December 19, 2018:


I can't believe we're less than a week away from Christmas and I haven't yet really decorated the kitchen and dinette! I've got the small cardinal tree up on the peninsula counter and my Christmas cards are shaped in the form of a Christmas tree and taped to a wall by the dining table; I put up my colorful teal floral curtains with lots of gold and red, my cardinal prints and added a red tablecloth to the dining table, but that's it! Enough, I suppose.

The tree is done! It seemed to take forever this year to decorate but I am loving the result. It looks like the kind of mish-mash everything on it but the kitchen sink kind of tree I remember from my childhood. The only thing missing is the bubble lights, but I'm too frugal to buy them!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and that the dreaded Polar Vortex stays away!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Look for Less: Ballard Designs Calais Bedroom 4

Here are the posts thus far:

The  Challenge (Introduction) October 23, 2012.
Shopping for the Ottoman - October 31, 2012. 
Shopping for the Headboard - October 24, 2012.

Shopping for the bedding!

I spent many hours looking for a similar pattern to Ballard Design's drop-dead gorgeous Calais bedding in creamy white and shades of navy to lighter blue.  With mixed success, I confess, darlings!

I've mentioned this before -- I'm not the most patient shopper, either on-site or online!  When I find something that is good enough I usually buy it, and generally I've been very happy.  But for these challenges, I've tried to step up my game a little.  Hmmm...

Tonight, whatever possessed me - when I looked at the actual description of the Calais bedding at Ballard Designs, I NEARLY HAD A FRIGGING HEART ATTACK!

I've been shopping now for over a week thinking I was looking for something in NAVY BLUE or SHADES OF BLUE.  And - guess what - THERE IS NO BLUE IN THIS DUVET. 

Also was shocked that this is a DUVET COVER - not a comforter!  For $249 for a queen size?  With faux wood buttons?  ARE THEY KIDDING? 

Close-up of the Ballard Designs Calais pattern.  Does the dark
color look like black to you???  I thought it was navy blue!

Shock and horror, darlings!  Do I start over and toss out everything I'd done before, focusing on smokey to dark blue tones (with mixed success)?  Or do I just chuck it up to one of those things and continue onward, adjusting from this point but sticking with what I've found thus far.

I opted for the easy way.  I stuck with what I've found thus far - which is shades of blue.  Geez Louise!

So, without further ado, here is what I found while shopping for the bedding -- NOW keeping in mind that the actual colors are BLACK, CHARCOAL, TAUPE AND BROWN ON CREAM BACKGROUND.  The original look included a duvet cover (which I actually thought was a comforter and was, therefore, shopping for a comforter with one exception I found - you'll see it below) - $249.00, Euro shams (2) -- $49 each ($98.00 total), standard shams (2) -- $39 each ($78.00 total), and a bedskirt -- $199.  Ballard Designs prices are noted. Total for the look is $624.00.

Here is the opposite of dark-colored design on pale background:  it's a light-colored design on a dark background:

This is from J. C. Penney, the Linden Street Marlon Comforter SET, currently on clearance for $70 (for real) for Queen Size.  Yes, you read that correctly.  And, darlings, it is actually a comforter, not a duvet cover!  And yes, it is a SET -- the only thing not included are the Euro pillow covers!!!  Particulars:
  • all-over floral Jacobean pattern
  • blend of blue, cream and chocolate
  • soft chenille, microfiber and faux linen

    Comforter set includes:
  • comforter with neutral microfiber back
  • pleated linen-like shams with button accents
  • bedskirt has 15" drop; fits footboard

    Full and queen sets have two standard shams. Euro pillow, accent pillows and window coverings sold separately.

    Linden Street Marlon bedding is polyester with polyester fill. Washable. Imported.

  • I liked the pillow shams of the Chaps Allistair Bedding Coordinates, Kohls online.  I thought both the Euro paisely-printed shams and the dark blue-on-blue striped shams would go beautifully with the Linden Street Marlon Comforter (above), but I could be wrong because the blues might clash; I thought, however, that the relative pattern size of the paisley to the floral print was a good match-up:

    Kohls' Chaps Allistair Euro pillow sham, regularly
    price $49.99, sale price $34.99.

    Alas, the blue on blue stripped standard pillow sham only comes with a duvet set (again, a duvet cover, not a comforter -- how naive I've been!). So, I've not included it here since it cannot be purchased separately.

