Archive of ‘My Home and Garden’ category

Water Lilies in Watercolor

Water lilies in watercolor

My goal for this painting was to keep the subject simple so I could complete it quickly. But looks can be deceiving, and these water lilies proved to be quite time consuming and challenging. It took me several attempts to render realistic dew drops but I finally began to nail them on the leaf on the bottom right-hand corner. Once I figured out the technique, painting dew drops was surprisingly quick and easy.

The swampy water, on the other hand, was even more challenging. It’s definitely not what I envisioned; and I obviously need more practice painting water. If anyone has any tips or tricks for painting water that they’d like to share, I’m all ears!

This painting was based on a tutorial in Linda Ravenscroft’s book, “How to Draw and Paint Fairyland: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating the World of Fairies.”

Pink and White Outdoor Chevron Rugs–You Had Me At Hello

Purple porch makeover

You Had Me At Hello
It was love at first sight when I found these pink and white chevron rugs by designer Annie Selke on the Dash and Albert website last spring. I was in the middle of planning a spring porch makeover and was looking for colorful outdoor rugs to complement my purple wicker chairs, gemstone colored pillows, and colorful accessories. So the moment I saw these pink and white beauties I threw down my money and did a happy dance. The rugs were on back order but that was fine; it was early in the season so I had plenty of time to pull my porch together.

But my happy dance was short lived when the estimated delivery date for my order was delayed until June, and then delayed again until July, and then again in August. I considered cancelling my order and began a search for a suitable replacement but I couldn’t find anything else that rocked my world. So I waited, and waited, and waited for my rugs to arrive, and pulled my porch together without the rugs. It was a nice makeover, but the porch looked unfinished without the rugs.

You Complete Me
Last week my rugs finally arrived so I swept the porch, dusted the furniture, cleaned the cushions, ran out to a nursery and picked up a few flowers and planted them in colorful pots and finally–FINALLY–my porch makeover is complete. This makeover was a long time coming but oh so worth the wait. Dash and Albert, rugs you complete me. Here are a few more pictures.

Purple porch makeover

Purple porch makeover

Purple porch makeover

Aren’t these pink and white chevron rugs the bomb?

DIY Footstool Makeover

DIY_Footstool_Makeover

In the evening after all my household chores are done,  I like to pour myself a cup of coffee, throw on my jammies, prop my back against some fluffy pillows, and work on my blog from the comfort of my bed. Sounds fabulous, right? But the problem with this scenario is that I’ve been getting way too comfy and I keep falling asleep and waking up in the middle of the night with the TV still on, the laptop on my lap, and a half-written post. My solution? Create a comfy blogging spot in my room–but not too comfy, so I won’t fall asleep!

So, with that goal in mind, last weekend I did a quick DIY footstool makeover so I can prop my feet up, sip on a cup of coffee, and work on my blog without dozing off. My budget for this makeover: a mere $25.00. Here are some before and after photos (don’t you just love before and after photos?).

Footstool makeover before

This footstool was a freebie from a friend. It had seen better days–the fabric was dirty and worn and the legs were scuffed and chipped. But it was sturdy and had good bones and I knew that a quick makeover could take this charming little stool from trash to treasure. So with a can of spray paint leftover from another project in one hand (cost: $0)  and a half yard of designer fabric in the other (cost: $25), I transformed this stool in one afternoon.

First, I removed the worn fabric, then I lightly sanded and cleaned the legs so the paint would adhere properly. Next, I gave it two light coats of spray paint to prevent the paint from dripping and then allowed the paint to dry thoroughly. It’s important to wear a mask and choose a well ventilated area when using spray paint. I normally throw a tarp on the lawn and spray paint outside, or if it’s a particularly windy day, I paint inside the garage with the door open.

Once the paint was dry (about an hour is all it takes), I cut a piece of fabric (mustard fleur chinoise from Caitlin Wilson Textiles) to fit the top of the stool, folded the corners to fit around the legs, then stapled the fabric to the underside of the frame using a nail gun. What a difference a little spray paint and a half yard of fabric makes! Here’s a close up view.

footstool makeover after

To complete my new blogging space, I shopped my house and placed this cute little wicker table next to the chair so I have a handy place to put my coffee and added this pretty aqua lamp that I bought at Target last year. The end result of a couple of hours of work: this cute little blogging nook, no dozing while I work, AND this completed post.

