Simple photo holder

Okay so, I made this thing… out of a thing… the first picture shows a gear or pulley or something, the thing that fell out of my car the day that it finally konked out on me about a month ago, marking the end of its reign as “my car.”



The car – a 2002 Subaru Outback Legacy – was, in fact, a gift from my Dad back in 2007… I had begun taking pretty regular care of him as his liver disease had more and more effect on him, and every time I took him to the doctor or any other errand, we’d drive his car. Eventually he simply gave the car to me, partly as thanks and partly because that’s what he had done with most of his previous cars: given them to me when he was done with them.

So anyway when the car finally gave up, I kept this piece that fell off, and turned it into a keepsake that holds a couple pictures of Dad, including one of him with my daughter when she was about seven years old. It was easy enough to make – I literally just wiped off some of the grease, filled the hole in the middle with hot glue, and poked a photo wire down into the center of it as the glue was setting up. The stuff lodged in between the teeth of the gear is melted timing belt.

A quick and easy keepsake!

I’m sharing this project over at the Upcycled Link Party at Funky Junk Interiors, as well as at Marty’s Inspire Me Tuesday party at her sweet blog, A Stroll Thru Life.


More soon,


Junky picture frame project update

One project I really loved working on was my junky picture frame: a little cupboard door I scrounged and re-assembled, and adorned with a couple of my daughter’s senior pictures. I shared the project in its unfinished state about a year ago because it was a). done enough and b). really cute!

Well recently, I finally found the elements I needed to finish it up. I would love it if you would take a moment to check out the updated post – here it is!

Thanks for checking it out!

More soon,



An after-Christmas treat

I recently decided to purchase a new sewing machine. Now make no mistake, I love the vintage machine I’ve been using that belonged to my grandmother – a Singer Featherweight 221  – but that machine was a gift from my dad to my daughter, and she intends to take it with her when she gets her apartment this Fall… so, while I had the funds, I decided to buy a simple machine for myself. Here it is, appropriately called the Singer Simple:



Not much in the way of bells and whistles (okay by me – I would never use them) but it does have some built-in stitches which makes doing a zig-zag pretty effortless. It also came with an automatic buttonholer.

One of the things it did not come with was a decent cover. The cover that was included was made out of that weird “fibrous” material that recyclable grocery bags are made of, only about 80 percent thinner. And gray. Super-ugly.

So for my first project on the new machine, I decided to make a sweet little cozy-cover, and here’s the result:



This is the same fabric I used to re-do my address book a couple years ago, plus a couple other interesting bits: the side panels are actually the front panels of a thrifted ladies’ blazer in a deep coral-colored damask material.



The jacket did not fit me, but the details were so cute and I love re-purposing old clothing in unexpected ways so I simply cut it apart, leaving the faux pocket intact.



It really is too bad that’s not a real pocket – I think it would be pretty handy!

And, the bottom trim is more of the deconstructed pillow sham I used for my office chair makeover. (Please ignore the little pink blob of wadded-up thread – it’s not part of the project – LOL – but I didn’t notice it when I took the picture!)



I do like the new machine… but it doesn’t make that neat old “shuggity-shuggity-shuggity” sound that the vintage one makes. I kinda miss that!

More soon,


Valentine Tree

This year in the after-Christmas-buy-it-cheap-for-next-year rush, I purchased a four-foot white artificial tree. I’ll be using it in December in the Mom-cave for my “vintage” tree.

Now maybe it’s because the “Christmas season” was a little short this year, but for some reason by January I wasn’t really ready to put away ALL the holiday decorations. I WAS ready for the house to have that uncluttered “New Year” feel to it. So I kept out some red, pink, white and gold vintage ornaments, and put up a Valentine’s Day tree, using just the top section from the white tree.

I’m not sure how many people do this, but I really like it!



In fact, I think pink and gold might be my new favorite color combination!






I also included these beautiful heart-shaped ornaments. I have a few in each of deep red, and gold.




And more hearts, made of spun glass. These would be easier to see (and more dramatic) if I had put lights on the tree. I might still do that.




The colors in the picture may not be quite right… the two smaller bulbs are a rose-red color.




The only ornaments that aren’t pink, red, gold, or crystal are these satin-finish balls with pretty violets. I just think they are so romancey!




The tree sat for a couple weeks without any kind of topper, and I finally made this out of some Dollar Store decoration kits. Too much? LOL I’m not sure it fits… it might be a little too “blingy”.


My little tabletop Valentine tree needs a skirt… and, maybe a less obnoxious topper. LOL



I’m sharing my sweet little tree over at Show and Tell Friday on Cindy’s blog, My Romantic Home. Be sure to pay her a visit!

More soon,


Featured at Dollar Store Crafts!