    Another Chaps set at Kohls Online caught my eye.  The queen-size Camellia set is a duvet cover and two shams, on sale at the time I found it for $153.99 (regular price $219.99):

    Chaps bedding is budding with beauty. Featuring a romantic floral print, this duvet cover set conveys undeniable charm. Add breathtaking elegance to your bedroom with this enchanting duvet cover. In blue/white.
    • Durable cotton construction ensures lasting quality.
    • Details:
      • Includes: duvet cover & 2 shams
      • Cotton
      • Machine wash
    Keeping in mind that I was shopping for blue and white or blue and cream, and not black/charcoal as the primary dark colors, I saw this set and thought it was so beautiful and ethereal, but definitely NOT a Jacobean print.  Nonetheless, I selected it because of its colorways and overall pattern.  I think it would take a long time before I ever got tired of looking at this set:

    Pyranees Bedding Coordinates, found at Kohls online:

    Queen size set description:
  • Vermicelli stitching lends a luxurious touch.
  • Details:
    • Includes: Queen comforter, bedskirt & 2 standard shams
    • Comforter cover/shams: cotton
    • Comforter fill: polyester
    • Bedskirt: cotton/polyester
    • Machine wash

  • Regular price is $369.99, sale price was $258.99.  While the color description was not given, I think it's light blue, dark blue, some turquoise blue in there, some charcoal, maybe some black, some lighter brown to tan or taupe tones, on a gorgeously quilted creamy background.  Soooo beautiful!  This set rang my chimes :)

    Oh yes, woman, you've strayed a long way away from that inspiration bedding! 

    I found a very expensive set at Wayfair, the queen size Jardin Bedding Ensemble, for $949.00 - which I would not pay even if I was rich, but it sort of has a Jacobean feel to it, although not as deep, dark or rich a print as Ballard Design's Calais bedding:

    • Queen size includes comforter, 2 euro shams, 2 standard shams, 2 pillow shams, 3 bed skirt with 21" drop, 6 fiber and feather filled accent pillows
    • Face and back material: 100% Polyester
    • Color: Navy
    • Reversible comforter
    • Dimensions: 92"-110" Width x 100" Depth  
    How adventurous are you?  I found this set at Aliexpress (an offshoot of Alibaba, I believe) that is a duvet cover (I think), or perhaps it is just a sheet set?  The description of the set is inadequate, not to mention you'd be ordering from mainland China, but if it IS a duvet cover with two shams the price (which includes free slow shipping), is modest at $79.99, and for a blue and white floral comforter in the Jacobean style I thought it was very nice -- but -- who knows for sure???  Here it is, for your inspection:

    100% cotton dark blue flower white background floral pattern queen bedding set 4 pieces with sheets bed linen.  Huh?

    Scrolling down the website page I came across this description:

    This set includes(1- 2cm error is permitted):
    1 * Duvet/Quilt Cover * 79 x 91 * Inch = 200 x 230 cm
    (Reversible Pattern, the cover comes with zipper closer, you can put your own duvet or quilt into it)
    1 * Flat Sheet * 91 x 98 * Inch = 230 x 250 cm
    2 * Pillow Shams * 20 x 30 * Inch = 50 x 76 cm (Due to the pillow shams fabric cuts from the full duvet cover, so maybe is not same with the pic, but always same with the whole bedding sets)

    That last part -- I think that means that pattern on the cut-out pillow shams may not match-up exactly with the pattern in the duvet cover, but it will be the same pattern and color (???)  Or it means something entirely different...  LOL! 

    I don't know - maybe I missed the boat entirely on this one.  Well, I've still got shopping to do for the lamp, the mirror and that gorgeous demilune table.  Whew!

    The Look for Less: Ballard Design's Calais Bedroom 3

    Shopping for the ottoman.

    The inspiration ottoman (image above) is the Louis XVI ottoman, and I selected one in queens velvet teal with a walnut brown finish, price: $534.00.  It is a generous size: 19" tall by 43 1/4" long by 22 1/2" deep.  It has turned legs and a tufted top.

    It took me a little while shopping to find something I thought was similar enough yet reasonably priced!  First I went to Home Decorators, then I went to Wayfair, com.  I did not find what I was looking for at either place!

    Next, I stopped at Target online, where I found what I think is a great match for a great price:

    Button Tufted Upholstered Bench in Navy Linen
    Dimensions: 18.0 " H x 49.5 " W x 20.0 " D
    Price:  $299.99 (not including shipping)

    The Target ottoman is 1 inch shorter and about 6 inches wider than the inspiration ottoman, and 2 inches less deep.  I love the color and the size, and the look is very similar to the Inspiration ottoman, but it does not have wood trim around the bottom of the cushion and these legs are chunkier, more rounded in appearance and shorter than the legs on the inspiration ottoman.

    I stopped at this ottoman.  The size is close.  Many of the tufted ottomans I saw are too short, or are square, more like for usage as a cocktail table or footstool rather than a "bench" at the foot of a bed.  Don't think I'm going to find any better for this price :)  I couple ottomans were nearly the right size, but were covered in faux leather and/or had straight legs.

