Thursday, May 28, 2009


Today is Nester's Lampapalooza Party. Here's what I've got to show you . . .

Here's the thrift store lamp I bought for a couple bucks. This picture does not do its ugliness justice. A couple coats of oil rubbed bronze spray paint, add a new lampshade from my closet, throw a tassel at it . . .

Not bad!
Next up, my bathroom chandelier:
I love it, but I hated the chain. I really wanted to sew one of those cute cord covers but didn't have time. So I broke out the hot glue gun.

I cut a very long piece of extra fabric I had sitting in my "to do" pile, and I glued that sucker right on.
Well, I didn't actually glue it to the chain, but I did fold a little hem and glued that. Then I slipped it on the chain.
Can't even tell, can you? My one piece of advice if you try this is, try to go light on the hot glue. It's difficult to get the fabric to bunch up naturally if there is too much glue on it.
This is the most recent addition:
Mr. Jones replaced the nasty builder-brass lights out front. They were pretty cheap, and it made a huge difference.
For more Lampapalooza, stop by Nesting Place.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WFMW - Changing the Trash Bag Faster

Here's a little tip to help you change the trash bag just a little faster when you take out the trash:

Have the kids do it.

Just kidding.

That isn't faster or easier.

Keep a bunch of new bags in the bottom of the trash can.

You don't have to dig a new one out of the cupboard every time you take out the trash. It's just a little bit of time and effort you're saving, but it's nice. Trust me.

You guys probably already do this because you're smart. I'm sure I'm the last one who has figured it out. We were visiting at some friends' house and I saw my buddy reach into her big, tall trash can and come out with a clean bag. Hmmmmm.

For more What Works for Me Tips, stop by We are THAT Family.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Free Furniture

Rhoda at Southern Hospitality asked us to share our thrifty treasures from this week. Does free count as thrifty? Oh, yes, I think it does. Woohooo woohoooo.
I stopped by my friend, Laura's house last week to look at what colors she is painting her basement, and I spied a lonely piece of furniture off in the corner. I freaked because it has some serious potential. She told me she was trying to get rid of it and couldn't. I could have it. For free. I freaked again.
The guys have been teasing poor Miss Laura because they think it is junk. I knew right away what she had seen in this piece when she found it on the roadside years ago. She should get an award for saving it. I'm going to send pictures to all the guys who teased her. They won't even recognize it when I'm done. I can't wait to drench it in paint. I already have some beautiful knobs for it.

The only catch was, I had to get it out of their basement. No problem. Mr. Jones was patient with me. He doesn't see the potential, but he trusts in my vision. He learned to do that when I painted this little desk that looked like trash.

Do you see the vision, too?

Stop by Rhoda's blog for more thrifty finds.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Got Epsom Salt?

Have you ever heard of all the things you can do with Epsom Salt? I had no idea what the stuff was, until I had a conversation with the plant manager at Lowe's. Lowe's always has great sale racks of plants at the very back of the plant department. A lot of times, the plants look pretty sick and wilted. The guy told me, just mix some epsom salt in with water and water the plant with it after you stick it in the ground. It worked! It helps them recover and grow nice and healthy. I had no idea.

So I looked it up on the internet, and it turns out, epsom salt is a great thing to use regularly on all your plants. Apparently, even Martha uses it. For more on using it for your plants (like why and how much), check out this and this.

I noticed that the epsom salt looks a lot like sand because it has big grains, not tiny ones like table salt. I always use this for my hurricanes. Much cheaper than buying pretty white sand.

You can also do things like keep away racoons, soften your skin, and clean tile floors with epsom salt. Go here, here or here to see more ideas.

I'm going to give some of them a try, and I'll let you know if it works.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Little Things I Love

Today is Beautiful Life Friday at The Inspired Room. Here are some little things I love:
Mary Janes. I love them. My feet love them.
My new $49 vacuum cleaner that kicked my Dyson's butt. Kicked it all over the place. (More on that to come in my vacuum cleaner challenge post).
Morning sun on your face.
My constant companion.
The reason I need a kick butt vacuum cleaner.
Cute Corgi ears.

