate to chop your ingredients, the chocolate won't be soft enough for the ingredients to take hold. I placed the nuts in a zip lock bag and banged away with a mallet until the desired consistency was reached and just roughly chopped the oreos and toffee.
  2. 2. Chop the chocolate into manageable chunks so it will melt easily.
  3. 3. Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 2-3 minutes, checking and stirring every 15 secs or so. I used a double boiler for this step, but if you don't have one or prefer the microwave method, no problem.
  4. 4. Pour the melted chocolate onto the paper and with an offset spatula or spatula, smooth into a large rectangle about 1/8 thick.
  5. 5. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate with all of the remaining ingredients.
  6. 6. If you have time and can stand waiting before tasting, let the chocolate set at room temperature for about an hour. It may take longer depending on humidity levels. I waited an hour on a muggy, humid day then placed it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Should have done that in the first place.
  7. 7. Once set, break into pieces. The bark will keep if kept in an airtight containers for several weeks. If you decide to freeze or refrigerate them, you'll have several months to enjoy it. Not that they'll last that long...
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A Mickey Mouse Themed Party!

Last Saturday we took a drive to NY to celebrate Maddox’s 4th birthday. You remember him, don’t you? The cutest little boy ever??

The party’s theme was ‘Mickey Mouse’ this year, so naturally the colors were mostly red, black and white with some yellow thrown in for some pop.

four year old party

Maddox couldn’t be more different than his older brother Mikey. He was very explicit about not wanting toys for his birthday…just ‘cool clothes’. As you can see, he’s one cool kid, and apparently, he knows it.

four year old party

Maddox’s mom Michelle is in her element when she gives a party. She leaves no detail to chance, and spends weeks planning the theme and executing it to perfection. Luckily, in spite of some light rain early on, it turned out to be a nice day so all her hard work didn’t go to waste.

mickey mouse party

What’s a party without ‘milk shots’? 

mickey mouse party

Or some Margarita’s for the ‘old kids’?

four year old party

 

mickey mouse party

She even put labels on the water bottles! 

mickey mouse party

 

mickey mouse party

 

mickey mouse party

 

four year old theme party 

 

four year old party

 

party decorations

 Some ‘oreo’ cookies in red and black. I didn’t have any, but they look fabulous!

party decorations

 

mickey mouse party

party decorations

When I was little and had a birthday party, we had cake and pin the tail on the donkey for entertainment. That’s pretty much it. At least that’s all I remember. Things have gotten so much more elaborate these days, but for someone who has a creative streak like Michelle, that’s a good thing! For some of us, a call to the bakery is about as creative as we get ;). 

Did you have birthday parties when you were little? What about now that you’re older? How do you celebrate your special day?

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A Brimfield Field Trip

I’ve posted about Brimfield a few times since I started blogging two years ago. I hope I’m not boring you! I guess I just feel it’s one of the coolest antique fairs ever and I want to encourage EVERYONE to attend at least once.  The fair happens three times a year, in May, July and September and usually lasts for 6 days. Vendors come from all over the country and there’s truly something for everyone, so let’s get to it!

I know I’m not the only one who has a thing for antique cash registers, and this one is a beauty!

antique typewriter

 

And what do you think about this stove? I’m pretty sure it still works too!

 antique stove

I thought this swing made entirely from wood slabs was clever, and it would go perfectly in the yard at the cabin!

swing

This was one of my favorite pieces of the day. I love the colors and fabric choices, and I could totally see this in a little girl’s room. How pretty!

patchwork chair

I know some of you probably know what this is, but I don’t. All I know is these pieces were super expensive!

green dishes

How cute is this little ‘toy’ fridge?

mickey mouse

Another one of my favorite upholstered pieces. Don’t you just love this?

settee

Although this is a chandelier, I envision it as a crown for some well deserving diy’er ;)

antique crown

Less than two weeks now to the wedding! Yesterday we went to NY for Maddox’s 4th birthday, then met up with friend’s for dinner. We didn’t get home till 2 a.m. but it’s looking like a lovely day so I’m up early and I think I’ll work on the cabinet outside. Our daughter’s flying in today and Tuesday I’m heading to Manhattan for her fitting, then we’ll be back in NY next weekend for Mikey’s 11th birthday, then again the following Thursday for the rehearsal dinner and we’ll stay down there until after the wedding. I think we’re spending more time in NY now then when we lived there :/.

 

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Memorial Weekend

We’re finally getting some warm weather here in the NE corner of the States and it’s a looooong time coming!  

There’s nothing like having guests for motivating us to get the house cleaned up. We spent last Wednesday doing some much needed cleaning around the house, then Thursday I ventured out to a local plant farm and purchased these beauties:

meadow view farm hanging plants

 

hanging plants

I simply couldn’t resist the cone shaped baskets. I got three and hung them from our front porch. In the past, it was difficult to get plants like these since we weren’t here full time and the plants would have been neglected.

I like to display items in odd numbers. They say that it’s more pleasing to look at and I have to agree.

hanging plants

Friday night our friend left a message that there was a little silver bullet type trailer up the road from us that was free! I’m sure it needed lots of work, but I was nonetheless excited to check it out. Unfortunately by Saturday some lucky person had grabbed it up. :( It would have been so much fun to fix it up retro style, and you can’t beat free.

Sunday morning was the local parade. I love old cars, don’t you? 

memorial parade

memorial day parade

antique cars

This was the second turquoise car in a week that I saw and I’m really loving this color! Do you like old cars too? My first car was a 69′ Camaro. I’m sorry I ever sold it, because it would be worth mucho bucks now. It was blue with a white stripe on the sides and a standard transmission. 

turquoise car

memorial day parade

small town parade

small town parade

memorial day parade

memorial day parade

After the parade we took our friends up the road to a place that sells perennials on the honor system. That’s the way some businesses operate here, and it never ceases to amaze this former native New Yorker ;). 

Sunday night we grilled some burgers, corn and sweet potato fries and later had a bonfire. In eight years, that was only the second bonfire we’ve ever had. We currently have it located in a not so great spot…that’s a project waiting to happen.

The sweet potatoes were cooked in a way I’ve never done before and I think the way I prepared them is worth passing on to you all…

Place the whole potato(s) in water and boil until slightly tender. Let cool slightly, cut into fries and place in a bowl with vegetable oil (you can use any kind of oil), brown sugar to taste and a bit of cayenne pepper, then grill. Top them off with some salt if desired. This method insures the inside of the potato gets cooked properly, which is something I’ve always found a bit challenging.

On Monday after our friends left I started baking some chocolate biscotti. I’ve decided to give them as favors at the wedding in three weeks, so I’ll need to get busy! I’ve got Physical Therapy today and my dress fitting tomorrow, but I hope to get started on the bathroom cabinet this week.  It seems I’m busier now that I’m retired! 

 

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