    I do want to post this honorable mention from

    This is the Chesterfield Tufted Ottoman in Sea Glass.  It did not come in a darker blue, but it does come in "Neutral," which might be a safer choice than this image which appears pale blue but might tend toward green-blue -- one can never really be sure exactly what the color unless ordering a material swatch ahead of time or sticking with a pale neutral.  The size is generous:  Chesterfield Tufted Ottoman (61016): 48"W x 28"D x 18"H, 29 lbs.  So, it is about 4 inches longer and a whopping 5 1/2" wider than the inspiration ottoman, and one inch shorter.  I fell in love with all of that tufting on the top, as well as the wonderful upholster's tacked finish.  Best of all is the price: $249.00, not including shipping.

    Sunday, October 28, 2012

    Readying the Bedroom for Winter

    This is going to be a long post, photo intensive, just cuz I took lots and lots.  Settle in with your beverage of choice and hope you enjoy!

    Brrrrr!!!!  It's been COLD here the past four days, since having two days in a row earlier in the week where we got above 70!!!  My buddy Ann and I took advantage of the warmth by walking over our lunch hours on two consecutive days, probably the last we'll enjoy until Indian Summer arrives (if it arrives).  Typical Wisconsin weather in the Fall.  Sigh.  Lots of rain too, which we need, but now my grass has been going nutso.  Cut last week and cut again today before the Packers game came on!  Today I wore my wool beret and gloves while cutting the front lawn.

    Back yard is still a mess.  Here are a couple of pics taken today when the sun was playing pee-a-boo in the clouds:

    As you can see, grass needs cutting, leaves need raking (seriously!), crashed down tree limbs during the last storm that I stripped bare still need to be cut up and hauled away.  I still haven't stashed the patio table and chairs, nor did I plant the plants I intended to -- they will have to winter over once again in the garage and who knows if they'll survive another season?  I didn't expect them to survive last season, actually, but they somehow did, and surprised the heck out of my in the spring when, one day, I noticed green sprouting through the dead leaves!!!  Lo and behold, all three survived and thrived on the deck all summer.  I really should plant them before the ground freezes...

    Must be the "nesting" thing taking me over full force once again. Lately, I've been obsessed with all things bedroom.  The past few weeks I've been spending much time online looking at all of your master suites and guest rooms.  Yesterday and today I spent much time putzing around in my bedroom rather than taking care of things that need to be done (like laundry, vacuuming, dusting...).

    Probably in early 2009, or possibly even late 2008, I purchased a queen-sized comforter and two matching valances from J.C. Penney on clearance for a steal of a price.  My bed is full size, so the queen-sized comforter is gigantic on it, gives me plenty of coverage.  It's heavy and very very warm, too.  I don't pull it out until January, usually, when the temperatures are apt to drop way below zero around here and the house feels cold and drafty despite having the heat set at a constant 64 degrees F.

    It's far too early and too warm yet to pull out the heavy-guns Penney's comforter (which is red on one side with a black and white floral pattern on one side in a smooth cotton finish, and a black, red and white plaid pattern in a comfy, cozy flannel finish on the other side!)  I've got a photo of it somewhere, but not on this computer (I'm using the Acer in the dinette today, sitting at the back of the house to take advantage of the sun coming through the patio doors, nice and warm!  I'll put it up later when I switch back to the laptop in the front room.)

    While I've used the comforter since I first purchased it (whenever that was), until yesterday I have not even opened the two valances!  Talk about delayed projects, darlings!  Geez, Jan.
    Ironed valance, patiently awaiting installation.  See the
    tie-up on this side?  it's black/red/white check.
    Anyway, yesterday I pulled the valances out of their packaging at long last, determined to put them up in the bedroom to add the look of some cozy comfort even if they do not, in fact, add one whit of insulation to the room (which they don't).  They sure do look pretty, but I tell you, darlings, it was a struggle, oh yes, a mighty struggle!  Alas, not many photos were taken of me going up and down the chair I used to do things in front of the two bedroom windows...must have made 100 trips up and down, up and down...  my legs got a work out, for sure.  Couldn't hardly sleep last night for achy hip bones, girlfriends... Anyway, it's rather difficult to take a photo of oneself going constantly up and down a chair...

    I pulled out the ironing board and iron. You read that right.  I still own such things :)  Ironed up the valances and discovered that they had tie-ups on them, stationed either side of the middle of the valance.  Yep, had clean forgotten those...