Stop by The Inspired Room for more Beautiful Life Friday inspiration.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When I Run Out of Milk

Do you ever make a pot of coffee in the morning, go to the fridge to get the milk, and Oh, man, no more milk? Or when you're fixing cereal for the kiddos before school? Or when you get home late from vacation? Or you're cooking something?

I don't know about your family, but ours must drink 50 gallons a week. We should have our own cow. (By the way, Costco has the best price on milk in my area. It's about $2.00 less than grocery stores! Yay, Costco!)

Here's what I do:

Before my milk emergency (an emergency because I do not drink coffee without milk), I buy a couple of those little cartons of regular milk and stick them in the freezer. When my coffee emergency happens, I run to the fridge. It is important to get small cartons, because it takes a lot longer to defrost the big cartons. You could also just freeze milk in some small containers. Easy Peasy.

I also buy a couple cans of Carnation Evaporated Milk. It's milk for cooking. It doesn't need a fridge. It's there when you need it.

Just a little bit of planning is all it takes. For more tips, stop by We are THAT Family for What Works for Me Wednesday.

One more thing ... any American Idol fans out there? Did you watch last night? I really wish they would stop making them sing the generic one-size-doesn't-fit-all song as the last song of every season. The songs are lame. They never sound good. It's insanely anti-climactic.

So what do you think? Who are you votin' for? My vote is for Kris. Adam is talented and was my favorite for a while. But at some point, I felt like he was the same every week. Kris gets better every single week. I look forward to seeing what he does. We'll see tonight!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm joining I'm an Organizing Junkie today for Menu Plan Monday. Here's what I've got cookin' this week:

Baked Spaghetti, Salad and Garlic Bread

Chicken Fettucini, Salad

Hamburgers and Corn

Mango Crockpot Chicken Tacos from 4 Reluctant Entertainers (cooking on Wednesday) and Rice
4RE's post with the chicken recipe was about making a little extra for a friend. I have a friend who has a sick mother, so I think I will throw some extra in for her family, too, and while I'm at it, make some of those yummy snicker doodles Sandy made to go with the chicken.

Thursday Night Bunco:
Brie baked with pineapple preserves, crackers, Prosciutto Panino (I bought this log of mozzarella and prosciutto from Costco and I'm not sure what to do with it. I think I will slice it and serve on crostini. Any advice on this one?), and Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars from Tea in My Cup. I've never tried this but they look yummy. I'll let you know how it goes.

Pizza. I'm putting goat cheese on mine. Yumm.

Carne Asada (Bill Bailey's from Costco). This stuff is awesome and too easy. I would love to stop by the international market and find some uncooked flour tortillas to go with. There is no better tortilla friends!

Sunday Morning:
Orange Sweet Rolls (Pillsbury)

Stop by I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menus and recipes!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

$5 Southern Living Subscription

Photo from

Melissa at 320 Sycamore posted a great deal on a subscription to Southern Living magazine. 1 year for $5.00!! Seriously. Go to Grandin Road websiteto get this, as well as enter to win their $25,000 giveaway. I just let my SL magazine expire, so I'm really excited. Thanks Melissa!

You can also stop by Southern Living's website to enter their
Choose Your Home Giveaway(Don't go here for the $5 subscription though. You have to go to Grandin Road at the link above, for that.) You get to choose from 4 different homes. When you are done entering, you will have the opportunity to sign up for a daily reminder e-mail to remind you to enter this contest every day! After that, on the right side of the screen, you can get a bonus entry from MyHomeIdeas.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Beautiful Life Friday and 6 Unimportant Faves

Melissa at The Inspired Room is hosting Beautiful Life Friday, where we share a post about how we found beauty where we are this week. "Whether we simply noticed beauty or created it, it is a good reminder each week to focus on what we are blessed with. A beautiful life is the one we have right in front of us!" Stop by her blog to see everyone's link.

This afternoon, I just grabbed my camera and shot off a few photos of things that I am blessed with here at my home.

