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Taking time to turn the pages

Okay I admit it – here we are a week before St. Patrick’s Day and I’ve just now gotten ’round to decorating Grandma’s table. That’s because I absolutely fell in love with the Valentines version, and I didn’t want to put away the little tic-tac-toe set!

But I finally decided to change it up, and here is the new arrangement:

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The book is a little over-whelming, perhaps, but it completely deserves center stage because it’s absolutely stunning. More on that in a moment.

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I don’t have (and didn’t want) a lot of the traditional St. Paddy’s decorations… I’ll be honest, Leprechauns kind of give me the creeps ;) Shamrocks are pretty but I felt like a vintage version would be better suited for the look I wanted. So I decided to just go for a green-and-white theme.

Here is the little grouping just behind the book to the upper left in the picture:

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I’ve used my two green fluted vases found on a recent thrifting adventure, along with some Dollar Store silk carnations:

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And a tiny print courtesy of The Graphics Fairy in a diminutive silver-toned frame:

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Under the whole setting is this pretty white crocheted table runner – yes, I kept the romantic pink tablecloth (I couldn’t bear to put it away!) but decided to try to mask it for my green-and-white tribute to the Emerald Isle. The pretty hanky also picks up the green-and-white theme, while lending a touch of pink.

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Around the other side of the table, we have the omni-present Mr. Duck…

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In front of another pretty print from The Graphics Fairy. I thought this Irish girl was lovely!

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The book I’m using for this display is a real treasure – I picked it up in the bargain section at Barnes & Noble recently: Castles of Britain and Ireland, by Rodney Castleden (no pun intended, I’m sure!).

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It’s hard to get a good shot of an open page because of the lighting, but it features beautiful photography and a bit of informational text about the centuries-old castles of England, Scotland, Wales, & Ireland. This spread shows Cashel Castle, a.k.a. The Rock of Cashel or The Rock of St. Patrick.

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The book is a little more in proportion to the table when it’s closed, but having it open encourages one to flip through the pages – which I otherwise might forget to do!

I’ll be linking this happy little table to Marty’s Tabletop Tuesday party over at A Stroll Thru Life!

More soon,

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Cleaning an antique wool hooked rug: don’t try this at home

I’m almost afraid to admit this, but I decided to toss my possibly antique wool hooked rug into the washer and dryer in hopes of restoring it to some sort of less-than-disgusting condition.

It worked… for me. But consider yourself warned: DON’T try this on your cherished heirloom rug and then try to sue me when it falls apart in the washer. The ONLY reason I tried this on my rug was that it was specifically NOT a family heirloom. It was a good thrifty vintage find, the right colors for the right price… but it has always been really, really dirty, and to be honest, I wasn’t entirely thrilled with having it in the house.

Here it is the day I brought it home… it’s about 3 feet by 4 feet in size.

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This “before” picture hopefully shows you how faded, dirty and matted-down the fibers were.

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I first tried to clean this rug last year by laying it out in the yard and blasting it with the garden hose. (“Sheep get wet, and they don’t shrink,” I reasoned.) It took for-ever to dry, and even then I felt like it wasn’t clean. Plus it had grass clippings on it. So I put it in the dryer, and it came out nice and soft, but not as “revitalized” as I had hoped from a cleanliness standpoint.

This time around, I decided to go all in. I set the washer on cold water, put the rug in by itself with a dash of liquid soap, and let ‘er rip. When I opened the washer, quite honestly I was sorry I’d done it: there were globs of loose, wet, matted wool all over the drum, and I was sure I had ruined the rug. I peeled all the loosened wool off the rug (and cleaned out the washer). To my surprise, after doing that, it really looked like the only actual damage was to a small section of the binding. So I went ahead and put it in the dryer.

An hour later when I pulled it out of the dryer, I was pleasantly surprised.

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Yes, I ruined a bit of the binding. I believe this would not have happened if I’d thought to set the washer on the gentle cycle. These two photos show the same section of binding, top and bottom.

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But, the rug itself was soft, and clean, and smelled like a dryer sheet. The colors really are beautiful, and the loops are no longer matted. This rug is welcome back in the Mom cave, even with the battle-scarred binding.

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Again, please remember: for me this worked because I had just $20 and zero emotion invested in my rug. And I got lucky, because the “sheep don’t shrink” theory holds somewhat true.

However, the “sheep come apart in the washing machine” theory is also somewhat true. And I would hate for that to happen to your family treasure.