    I didn't iron the tie-ups, just pulled them out of the way.  Then took the valances upstairs and began the switcheroo dance of the curtains.  First, I had to remove the lace curtains hanging on the "behind" rod; then I had to remove the full-length semi-sheers hanging on the "front" rod, shake them out on the patio, toss them into the dryer to remove dust, and then rehang them on the "behind" rod; and then, finally, thread the new/old valance on the "front" rod, even out it's two-inch tall header across the rod and then spent far too much time fussing and fighting with the ties to get the perfect swag effect.  Geez! 

    Eventually, I decided enough was enough and settled for what I'd done.  They're GOOD ENOUGH, darlings.  No, not perfect, but GOOD ENOUGH!  I was mightly tempted to just cut off those ties and let the valances hang straight across, they're pretty enough against the creamy colored curtains and the powder-puff colored walls and since I'd forgotten all about the ties, that was the look I'd expected.  But I was a good girl, instead, and installed the valances as the Goddess of Decorating had intended they be used.  I used the tie-ups!  Shaking my fist at the Heavens, I used the tie-ups...

    The larger window, on the south wall, faces the door into the bedroom.  Look, got the ties nearly
    matching in length on opposite ends!!!
    Here's Window 2, it faces west and is narrower than Window 1.  The ties on this window didn't turn out
    nearly as well as on Window 1, but overall I am happy with the look.

    As you can see, with the removal of the lace undercurtains the semi-sheers let in a lot more light.  Right now that's okay but in the depths of winter they're going to be looking somewhat flimsy, me thinks.  I have much heavier woven toile curtains that I used to hang in the room during the winter, but, unfortunately, the background of those excellent curtains is decidedly antique white and clashes horribly with the colors in these valances.  My options are limited: (1) remove valances which, after all the trouble I went through to get them up after 3-4 years of owning the suckers and never taking them out of their packages, just ain't gonna happen; (2) tack something up behind the semi-sheers cuz I'm not going to add yet another curtain rod, I've already got a double up there and that's enough as far as I'm concerned; (3) get heavier curtains for the winter.

    Ding ding ding ding ding!  The winner is number (2).  Right now I'm laundering the Shari pattern lace lace undercurtains (purchased from Penney's many moons ago) that have been hanging in the bedroom windows since the February re-do. They will be tacked up with push-pins into the wood trim across the window underneath the semi-sheers.

    Other changes to the room:

    (1) The Jaclyn Smith comforter set from K-Mart black and white toile is back on the bed.  It's so pretty and despite the color, it's much heavier than the summer-weight coverlet in cream, beige and grey tones I use during the summer.  This time around, I actually did change out the bed-skirt for the one that came with the set. It's a true black and white in a narrow stripe; the tan and wide black striped bedskirt I've had on my bed the past several years that actually goes with the comforter set I use in the guest room has been dusted out and put away.  The guest room bed sits higher than the 15" drop of the matching bedskirt covers and some years ago I purchased a black gathered bedskirt with an 18" drop to go in that room.

    As you can see, the wrinkles have not "fallen out of" the canopy, despite what the instructions said would happen!
    Sooner or later (probably wayyyyy later), I'll have to attack the canopy with my hand-held steamer.

    (2) Black and white gingham check sheet set now in use; the cream-colored floral toile sheets (you can see it on the bed in the 4th photo above) just does NOT go with the white and black of the Jaclyn Smith toile comforter set.  I have a plain white sheet set that I alternate when one is being laundered; am looking to add something in red, for some winter punch.  Both sheet sets are 100% cotton purchased from Penney's many moons ago and are wearing like iron! 

    (3)  Added the "Good Luck/Good Fortune" symbol in woven red silk with a cast bronze "bi" that one of my brothers gifted to me years ago.  He bought it when he was serving in the Army in South Korea in the late 1970's, I've had it since then.  According to the principles of Feng Shui, every room should have a touch of red in it, to attract good luck and good fortune, if properly oriented vis a vis doors and windows.  I believe I've got mine hung in just the right spot.

    (4)  Slightly rearranged the top of the triple dresser.  The large photo that used to be behind my treasure chest blocking out part of the mirror and bringing a smile to my face every time I looked at it (which was often) is now hanging in the "gallery wall" in the dinette downstairs.  I'm thinking about adding a bronze colored lantern to the dresser but haven't decided on it yet, or where it would be placed if I do.  Removal of the large framed photo has opened up more mirror overlooking the bed -- not good!  The photograph deflected negative energy from the "dark water" of the mirror at night.  So, I will have to rearrange things in my bedroom or find something else to block that mirror energy if I want to keep the room in its same configuration (which I'm very happy with). 