Well, the first one doesn't have a photo to go with it. I have been really sick this week, especially yesterday, and today I don't feel deathly ill. It's a wonderful thing. Kinda like when you have a newborn and you get 4 hours of sleep in a row and you are thrilled. I'm thrilled to not be as sick today. Being sick was a blessing in a way, though, because I had to stop all the busyness and just sit on the couch, watch tv and play with Photoshop. That's a blessing.
I love Friday afternoons, because we don't have anywhere to go or anything to do. We just kick back and do what we want. That means the kids get a little extra "electronic" time. I'm blessed to have these afternoons with my little people. They will be over soon enough.
Mr. Jones replaced two of my outside lights. Bye bye ugly, cheap, dirty builder brass! Hello gorgeous, clearance aisle lanterns. Oh, yeah, my honey is good. He picked a beautiful light and got a good deal. That's a beautiful thing.

Here is the most beautiful thing ... my little man got off the bus today with a bouquet of hand-made flowers just for me. A mom should be so lucky.

My bouquet looked just right in my "perfect" blue mason jar that I got at the thrift store the other day. A blue jar and an old metal lid. These little things make me so happy.
And that Mr. Jones is always trying to make me happy. Always. This is what he surprised me with on Mother's Day. I am too blessed. Not just because of the computer, but because I have a husband who loves me so much. I don't deserve him.

This is the view through the back window of my Momtruck. Princess wants to revamp her closet with a dressing table. I've been looking for a 2nd hand desk acceptable for this project for a long, long time. The desk made its appearance at the thrift store this week. $10. Score.
My garden has reappeared after a long, cold winter. After growing up in California, where annuals are like perennials, I am so excited every year to see my garden come alive all at once.
My beautiful friend, Laura, pulled these lambs ears out of her garden just for me.

I love them. They are so soft and fuzzy. They're growing all over my flower bed.

And best of all, they remind me of what a good friend Laura is.

I was walking through the kitchen, and this is what I saw on the counters. It's a good thing I see the world through a viewfinder sometimes, because the next picture is a more accurate depiction of the state of my entire kitchen ...
Just keepin' it real. My house is not perfect, clean or staged. But I do see beauty in this photo. My whole house could look like this. I could tell my husband that I sat on my butt all day while he worked. And he would genuinely say "I'm glad you got to rest."
This is my mailbox post. Somewhere in there. Superplant had completely 100% died back for the winter, and 4 weeks after Spring started, he looked like this. In another four weeks, he may eat the mailman.

Here is a little drawer thingy I found at the thrift store this week that holds the mail and cell phone chargers, and the silver fleur-de-lis compote (a thrift store find from a while back) for my keys. I love it when the everyday things you use are beautiful. They don't have to be expensive, though.

I was also tagged recently by Katie's Nesting Spot to list my Unimportant Favorite Things. Thanks, Katie! She has an adorable blog and is one crafty little mama. Check her out.

Here are the three simple rules: Mention the person who tagged you, list six unimportant things that make you happy, and tag six more blogs! So here goes ...

6 Unimportant Things that Make Me Happy:

1. Newly vacuumed carpet. Even better ... new carpet.

2. Putting my clothes on right out of the dryer. Soooo warm.

3. Peach fuzz baby heads that smell like Baby Magic, and little clothes that smell like Dreft.

4. Sleeping with the ceiling fan on high and big down comforter.

5. Summer rain storms with the windows open.

6. Sitting on a newly mowed lawn at dusk with the neighbors.

Since I'm feeling lazy because I'm sick, I'm just going to tag anyone who wants to join in.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cake Anyone?

For the last day of teacher appreciation week, we were supposed to make or bring in a small gift for the teachers.
I made a few of these and stuffed them with candy. Since this cake-making stuff is new to me, I learned last night that if you use thin paper instead of thicker card stock, the cake doesn't hold it's shape as well when you stuff it with candy. It still turned out ok, though. If I tied a ribbon around the side instead of putting the flower on top, it would have kept it together quite nicely.