DIY_Footstool_Makeover

Where’s your favorite blogging spot?

Quick Summer Meals

quick summer dinner

Savory BLT sandwiches, sliced cantaloupe, and crispy corn on the cob–what a great combo. I threw together this quick summer meal after a visit to the farmer’s market and it was so easy and delicious that I just have to share. I purchased everything pictured here–except the bread and mayo–at a local farmer’s market. Everything was freshly picked and organic. Even the bacon came from a local farmer. I like supporting local food producers, I like serving healthy meals to my family, and I like the friendly folks I meet at open air markets. Trips to the farmer’s markets are one of the pleasures of summer. Summertime and the livin’ is easy….

Flea Market Adventures

antique majolica plates

Last weekend my mother, sister, niece, and I went to the DC Big Flea at the Dulles Expo Center in Centreville, Virginia. It’s the largest antique show in the mid-atlantic region, and we all found some treasures. Antiquing is one of my favorite past-times. I love browsing the booths in search of majolica pottery, enamel teapots, and other treasures. Here’s a sampling of some of the items that caught my eye.

antique nail bin

I absolutely fell in love with this antique nail bin. It has so many potential uses. Put it in your closet to store shoes, handbags, socks, or belts. Place it in your office to hold office supplies or in your studio to store art supplies. You could place it in an empty corner of your garage to hold odds and ends like baseball gloves, softballs, tools, roller skates, nuts and bolts, you name it. Or, place it in your potting shed to hold pots, seeds, seedlings, and gardening tools. The possibilities are endless with this gem. Love the idea, but don’t have room for a huge nail bin like this? No problem–you can purchase a new one online in a variety of sizes–including a one- or two-tiered rotating nail bin that would fit right on your desk.

antique record player

My mother had a record player just like this one when she was a child. This would look great as an art object in a bookcase.

vintage toy truck

So would this vintage toy truck.

antique purple hurricanes

These purple hurricanes probably rocked someone’s world in the 1980s. They still rock my world today.

antique fiestaware plates

These fiestaware plates would be a great find for food bloggers who are always looking for interesting ways to display their culinary creations. You could match–or contrast–the plates to each particular dish. Yeah, baby!

antique fiestaware pitchers

And these colorful fiestaware pitchers could serve up a bevy of refreshing beverages, like my mom’s homemade lemonade. Hey mom, you haven’t made homemade lemonade in a long time. Hint, hint….

vintage children's clothing

This vintage children’s clothing would look fabulous hung on a hanger as art in a child’s room. Add a straw hat and a vintage tea set on a child-sized table, and you’re set.  I love the black and white polka dress with pink trim.

vintage children's gladiator boots

And these vintage children’s gladiator shoes prove that everything old is truly new again. How awesome are these?

antique majolica plates

There was a good selection of antique majolica pottery. These waterlily and asparagus plates were so pretty. But I was looking for something specific–a large corn pitcher to add to my collection.

antique majolica corn pitcher

After browsing all the aisles I found several majolica corn pitchers of roughly the same size and quality but the prices varied drastically from a high of $400 to a real deal like the one pictured above at just $70.00. I did a happy dance when I stumbled upon this one and it came home with me. It’s always a good idea to view everything at the show before you make a purchase and then go back for the items (if they’re still available) that were the best price. Avoiding the urge to jump on the first item that rocked my world saved me over $300.00. Another way to get a good price is to wait until the end of the show to make a dealer an offer. Dealers are more likely to reduce their asking price at the end of the show because they don’t want to pack up all their items and lug them back home.

vintage melmac dinnerware

My sister snapped up this complete set of melmac dinnerware for just under $80.00. This set will be put to good use in her new home. I can’t wait for her to serve me up some of her awesome brownie cupcakes or pumpkin spice muffins on these babies. Hint, hint, sissy! I’ll have coffee with mine….

vintage enamel teapot

I fell in love with this vintage enamel teapot but walked away without buying it. Now, I wish I had snapped it up. It would look great on my kitchen table or on my fireplace mantel filled with fresh daisies. Drat, drat, and double drat!

My mom bought a vintage pitcher but threw her money on the table so fast that I couldn’t snap a photo! She asked my niece to stop her if she attempted to buy anything, and poor Karen did her best to intervene, but mom was determined to make her purchase. How’s that pitcher werk’in for you, mom? Karen was captivated with the vintage jewelry and picked up an adorable ring made out of a spoon.