    Oh, since writing the above, I took a slight break (okay, a large break), and added the brass lantern that holds a flameless candle.  The sun was going down when I took my photos, and only one came out clear and without me caught in the mirror, duh:

    As you can see from the photos, short of removing the mirror from my dresser (which I don't want to do), there is no way to arrange my room where the bed will not be reflected to some extent within the mirror; so the dark water effect of the mirror at night (akin to having black furniture and accessories in one's bedroom, NOT good) is countered by the candles and the lit flameless candle; lots of metal and earth colors, and lots of wood also counteract the effect of the dark water, as does veiling or otherwise shielding the bed -- hence, my canopy.

    Just because I took them, more photos of the bedroom as it presently looks:

    Bird print above the bureau; the print is cut out of a print from the internet; the background is a toile pattern in black and white that I dyed in coffee water in the kitchen sink (I don't have tea in the house :))  Notice the red in the berries - they are in my bedroom year-long.

    Another bird print from the bedroom - the "inspiration piece" for the put-together print above the bureau, actually.  This one was ordered online years ago from K-Mart.  Notice, it also has red berries in it :)

    And this little beauty is actually the front of  Christmas card from years ago that I fell in love with, and have saved ever since:

    Of course it has red berries in it, and you can just see the red and gold border.  Seems I've got a thing for chickadee dee dee dee dees...

    I'm thinking about painting the chair with black fabric paint; the black slipcover just doesn't fit well and gets out of shape every time I use the chair, which is often.

    Still lots to do in this room including replacing those white rope ties that came with the canopy with something in black or black interwoven with tan and white, and getting a larger and better print and frame for the Goddess of the Beasts who presently hangs between the south window and the mirror.  I've also been thinking about something for behind the bedstead - hiding behind the veil, so to speak.  Just not sure what would work.

    Here's the final photo for this post:

    I really love sleeping under my canopy at night.  What is it about the "cocoon effect" that comforts us so much?  Does it really hark back to distant prenatal memories of being safe and secure, warm and gently rocked within the waters of our mother's womb?  To block the mirror, I let down the end curtains at night, and re-tie them every morning, as part of the ritual of making up my bed for the day, one of the things I do that makes me feel good

    Beautiful at Any Age: Thelma and Louise Revisited

    Hola darlings!

    Having recently celebrated my 61st birthday, I am all for women who enjoy being who they are, being the best they can be and looking the best they can, no matter what their age.  Today's 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's ain't what our grandmas experienced, that's for sure, especially for the older of us babyboomers.  I was particularly close to my Grandma Newton, who passed away far too young.  In her 50's and 60's she looked old, compared to what women look like today at those ages.
    Davis at Princess Grace Foundation Gala (2012).
    Amazingly enough, I've never seen the film Thelma and Louise, but I am a great admirer of the two actresses who played the lead roles:  Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon.  Now before you say to yourself yeah, these two chicks are hollywood movie stars who have had lyposuction, face lifts, tucks, botox, etc. etc. and have the best of make-up people, personal trainers and lighting (not to mention Photoshopping) to make them look good.  Well - throw all of those assumptions out of the window because both of these ladies are the real deal and they haven't had any work done.  They haven't felt the need!  For moi, other than those damn jowls and sagging neck I HATE so much, neither have I.  Thanks to the L'Bri products I buy from my youngest sister, Yvonne, I've got the best skin I've ever had in my life.  Short of sleeping hanging upside down like a bat, there's little I can think of to counter-act the effects of age and gravity, darlings, although losing some weight has certain helped define the contours of my face, despite the sagging and bagging (yech!) 

    We can ALL be the best we can be, we just need to think about it and spend some time on ourselves and occasionally even pampering ourselves rather than always being there for everyone else -- except ourselves! 

    Here's a drop-dead gorgeous Geena Davis, who is now 56.  She's been married for 11 years to a man 15 years her "junior" and has three children: a 10 year old daughter and 8 year old twin boys.  Whew! 

    Susan Sarandon, October 23, 2012
    It IS hard to believe, as the article noted, that Thelma and Louise came out 20 years ago.  Whew!  Where does the time go?  When the movie was made, Geena Davis was around 36 -- and even at that age Hollywood writes women off as "too old" and "not sexy."  Ha!  Susan Sarandon, who is now 65, was around 45 and having her own family with long-time significant other Tim Hutton (they have since broken up). 

    Here is a recent (October 23, 2012) photo of Susan Sarandon.  She looks fabulous, as always.  Yeah, you can tell she ain't some 15 year old chick trying to look 19, but she's got class, she's got grace, she's got style, she's got face.  Grabbed this image from a get-out-the-vote drive at MTV, something I never watched (and still don't). 

    I want to look like Susan Sarandon.  I need to get some hair hmmm....