More soon,

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Printer cozy part 2, and a freebie

I noted on Twitter this past week that things change quickly – sometimes daily! – in the ol’ Mom cave. I recently showed a picture of the cute little cozy I made for our scanner/printer, using a finished standard pillow sham. I sewed up the corners and made a nicely-fitting box cover.

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Well, “the rest of the story” is that this is only one of two printers that we owned, and both of them were out of ink. Needless to say, we finally came to the point where we HAD to print something, and also needless to say, we discovered it was cheaper to buy one new all-in-one unit than to replace the ink in both of them.

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So – short version: we got a new all-in-one printer, but it’s more square than rectangular and now my cute little cozy doesn’t fit properly!

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Now it’s not all bad news… the good news is that we can print, remotely, with the cozy on. We only have to remove it if we want to use the document feed on top for multiple pages, or the scanner. So while the cozy doesn’t fit as well as it did on the other one, this unit is functional while still “sort of” covered with shabby roses!

The other bit of serendipity here is that by getting rid of two pieces of equipment, I freed up the top of this very pretty antique table for a display or vignette of some sort.

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In other news, at work this week someone had set this little cutie on a table in the employee breakroom with a sign attached, “Free to a good home.” My first thought was that the basket was a little too “cute country” for my current tastes, but my second thought was “spray paint.” So, with the notion that I might eventually paint the basket, I snatched it up.

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I have to admit, it’s kinda growing me just as it is. (Ha! get it? GROWING on me… because it’s greenery… oh I crack me up!)

How was your week? :)

More soon,

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Pink and ivory for Valentine’s Day

It’s time for another trip around Grandma Verdie’s antique table… I’ve made this my “go-to girl” for seasonal or holiday-themed displays. So far we’ve seen a Spring tablescape, a bit of Christmas sparkle, and the clean, crisp look of blue and white for the new year. Now that Valentine’s Day is on its way, I thought I would change it up again with pink and ivory. Here’s the new look for the next month or so:

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It all starts with this lovely new tablecloth acquired via Ebay. It wasn’t the best bargain I’ve ever found, but I did get it for my “best offer” price which was quite a bit lower than the asking price. I’d have been happier if they’d accepted my first offer, but it’s very pretty and I’m not complaining – I really love it!

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Of course, Mr. Duck remains on the table, perched again on a small stack of seasonal Victoria and Romantic Homes magazines. The deep red glass heart is a paperweight – a gift from long ago.

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This pink glass candy dish, a flea market find with a pretty grape-and-leaf pattern, is awaiting some Hershey’s Kisses.

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This pretty bowl, filled with silk carnations, came from my mother-in-law Betty. Just look at thoseheart-shaped cut-outs, and flirty gold-edged tab handles!

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And finally, truly a favorite thrifted find… a Cupid-themed tic tac toe game!

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What’s neat about this piece, besides the overall look and weight of it, is how I acquired it: I found a bag containing just the pieces at my local Goodwill one day. They were so pretty I had to have them, even though, at the time, I could only guess at their purpose.

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Then several weeks later, on my next trip back to that same store, I found the game board. My guess had been correct, but obviously the elements had gotten separated at some point and I was lucky enough to spot them both!

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A bit later, just for fun, I added a soft stuffed heart which you can see in the background… but also wanted to capture a shot of the late afternoon sun streaking across the table.

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Also just for fun, a couple of filters applied through the “BeFunky” app on my iPhone. I find these little game pieces quite fascinating!

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I really enjoy doing little vignettes on this table – it gives me a chance to play with my stuff! LOL How about you – do you have a favorite spot for displays like this?

I’ll be joining Marty over at A Stroll Through Life for her fabulous Tabletop Tuesday party! Hope you will click through and visit all the pretty displays linked there!

More soon,

Mom-cave reveal!

Almost five years ago, we moved into our present home. It was a rather horrid mixture of busted walls, dog-pee carpets, and other peoples’ smells. So, painting the entire thing was in order. But I have to admit, after five years, I just never fell in love with the color I chose for the 3rd and smallest bedroom – the room I commandeered as my dressing and craft room, a.k.a. the “Mom Cave.” It was kind of a peachy color… not as orange as “tangerine” but not pink.

I tried for a long time to force it into becoming my little cottagey retreat room, but this year I finally gave up. It just wasn’t working.