I also made a clipboard for QTPa2T and Handsome's homeroom teachers. In the past I used ModgePodge for clipboards, but this time all I had was Crafter's Pick Decoupage & Collage Gel, and I think I like it a whole lot better. When it dried, the paper still felt like paper (MP has an elmer's glue-like coating), and the big deal was that there was not a single bubble. Not one. It dried perfectly flat. Then I just blasted it with 2 coats of varnish spray.

So here's my small world blogger story . . .
Handsome's teacher just left on maternity leave for the rest of the year. A few days after the new teacher started, we were talking in the hall because I substitute at the school part-time. She told me that she is a secret admirer of mine. Huh?

I didn't quite get it. She explained that she got to thinking the night before, that my name is Heather and she knew Handsome's last name was Jones ... so she wondered if I might be the blogger Mrs. Jones (in case you're wondering, she didn't recognize me outright when she saw me because my hair looks a bit different than the photos I have of myself on the blog).

Wow! Turns out, she has been reading my blog for a while. That completely made my day. When you start a blog, you think only your family friends will look at it. Then when other people show up, it's a nice surprise. Then someone in real life actually recognizes you, it is a great surprise and an awesome compliment.

Anyway, if you're reading this Mrs. R, you're awesome and I'm glad I've gotten to know you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Trash to Treasure and Teacher Appreciation Week

I'm going to join the Trash to Treasure Tuesday party at Kimm's, and show you a project I did for Teacher Appreciation Week. I signed up to decorate the teacher lunchroom at our school (I've learned to volunteer for PTO projects I enjoy doing - decorating, yes, planning, not so much).

Our PTO and parents serve breakfast to the teachers on Wednesday morning, lunch Thursday, and desserts on Friday. We like to decorate the room to make it a little more special. I had the idea to put chalk boards in there (isn't it funny that schools don't have those anymore?! Even dry erase boards aren't used as much because of SmartBoards ... I digress).

I found my inspiration for the chalkboard here, at LuLu & Co. , when I saw this photo. I like to use sunflowers for parties, and I like how this whole setup looked. I was even going to buy lemons, but by the time I got to that, I had spent too much money and didn't want to fork over another $5.00.
I went to the thrift store in hopes that I would get lucky and find a frame like LuLu's, but this is the only thing I could find. Just a couple bucks, no problem. I'll make it work. It had a couple gouges on the front, so I patched them with spackle and sanded them smooth.
Then I re-painted the sides gold (I didn't like the cheap gold paint that was already on it) and after that I painted the entire thing white (I like to use heirloom white spray paint with satin finish).
When it was dry, I rubbed down the top layer of paint with steel wool. I use sand paper on the corners where I really want it worn down good, but I generally like to use steel wool because it is gentle and lets the layers of paint colors show through.
I taped off the sides and painted a couple coats of chalk board paint.
For the second chalk board, I had an old picture frame we had in the garage. The glass had broken and there was no backing, and Mr. Jones was going to throw it away. Ooops, I don't think so.
I went to The Home Depot, and in the lumber department they had this cheap, $3.00 board. I marched it over to the cutting center and had the guy cut it to fit my frame. 2 cuts are free. That's all I needed.

I learned something new on this one, though. I thought spraying grey primer before I spray painted it with 2 coats of chalkboard paint would be good enough. Not good enough. You could see the particle board through the paint. It didn't look good. So I slopped on a thick coat of white paint with a roller. This covered up the particle board surface and gave it a nice texture. Then I painted with grey primer (more for the grey undercoat than to prime raw wood at this point) and 2 coats of chalkboard paint. Perfect.