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    The Look for Less: Ballard Design's Calais Bedroom 2

    The Calais Bedroom:

    I started my hunt at the top of my list:  looking for a slightly curved top queen-size tufted headboard in a reasonable facsimile for less money (preferably a lot less) than $614.00 (plus shipping).

    I looked at Target first, but they didn't have any tufted headboards in anything resembling a suitable blue. There were neutrals galore, and neutrals galore at Home Decorators, too, which was my next online shopping stop. 

    I fell in love with the shape of this queen size headboard that comes in Carribean Blue velvet for $399.00 plus $45.00 shipping for a queen size, Tufted Arch Headboard, Item 04686.  What's not to love? It is not the shape of the Calais Bedroom headboard but really makes a statement. 


    I think it's just drop-dead gorgeous!  The color, though, is lighter than the blue in the Calais Bedroom headboard.

    For the same price, also at Home Decorators, you could get this Tufted Princess Headboard, Item 04684, also in Carribean Blue velvet:

    This next style headboard more closely resembles the Calais Bedroom headboard in shape, but the color is several shades different.

    I found this headboard at, it's the Skyline Furniture Linen Curved Tufted Headboard, SKU #: SKY2924 | Part #: 340TLINNVY, and it is $342 for a queen size (same price for twin, full and queen) plus free shipping -- at least right now (30 are in stock):

    This headboard is in Navy linen -- not the velvety look of the Calais Bedroom headboard but the color is deeper than the Mediterranean Blue of the two Home Decorators headboards (above).  The lines of this headboard are in-between the lines of proposed headboard 1 and proposed headboard 2.  I like it a lot.  This headboard would be about $100 less than headboard 1 and headboard 2.

    I choose.....headboard 3!  Now, on to shopping for the ottoman.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    The Look for Less: Ballard Design's Calais Bedroom


    It seems there are a lot of bedroom redos and revamps out on the blogosphere the past month or so; or maybe I'm just noticing them more now.  Tonight I went to one of my favorite online inspiration places, Ballard Designs, and lo and behold, they have NINE different bedrooms they are featuring at the present time.

    My eye went immediately to the Calais bedroom:

    Love at first sight!

    Of course, I cannot afford the price-tag of wholesale replacing everything, and even 34 plus years of owning my faux-wood French Provincial bedroom suite hasn't weened me away from loving every line of it - still!  But a girl can always import just a few things to improve her overall look...

    I'm a full-size bed girl myself, but for this challenge I chose the popular Queen size and priced things accordingly.  I will be shopping for some (but not all) of the room components:

    Camden Tufted Headboard
    I chose the Queen's velvet teal in Queen size: $614.00
    It's not actually velvet but has the look.  I thought the Queen's velvet teal was the closest color to the color and texture shown in the photograph above

    Louis XVI Ottoman
    Also in Queen's velvet teal, and I liked the walnut brown finish: $534.00

    Calais Duvet
    It looks a creamy white and a deep blue, and I love the floral toile pattern that also reminds me of beautiful patterns from the Far East
    Queen size: $249.00

    Calais Pillow Shams
    Euro size: $49.00 (x2)
    Standard size:  $39.00 (x2)

    Calais Bedskirt
    Queen size:  $199.00

    Salerno Urn Table Lamp
    26" tall, 16" cream shade included: $139 (x2)

    Bellesor Mirror
    31.5" diameter, antique gold trim: $169.00 (x2)

    Torino Demilune
    Has 2 drawers, I chose the Tuscan brown finish.  32 1/4" tall, 38" wide, 14.5" deep: $399.00 (x 2)

    Total:  $3,086.00.  CHA CHING!

    I times two'ed the lamps, mirrors and demilune tables because although the photograph above doesn't show it, the room hints at having the classically matched sides arrangement on either side of the bedstead.

    So my challenge is to see if I can get the look for less.  Let's see what I can do without sacrificing too much in terms of quality and style! 

    Not included in the challenge: Accessories, rug, white footstool, chandelier. 

    Sunday, October 21, 2012

    What Does Your Kitchen/Dining Table Look Like?

    Hi Everyone.

    If your house is anything like mine, chances are your table acts as a catch-all for mail, projects, computer work, etc. etc.  On mine, my piles tend to get larger and larger and larger... until it's time for the meeting of the investment club that I belong to that meets once a month at my house!  And then I MUST clean the table off and get the kitchen/dinette area into shape!

    What is it about kitchen tables anyway?  Is it just the fact that it's a large flat surface begging for clutter?  LOL!  Don't know.  And countertops - geez!  Same thing!  Look at all the crap piled on that countertop.

    Geez!  There were dirty dishes in the sink, too...