These two “before” pictures are a few years old but they are pretty accurate as far as showing the wall color. It’s pretty, but I didn’t love it:

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So I decided recently to do a make-over in the Mom-cave – mostly just changing the paint color, but also a few small projects that would help achieve the garden style I wanted for the room. The challenge was, I had built a large glass-top desk in the room and there is really no way remove it completely – it’s just too big. Plus, I didn’t want to have to empty the barrister bookcase of all its contents. So, over the course of a week, I spent my evenings shoving the furniture around into various corners of the room (like a heavy game of Tetris!) while I taped then painted the walls one at a time. Here’s a glimpse of what the mess of that method looked like:

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And here, just for fun, are shots of my original gallery walls. You can see they’re kind of a hodge-podge:

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My new color is a soft botanical green. You can see the difference here:

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For each wall, I of course started by removing all the picture-hanging hardware and patching the holes. I taped off any wood trim, did the cutting in with a brush, then “filled in” with the roller. It took two coats. Here’s a good representation of the new color:

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And here is my helper:

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My secondary goal in the room, next to painting, was to simplify just a bit. To cull a few of my collected items, and make room for items that I really liked but had in storage. That meant the gallery walls were ultimately going to look a little different. They are still a work in progress, but here are some after shots of the finished space. (You might see my other helper lurking on chairs or other flat surfaces.)

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I am truly in love with this color. It’s my intention to use an off-white/ivory as the accent color, although a few items in the room are already bright white so they’ll probably stay that way.

I’ll share the before-and-afters of a couple additional small project here in future posts, but here’s a hint: there were two objects in the room that really needed a little “shabbifying.” Here they are:

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You’ll see more of those soon! This re-paint was a pretty big project for me and I really love the way it turned out! How about you – have you done any painting lately? Did your color choices turn out the way you wanted?

I’m linking my re-painted Mom Cave to Jill’s A Round Tuit party! Be sure to click through for SO much beautiful inspiration!

More soon,

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Celebrating Tabletop Tuesday!

I thought I would take you on a little tour of the top of my barrister bookcase in celebration of the 150th Tabletop Tuesday over at Marty’s wonderful blog, A Stroll Thru Life. I’ve recently been working on a re-do in this little third bedroom, affectionately known as the Mom-cave, so hopefully soon I’ll be able to share the whole thing.

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The bookcase is literally a treasure-trove for me… it’s among the pieces I inherited from my grandmother, and I’ve filled it with all manner of pretty thrifty finds and vintage family pieces. I really like the layered, “collected” look when displaying these kinds of pieces – it makes me happy to know that wherever my eye lands in the display, I’ll be looking at something that’s been handed down, or acquired through a happy thrifting expedition.

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At this end of the top shelf are a beautiful blue glass vase found while thrifting…

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…a blown-glass pumpkin won in a Facebook comment contest…

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…and a pretty peacock figure that was a gift from my husband.

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Moving along you can catch a glimpse of my framed Blue Jay (it’s the To/From tag off of a larger gift bag!)…

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… ivory scrolly heart…

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… a little salt-clay salamander made by my daughter when she was little…

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…and of course a framed photo of my beautiful girl – she’s 19 now and a freshman in college!

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I have a lot of blue pieces for some reason and tried to weave them throughout the display rather than grouping them together in a clump. In the next section I’ve layered a blue bird bud vase that was painted by my mother-in-law (along with a couple strands of blue, pearl, and silver beads)…

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…and a blue glass vase on which I painted a little Bible verse and some soft blue and white roses.

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I’ve also recently become smitten with what I call “courting couples,” shown here on a fabulous green lamp base (it’s obviously no longer a lamp – I just love the shape and design of it!)…

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…a sweet figurine…

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…and a miniature teacup.

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At the end of the row we are back to blue with a beautiful Depression Glass banana bowl in the Moon & Stars pattern, a gift from my mother-in-law.

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Finally, on the wall above all of these pieces is a lovely landscape painting I found while thrifting. It’s in a thrifted wooden frame that I painted in the ivory accent color I’ve used throughout my re-done room.

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So that’s my tabletop tour – congratulations, Marty, on 150 weeks of one of my favorite blog link parties! Here’s to many more Tabletop Tuesdays!

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More soon,

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Blue-and-white is light and crisp – perfect for after holidays

 

I went another whole year in 2012 without really doing anything to “vintage up” my living room – I’ve been content (though not blissfully happy) with the rather contemporary stuff that’s in there, which we bought lock-stock-and-barrel out of a furniture store display area when we first moved into this house in 2008. (Sort of the Garanimals approach to furniture shopping…)

It’s not awful, but it’s not shabby, it’s not romantic, and it’s not vintage.