What a nice little surprise this week to discover that my “quick, cute centerpiece” project had been featured over at the Dollar Store Crafts blog!


I had entered the project in the “30-minute Challenge” contest, and although I didn’t win it’s quite a thrill to see one of my projects “up in lights” at a blog filled with such creative projects! Wondering who won the Challenge? It’s Suzi from Suzi’s Crafts, who shared a cute, colorful night light cover!

More soon,



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Office chair slipcover – a romancey makeover

I’m so excited to be able to share this little project with you! It’s one of the elements of the Mom Cave that really needed to be brought in line with the look of the room, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. In the end, I just love how it turned out. It’s my office chair – a thrifted bargain at $8, with good back support and one stray wheel that sometimes slides across the floor rather than turning.


After considering a tailored re-upholster where I would actually remove the padded parts and recover them, I decided instead to go with the “slipper chair” look of a slip cover. Advantages: removable, washable, and a whole lot less frustrating than trying to figure out how to take this chair completely apart.

After thinking and studying on this for quite awhile (we’re talking MINUTES, people!), I decided that I would further simplify by doing a two-piece outfit where the top and bottom just easily slip into place. Here’s the result:


Isn’t she just super-cute? She looks like she’s wearing bloomers!


Fabrics were all from my stash: a beautifully aged patio cushion cover…


A standard pillow sham, deconstructed (it was this tutorial on doing a ruffle that gave me the shove I needed to go forward with this project!)…


…and an ivory colored eyelet bedskirt.


Her top is a section of the cushion cover, sewn with slightly rounded corners like the cozy I made for my can opener in the kitchen. I sewed a bit of the bedskirt to the back. This piece, of course, fits by just slipping it over the back of the chair.


The new seat cover isn’t even enclosed – it’s just a flat piece, with the ruffle and bedskirt sewn around. It fits by just tucking it in to the junction between the existing back and seat of the chair.


Now make no mistake, I think Little Miss Fancy Pants here is adorable… but the true test is whether all this new finery has impacted her functionality as office furniture. My helper assures me it has not.


(Gratuitous cat picture: doesn’t Lily look pleased that I have disturbed her slumber?)


Doesn’t it just make you want to sing, “Three Little Maids From School?”


Maybe that’s just me :)


I’ll be sharing my sweet little office chair makeover at these lovel parties:
Feathered Nest Friday over at French Country Cottage
Show & Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk Interiors
Sew Cute Tuesday at Better Off Thread

More soon,



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Trash to treasure: a gorgeous junky picture frame

FEBRUARY 2014 UPDATE – It’s finished! See end  of post!

This little project is actually not finished. But I love it so much, I just have to share it!

In 2008, our home on Des Moines’ north side was destroyed in flooding. The city purchased the house and property from us shortly afterwards, and demolished it. In the few years since, we’ve occasionally driven past the site. Sometimes, we get out of the car and walk around – I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to bring a little comfort at times when we get to reminiscing about the loss.

On one such visit, we noted that someone had dumped a truckload of junk in our old backyard. This little cupboard door was calling my name, and I plucked it from the middle of the pile to study it.



I absolutely love the worn texture – it reminds me of linen fabric or linen-finish paper.




I knew for sure I wanted to make some sort of picture frame, but I didn’t have any particular shots in mind when I first picked the little door out of the junk pile. It wasn’t until we saw Stephanie’s beautiful senior pictures (taken by Des Moines photographer Randy Shebek) that I knew I had just the right images to complement this frame.


(all photos of Stephanie are by Randy Shebek, Great Life Photography)

Mr. Piglet helped me repair the cupboard door – I nailed the frame pieces back together and he glued and clamped them to make sure they would stay in place. He dug through his own stash to find a couple of nails that looked appropriately weathered – “You don’t want new nails in there, they’ll look out of place,” he said. (I LOVE that he had the same vision for this project!)



Once it was all dry, I selected two 5×7 pictures – one with a very distinctive natural element, the stone, to complement the textured wood, and one with some color in the background to draw attention.



I added a piece of vintage lace in one corner as a background element, and created depth by stacking two pieces of foam core board, smaller than the right-hand photograph, and attaching that photo to the “riser” created by the foam core. Note the shadow cast by the “raised” picture, in the photo below.



To finish, I am on the hunt for a used Scrabble game so I can spell out either Steph’s name or a word or two to describe her with the tiles. And I’m still thinking about what, if anything, belongs in that lower left corner. I’ll post a follow up when I finally get it complete, but it’s already one of my new favorite pieces in the house because it uses three of my favorite elements: weathered junk, bits of vintage finery, and my amazing daughter!



I’m linking my junky picture frame to Donna’s fabulous Saturday Night Special Party at Funky Junk Interiors. So much beautiful junk, so little time!