    Sooo, time to do something.  I'd been thinking about what to do; the wall opposite the patio door has been blank for a couple of months, after I took down what used to be on it in preparation for painting that - well - let's just say I haven't gotten around to it yet.  Just like I haven't touched the half-removed wallpaper in the family room that I started to take off in, er, March...

    I wanted to go seasonal; well, even before I started reading DIY and budget-decorating and not-so-budget decorating blogs, I would swap out curtains and table cloths and such for the fall/winter.  So, it's that time of year; shorter days; longer nights; cooler weather; the heat is turned on.  Sigh.

    I'd been wanting to put up a gallery wall in the dinette.  My original thought was to use all matching frames and line them up in a 3x3 grid!  I have the frames!  I thought that would look pretty darn cool.  So, I do just the opposite of my intention (of course).  I don't know what it is about me.  I get perverse with myself.  Weird.

    Anyway, I had to hike to the Pick 'n Save to pick up some groceries, including a fresh supply of peanuts.  But I by-passed the Pick 'n Save and headed toward the TJ Maxx instead.  Oh oh, there she goes...

    I had already visited the TJ Maxx in the mall downtown earlier in the week, where I picked up an autumnal-toned 70" round table cloth on spectacular clearance (a Ralph Lauren pattern, no less), 12" tall smokeless, dripless candles in a rich white (not cream, not that "dead" looking white), that will fit perfectly into my candleabra, and a very large flameless pillar candle with a sort of honeycomb or diamond pattern on the outside.  It is the coolest thing! 

    So now why was I at a TJ Maxx again?  Well, I'd had a vision about something I wanted to put on the wall where I thought I was going to put the photo gallery.  I was on the hunt for two specific frames.

    Instead, I got totally side-tracked and didn't end up buying anything I'd intended to buy! You see, I happened to see this certain table runner and even though I hadn't thought for a second about buying a new table runner, when I saw this one I just knew I HAD TO HAVE IT AND IT WAS PERFECT!  It was a good price ($16.99); it had ALL, and I do mean ALL of the colors that I have in my kitchen/dinette/family room area that are all open to each other - a large space that runs across the back of the house facing west.  Best of all, it was in a cool geometric pattern that for some reason really appealed to me.  I grabbed it.

    Then I found a set of three small flameless candles that I thought might fit inside my large votive owls, so I grabbed them, too.  Turned out they didn't fit -- too large, but small enough to tuck away in hidden places to add flickering light. I love candlelight at night in the front room where I work at the computer, the t.v. on the fireplace mantle and the candles flickering away.  These flameless candles - best invention EVER!

    I saw some really gorgeous glass plates, or maybe they were shallow bowls.  Really large though, and I thought about lugging one or more of them to the Pick 'n Save and then up the hill the mile walk home.  Decided - nope, not today Jan girl.  And I turned my attention to picture frames.  I ended up buying one only, totally different than what I'd envisioned doing.

    Hauled my stuff to the Pick 'n Save and bought my groceries.  Lugged everything up the hill on the hike back home, huffing and puffing.  Round trip - about 2 miles; work-out - priceless :)

    Here's the "after" of the wall; I'd stuck a mirror up on it recently just to take away some of the nakedness of it all without anything on it!  That mirror went around the corner into the short hall where the doors to the basement and powder room/3-4ths bath are, as well as the open staircase to the upper level and the entry to the front room.  It fits that space well.

    Sooo, as you can see.  Totally NOT 9 matching frames in a grid.  The frame I bought yesterday is the one on the left showing me and Mr. Don on the bridge outside of St. Martin's Bridge across the ravine from the ancient city of Toledo in Spain.  It's a little hard to see the colors -- they go perfectly with the colors in the rooms: there is a light blue-green that goes very well with the curtains on the patio door and also picks up the pale greenish blue that's in the new table runner I bought (you'll see that in a photo below).  The two mirrors I purchased a couple of months ago from Target online, intending them to be used in conjunction in the front room with a couple of shelves I also bought from Target.  Well, nixed that idea, as right now I'm going with a more "minimalist" look on the front room walls...  So, the mirrors ended up on this wall.  All the other photographs were already in their frames.  There are brown, green, and gold frames, and the mirrors are sort of bronze-y/taupe-y and give off a Zen vibe.  LOL! 

    While my photographs don't do this wall justice, I have to say that it fits the space and the mood of my house very well!  I'm quite pleased with it.  Best of all, there is plenty of room to add more photographs and hanging tchokies.  As you also see, I had to work around the thermostat!

    Sorry about the reflections from/through the patio door!

    AND - get ready...