In fact, the only vintage piece in the room is also the focus of today’s post: it’s my grandmother Verdie’s side table, which I love and which has actually worked well with its contempo room-mates because of the dark wood finish. After I put away all the Christmas things, I decided to go for a blue-and-white theme with this table. Here’s a picture of the table from another post. Isn’t she gorgeous?

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And here is the overall view of the new blue-and-white tabletop vignette:

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First item to note: I switched out the existing lamp for a recent thrifty find – I found the tall crystal base for a dollar, and the shade (already beaded) for $3.99.

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Here are a couple shots of the beautiful tablecloth, with hand-stitching done by my great-grandmother Metta – she was Verdie’s mother. It does need to be ironed, but, I skipped that step ;)

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I continue to enjoy using my collection of past issues of Victoria and Romantic Homes as decorating pieces – they always seem to come through with just the right color scheme!

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Perched atop the magazine stack is Mr. Duck – I don’t know how old he is, but he has wonderful patina and he will even hold a few tiny treasures. We got him for a dollar at an auction – no one else was bidding on him but he sure caught hubby’s eye!

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A few other notable birds: a pair of Blue Jay figurines – the smaller one is from the Whitehall Society, and the larger one is from HOMCO – and, their funny little cannon-firing friend, a gift from the Graphics Fairy, in a matte-finish painted frame.

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Finally, for just a little pop of pink, I’m using some silk carnations in a hand-turned bud vase made some time ago by Mr. Piglet.

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I find it really amusing that I haven’t heard a peep yet from Mr. Piglet about this revamped tabletop… I know he’s aware I put the Christmas stuff away, but he hasn’t even noticed that I’m using an entirely different lamp! That gives me the giggles for sure – I wonder how much more “vintage” I can sneak into this room before he finally says something!

I’m sharing my blue-and-white/bird-themed tabletop at Tabletop Tuesday. Be sure to click through to Marty’s lovely blog for lots more on display!

More soon,

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Adding some Christmas sparkle

I had a lot of fun making this little project – can you guess what it is?

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Well here is a hint: remember the “Charming Farm,” my little romantic cloche from – oh my goodness! 2010??
That’s right, my new project is indeed a cloche. And not just any cloche – the Charming Farm has disbanded (at least temporarily) and I’ve used the rotating base to create this little wonderland of romance-hued Christmas baubles, under glass!

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To make this, I simply held the cloche cover open-side-up in one hand, and loaded the contents with the other. I started out with the glass ornaments… a few balls, and those charming little trains and pink flowers, and one copper-glittered pinecone just for accent… then covered the whole pile with the string of gold beaded garland. Last but not least I added a fluff of poly-fiberfill on top… er, bottom… then set the painted “pan” upside down over the glass opening. I carefully held it together and turned it right-side up, and let the contents settle.

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A couple of gentle shakes to get them to move around a bit, and it created a mesmerizing little pile of Christmas sparkle. I set the whole thing down on the pink-painted rotating base, so it’s lovely from every angle. The neatest part was, everything was already on-hand so I didn’t have to spend anything to make this nifty little bit of entertainment!

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I am sharing this project over at Making Monday Marvelous on Jamie’s delightful blog, C.R.A.F.T. (“Creating Really Awesome Free Things”), at the Creative Bloggers Party & Hop at Homemaker on a Dime, and at Michael’s Put a Cloche on It party at Inspired by Charm! Be sure to click through to see what other creative folks have been up to this holiday season!

More soon,

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A little Christmas decor

I’ve spent the last couple weeks with a cold, but this past weekend I finally felt pretty good and was getting anxious to get some Christmas decorating done. On Saturday I completed a couple of tabletops, and on Sunday I got the tree up and the window garlands hung. That’s all in the living room. Next project is the dining room, which is a bit trickier because that’s kind of our “catch-all room” and it requires a lot of tidying up (gathering mail, clearing flat surfaces) before much of anything can be decorated. So that’s maybe next weekend.

I did want to share one of my two favorite tabletops this week – I really like how this worked out. First, here’s the scene in our living room – you are correct, we have lived in this house more than four years now and still have almost nothing on the walls. (See those perfect pillows on the loveseat? They were a true thrifty bargain at $1.99 each!)

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Here is the table in question… this is the antique table from my grandparents’ house that I used in my springtime tablescape some time ago.