Mr. QTPa2Tee (Youngest Child) was helping me set up, and came up with this brilliant idea: I had planned to just write a message to the teachers on the chalkboards, but he filled a couple mason jars with chalk and wrote a question for the teachers to answer. I can't wait to see what they write. Well done, my young apprentice. (He is really into Star Wars lately. Do I sound like Emperor Palpatine?)
This is the buffet table in the teachers' lunchroom. The mason jars are to hold cutlery or whatever else needs to be held. I have a thing for mason jars and jelly jars lately.
Here is my Southern Living at Home server, and I tied it with some school-themed twill from the scrapbook stash. Here's a closeup look:
I covered the buffet table with a big piece of white burlap. For those of you who read my burlap post and helped me with my problem, thank you, thank you. For those of you who didn't read it, my burlap smelled like it pumped gas at Shell all day. I washed it, Downey'd it, left it outside in the sun and rain, washed it, bleached it, and let it soak in vinegar (I still have to try lavender sachets). Yep, it was that bad. Here's what I learned: Don't buy burlap at Ben Franklin crafts. It STINKS. I went to Wal-Mart and bought more burlap to make the table runners, and that was much better. The quality was better, the color was better, and it didn't smell. Imagine that. We have lame craft stores here in Northern VA. And don't even get me started on the subject of Hobby Lobby. That is the greatest craft store ever, and there is not one in my state. Not fair. Stomp feet. I digress again.

For the 2 teacher tables, I used a big, long piece of white burlap. Since there were 2 tables, 12 feet long, I made table runners out of the 1 piece of burlap to save money. I chopped it in half lengthwise, and I stitched each side with red zigzag so it doesn't fray too much. and the zigzagging looked cute. The table runners were actually a bit too long, so I chopped off the ends, and stuck the pieces right on the buffet table.
Here's me playing with my camera. I have a question for you bloggers: Do you find yourself wanting to take pictures of everything you do so you can blog about it? Or wish you had a keyboard on your steering wheel so the post you thought of while you were driving doesn't get lost? It's an illness, I'm sure. I digress again. Distraction is an illness, too. I'm sure of it.
Next up are the lanterns, ala Matthew Mead. Ikea lanterns, about $6.something each. Great price.
I didn't have any white primer, so I painted them all over with cheap white paint. Then I painted them with heirloom white. Matthew says to use 2 sides of his download, back-to-back, and tape to the outside. What I did instead is used 1 layer of my scrap paper, and I put it behind the glass under the little prong thingies that hold the glass in. No need for tape. *BUT* if you plan on using candles, tape the paper to the outside for obvious reasons. I can't burn candles in the school anyway, so it didn't matter. I have a wild child, so I'm not really a big fan of leaving fire where he can reach it anyway, so I'm experimenting with other methods of lighting up my lanterns.
Here is what the lantern looks like with a red glow stick. How cool would that look on your walkway or deck at night, and you wouldn't even burn your house down! Unfortunately, the mega pack of glow sticks I bought were tiny white glow sticks, and you couldn't see any light when I put the lanterns in the lunch room. Oh well.

When I get my hands on some battery-powered twinkle lights, I'm going to try filling the lantern with that.
2 lanterns with floral paper, 2 with polka dots.
Next up, flowers. I just did a repeat of the flowers I did for this baby shower. I should come up with something new. I bought plastic containers to go inside the not-water-sealed tin buckets. Add a chunk of oasis soaked in water, 3 flowers, a bit of moss. I tied the flowers with some raffia and ribbon (bigger ribbon would have looked better, but I was getting stingy with the coin), and stuck a pick in it.
I made all these picks with shish kabob skewers and tags that had vintage images and buttons glued on. It would have looked great with zigzag stitching across the tag, but I made the tags 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave for the school with the flowers. Not enough time.
I hung some lanterns from the ceiling.

You can't really see it well, but right here at the end of the buffet, I stuck a box under the burlap. You can put different size boxes under your table cloth, and it makes the buffet look soooo much better. Stick some tinkle lights under that cloth, too, and it looks like a caterer came to your house.

I tend to use the same things over and over at parties. I add a little here and there to my collection. Things that are cheap, but add a lot of style. Like these old vintage milk jars. They always look good with flowers. I may get some more of those Ikea lanterns before they stop selling them. You can change the scrap paper for different events. Buy a case of mason jars or jelly jars at Wal-Mart. You can do all kinds of things with those babies. Put all of the jars right down the middle of the table with candles. If you use a lot of the same thing, it looks amazing. I'm a fan of tin buckets, too. And you can bet that burlap will show up at more events.

So that's it for me. To see more inspiration, stop by Kimm's blog and see the other Trash to Treasure Tuesday entries.
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