    A totally clean countertop!  That's my Norfolk pine that I rescued half-dead from a Christmas basket at the office years ago.  It was less than five inches tall at the time.  That hunk of wood is rescued wood that I found downed in the yard last month after that bad windstorm we had (the one I still have not finished clean-up from).  I call it Dead Dragon's head.  Can you see the broken off horn/ear nearest the camera and the "eye?"  The "chop mark" on the neck?  Well, okay.  I see a dragon's head when I look at this piece of wood :)

    And here's a photo of my spray-painted leaves a little over a week later - they have curled up a little bit but I love the painted effect!

    The ladies of the investment club really liked them, and couldn't believe how easy it was to "make" them -- just a bunch of wet leaves I spray painted with hammered bronze and some gloss white.  Will definitely do this again next year, maybe trying out lots of different colors. 

    Here's the new table runner:

    Shoot!  The colors didn't come out exactly right.  What looks like greyish on my monitor is actually a pale blue-green (celedon).  I really liked the geometric pattern and the colors are spot on with what's going on in the rest of the space across the back of the house.  The summer tablecloth is gone, replaced by the warm MDF "wood" tones of my dinette table and the runner. 

    Look, Ma, a clean table top!

    Those sheer curtains on the patio door are a pale blue-green.  To the left, you can see part of a family room wall with the remains of wallpaper on it that has yet to be removed...  I absolutely love this cast iron globus (armillary sphere) that I purchased earlier this year from Kirkland's online.  I am in love too with my new runner :)

    Sooooo.  Got the clean-up accomplished, got the gallery up on the wall!  Just not the "look" I had originally envisioned! 

    Still to do - I need to lower the curtain rod holding the sheers in the dinette; they are only 81" long and they dangle above the floor some inches.  HATE that!  I also have a new rod I purchased and for the "winter" look I'll be adding a valance over the patio door.

    The family room -- it's a mess!  Half-packed boxes of stuff from the bookshelves litter the area as well as stacks of research on family trees and chess history that need to be sorted through, organized, and put away; the bookcases have yet to be totally stripped.  I had no idea HOW MUCH STUFF those two bookcases hold!  Geez!  I already have half a dozen boxes loaded with stuff tucked in the garage and in the guest room upstairs. 

    I really do want the house in order prior to the holidays.  That doesn't leave me much time to get things done. But with the health, family and other issues that have occurred during this Summer and Autumn from Hell, I just don't know if I'll be able to get it all together...

    All I can say is - Thank Goddess for my Family and my Friends.  They have been absolute lifesavers and steadfast with me through this horrible period in my life.

    Saturday, October 20, 2012

    Spray Painting Leaves

    Hi Everyone.

    I apologize in advance to the blogger whose site I visited but did not note the url.  She had put together an autumnal theme using real leaves she had bleached to a ghostly effect.  They were really cool!  But fragile.  Her idea of bleaching leaves gave me the idea that ultimately led to - taking a short-cut. What follows is the progression of my not-always-logical-thoughts:

    I thought perhaps I might be able to do the same thing myself, only quicker than soaking the leaves in a pan of bleach overnight and then drying them out, and perhaps by-passing the fragility thing...  Ha!  Ha ha ha!  Joke on me. 

    I first tried painting a bleach/water solution on to the leaves with a water color brush and letting them dry on newspapers spread out over my kitchen counters.  No change in color occurred.  Then I tried painting on straight bleach.  Nope, no change in color with that method either.

    I'm not particularly patient.  Without doing any internet research on the subject, I decided after about an hour or so of futzing around with bleach and leaves to go for the gusto.  I collected many more wet fallen leaves on my front lawn and driveway (it was stormy outside last weekend and windy, there were a lot of leaves from which to choose).  I set up a spray paint area in the garage, which for me consists of laying layers of newspaper over the concrete garage floor.  I then set the leaves down on the newspaper fairly close together and yet separated. 

    I spray painted them one side at a time, first using hammered metallic bronze and then a few spritzes of gloss white on each side to finish them up.  I did NOT dry the leaves before spray painting; I thought the water droplets remaining on the leaves might give me an interesting effect, and I was also thinking that if I put enough spray paint on the leaves, some of that moisture might be trapped on the leaves and they wouldn't curl up and "die" in a day or two.

    It didn't take long for the leaves to dry.  Because of all the moisture still in them, they were easy to manipulate.

    I pulled out of my stash a large "champagne" shaped decorative glass, filled it with hazelnuts, and then stuck the leave stems in, one by one.  This is what I ultimately arrived at:

    Close-up of the textured effect of spray paint over wet leaves.

    Overall, I was very pleased with how my leaves turned out. 

    Another close-up.  It is so cool how some of the leaves turned out looking ghostly, some turned out looking
    gold, and some turned out bronze-colored.