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The scarf used as a runner belonged to my mother-in-law Betty. I wanted to pull in a little of the metallic shimmer from the scarf so I framed one of my favorite Christmas cards in a dollar-store frame. Later I changed this to a card with red and gold in it, and I think I may change it yet again to a family photo. I do normally keep decorating magazines on this table, but for this display I rounded up a small stack of holiday issues of Romantic Homes for seasonal browsing.

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The glass creation was a gift from my sister-in-law last year. It’s kind of a “totem,” made from various glass pieces that she thrifted. I stuffed a long string of red shiny beads under the base, and it needs a red or green votive in the top. (The figurine behind the votive holder is a hummingbird.)

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The little snowman was a Walgreens acquisition several years ago… and the wooden bud vase containing the silk poinsettias was hand-turned by Mr. Piglet last year, using box elder wood.

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More to share very soon – for now I am linking my little shimmery red tabletop display at Tabletop Tuesday, over at Marty’s delightful blog, “A Stroll Thru Life,” and also to Transformation Thursday at Shabby Creek Cottage. Be sure to click through for more pretty displays and great ideas!

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Belly up to our home-built, super awesome basement bar!

Okay this space doesn’t fall into the category of romantic, or cottage, or any of that… it just falls into the category of kitschy fun! 

When we moved to our new house in 2008, the previous owners left us a pool table in the basement rec room. So we decided to go with the theme and make a game room and bar out of it. We painted it English pub green, Mr. Piglet built a fabulous bar, and we covered the walls and surfaces with fun, entertaining and vintage stuff. Activities for this space include pool, Wii, karaoke, and drinking – those last two being my personal favorites. Ready for a tour? Here we go! 

This is (obviously) the main bar area. The bar itself is hand-built, made from kitchen cabinets (uppers) and then faced with hollow-core doors. 

Another view of the bar. The top is also made from hollow-core doors, joined together in an L shape and then anchored to the base with L-brackets.

Here’s the bar mirror and the “top shelf,” also hand-built by Mr. Piglet. I like the little rail that corrals the bottles.

Here’s a close-up of the bar top. We glued down dozens of these little “dash plaques” from many of the car shows we used to go to, then poured liquid epoxy all over it. The epoxy was a mess-maker, but it turned out really neat.

The jukebox plays an iPod so you can pump your favorite playlist into the bar. Next to the box is one of several autographed celebrity photos all – miraculously – made out to Steve (Mr. Piglet)! The one shown here says, “Steve – we’ll always have Paris! Love, Judy.” 



Here’s the door to the “secret room.” Seriously! When we were going through the house with the home inspector after making our offer, we didn’t know this door was here. A large armoir was parked in front of it. The inspector looked at it from across the room, and said, “Oh, watch this.” He walked over to it, pulled on the armoir, and the whole thing opened on a hinge revealing a little storm shelter room! Obviously he had seen this sort of thing before. We had been in the house at least three times before that, and NEVER knew the armoir was attached to a door!


Here’s a closer shot of the door. That’s faux “diamond plate” and faux “rivets” covering the door – hoping it looks like a heavy-duty industrial bomb-shelter door… which just happens to have a tamborine hanging on it, in case Linda McCartney stops by.

Hey I could’ve said Davy Jones, but he’s unavailable.

What, too soon…? 



The basement has a very nice fireplace, but the chimney is all screwed up so we never use it. Here’s a look at the mantel, again hand-built (but not yet finished). Over on the right you can see the singer’s karaoke screen – the lyrics also appear on a larger tv on the wall out of frame so everyone can see them and sing along. You can also see a few more celebrity photos (“Steve: Many thanks, Jimmy Stewart”). 



Close-up of some items on and above the mantel. That’s my “Bar Hounds” picture, of course, and some other family-favorite items. The Hamms Bear calendar has the name of a TV show on it – “Beat the Bear,” which was a local sports prediction show here in the 60’s and 70’s. The show was sponsored by Hamms, and featured a guy wearing a Hamms bear suit who would come out and write down his predictions for who would win the week’s Big Ten college football or basketball games. Viewers would send in their own predictions and try to out-guess the Bear. (Hence, “Beat the Bear.”) For years, my dad was the guy in the bear suit. 

Finally, here is a little corner where you can listen to the karaoke or wait your turn at the pool table. 

Overall the space is not entirely finished yet (there is still some blank wall space here and there… plus the carpet desperately needs to be replaced!)… but it is a fun party room! 

I’m linking our party room to the Remodelaholics’ “Fun Spaces” link party! Join me for a beverage? 

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