February, 2014 Update: After searching faithfully for a year, trying to find a thrift-store Scrabble Game, I finally happened upon some tiles for sale at the antique store. A whole BOWL full of them, for 50 cents each! I purchased the letters for my daughter’s name plus a couple extras, and decided to vary the heights by putting little foam-core risers under some of them. This allowed me to overlap a few of the edges and still fit them within the space, but I think it also makes it just a little more interesting. I really love the way this turned out!




I’m linking the updated version of this post to Show and Tell Friday at Cindy’s lovely blog, My Romantic Home.

More soon,


A rosy cozy and a killer piller

Just sharing a couple of sewing projects I completed this week… I have a third but I think it needs a little something more so I don’t consider it finished yet. More on that one soon!

First up is this soft, cuddly sweater pillow that I attempted to whip up one night this week, and ended up running my finger through the sewing machine – OUCH!!


Turns out, trying to stitch over this bulky knit is harder than one thinks it’s going to be: the “tines” of my presser foot kept getting hooked in the knit, so I had to run my fingers very close to the needle to keep the knit pressed down so the foot would run smoothly. And in the process, ended up getting my finger directly under the needle. In and out, all the way through, one time.
A little cold water, a little peroxide, a little pressure… and all is better. As for the pillow – well it’s not quite square but it’s cute nonetheless, and super-soft.


The second project is a sweet floral “cozy” that I made from a finished standard pillow sham, to fit over the scanner/printer that sits on my work table in the mom-cave. I mean, let’s face it: a shiny black plastic printer just doesn’t look “shabby,” or cottagey, or romantic at all.


I had a reversible cozy I’d made many years ago for a desktop copier, but it wasn’t quite the right size. This pretty sham from Mainstays – a thrifting find at 99 cents – was perfect for this project. I didn’t even deconstruct it; I just boxed the corners of the finished sham and called it good.



I’m sharing this week’s projects at Donna’s Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk Interiors! I’m also sharing at Jill’s A Round Tuit party – because, these projects have been on my to-do list for awhile!

More soon,



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Homemade treat trays

Here is my first project of the year! I used a couple of pretty vintage floral plates, thrifted candlesticks of different heights, and some E6000 glue to put together these sweet little treat trays. Now mind you, I have NEVER had occasion to use treat trays like this… but, I’m convinced that’s only because I’ve never had them before.






I plan to make up a reason to use them soon! This project was so easy there’s really no tutorial needed, but I will say the trickiest part is centering the candlestick on the bottom of the plate. So, eyeball it carefully… or, “measure twice, glue once”… or, whatever your centering mantra may be… and give it a try!

I’m sharing these pretty servers with Suzanne for Vintage Thingies Thursday, Transformation Thursday over at Shabby Creek Cottage, and Stephanie Lynn’s Sunday Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming. Thank you to these lovely ladies for hosting such wonderful link parties each week!

More soon,



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Dollar store sign blank transformation

I’ll admit I didn’t accomplish too much this weekend – funny that during the week, I have all these big ideas at work about what I’ll do with my days off, then when faced with them I have a hard time finding direction. I did take some time to finish one small project, a pretty bit of wall art that started out as an unfinished sign blank from the Dollar Tree.  

My ideas for this little piece included making a hand-painted sign using one of the many amusing quotes I’ve been finding on Facebook and Pinterest (maybe this one: “If a ship doesn’t stop at your port, it wasn’t your ship.”)… or, making it look like a plank from an old fruit crate, complete with peeling label. Up until today, I was leaning heavily toward the former. But once I got to sifting through some images from The Graphics Fairy, I found a beautiful label I couldn’t resist – even though it wasn’t fruit-themed. 

I started the project by removing the hanging string and then lightly staining the unfinished blank with a Minwax maple stain. I dabbed on a couple of coats, including the back and edges. 

I then selected a piece of scrapbook paper which – at the time – I thought would lend itself well to having lettering painted on it. It was a subtle color, with a lovely pattern that wasn’t too intrusive. I wanted this to have an aged look too, so I tore the paper into the size I wanted rather than cutting the edges. 

I glued the torn scrap to the front of the blank using ModPodge, then brushed a layer of the maple stain over the whole piece. This served to “age” the bright white torn edges of the paper and made the paper look like it had weathered along with the wood. Once that was dry, I brushed a layer of ModPodge over the entire piece. 

Next I printed out my chosen label, trimmed it closely, and used ModPodge to glue it to the sign blank. I brushed on yet another layer of Minwax stain over everything, let that dry, then finished up with a final layer of ModPodge to seal the deal. 

I really like the overall result… I wish the sign blank itself had looked more authentically aged, but I think my efforts to “old it up” gave it a distinct personality. 

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