We had a great time at the show. It was a fun family outing. The DC Big Flea is held at the Dulles Expo Center four times a year. The next show will be held on November 2-3, just in time for holiday shopping. Yeah, baby!

Dog Days of Summer

My dog, Marty, enjoys a good sniff-fest and rolling in the grass on warm summer days. Mary, who is a more dignified gal, prefers to quietly soak in the the sun and catch warm breezes. They are my constant companions and will happily keep me company as I work or relax in the garden.

I am grateful for quiet days with my canine companions.

My Summer Garden

crepe myrtle blooms

Hi everyone, how is your weekend going? My summer garden is in full bloom this week, so I grabbed my camera–and two of my pups–and headed outside to enjoy the show. I snapped some pictures to share here while the pups enjoyed a sniff-a-thon and then settled down to catch a few rays. My crepe myrtle trees are in full bloom this week. Aren’t they beautiful?

hardy hibiscus blooms

These hardy hibiscus will continue to bloom daily until early fall. I planted them outside my kitchen window so I can enjoy the show from inside the house and watch the hummingbirds drinking their nectar. Hummingbirds can’t resists these huge, red blooms. I saw one this morning while I was drinking my coffee and two others this afternoon, including one little fellow with amazing blue feathers.

calla lily blooms

I planted these calla lilies three years ago, and they get bigger and fuller each year. And the best thing about crepe myrtle, hardy hibiscus, and calla lilies–besides the fact that they bloom in tandem–is that they require almost no care. Just add water during extreme dry spells. That’s it! Easy peasy. Here are a few more pictures of my garden.

summer garden featuring crepe myrtle, hardy hibiscus, and calla lilies

summer garden

summer garden

summer garden

How pretty are these purple blooms and aqua bench? It’s a good thing I have a large stock of aqua spray paint. I see more aqua garden furniture in my future. What’s growing in your garden this week?

Brownie Cupcakes

brownie cupcakes

Redemption cupcakes. Cupcakes you bake to redeem yourself after the cupcakes you brought to work last week (made from a recipe you’d never tried before) were an epic fail. That’s what my sister calls the cupcakes she brought to our family watercolor fest. Made with just five ingredients, you can whip up a batch of these decadent brownie cupcakes any time–whether you need to redeem yourself or not. These cupcakes are so moist that icing is not necessary, but if you’re an icing lover this fluffy white icing made with marshmallow cream is the perfect topping. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make my sister’s redemption cupcakes:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 4 squares semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Combine the melted butter and chocolate until the chocolate is melted. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into a cupcake pan prepared with cupcake liners. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 jar marshmallow cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth and fluffy.

So the next time you serve a dessert that flops to friends or coworkers and you want to restore their faith in your cooking skills, redeem yourself with these babies.

 

Decked Out for Summer Entertaining Part II

Colorful deck accessories

Now that my deck furniture has been freshened up with a new coat of stain, I couldn’t wait to bling out my deck with lots accessories in bright colors. Since the umbrella I bought last year is still in great shape, I chose a palette of green, orange, yellow, and red to complement the umbrella then added some fun stripes and polka dots.

Colorful deck accessories

The sea grass chargers and wooden napkin rings are from Pottery Barn.

Colorful desk accessories

The polka dotted pots from A. C. Moore came in handy for storing plastic knives, spoons, and forks.

Colorful deck accessories

I bought the green place mats, colorful candles, plastic plates, dip bowls, and napkins at Target. It’s a goldmine for affordable outdoor accessories.

Colorful deck accessories

The cute plastic pitcher was a gift from my mother. Thanks, mom!

Colorful deck accessories

What would I do without my two favorite stores, Target and Pottery Barn? What’s your go-to place for inexpensive outdoor accessories?

Decked Out for Summer Entertaining

Outdoor Dining Furniture Makeover

Remember this beautiful Faraday outdoor dining table and chairs that I bought last year from Pottery Barn? Well, they weren’t beautiful for long. After exposure to the sun and summer rains the finish faded, bubbled, and peeled off. So within a few short weeks after I purchased the set, it looked like it had been exposed to the elements for years.

I’m typically a big fan of Pottery Barn, but this purchase was a huge disappointment. Normally, I would have returned the item or asked for a replacement but I loved the style of this set so much I figured I’d just strip the finish off and refinish it in the spring. Well, that’s exactly what I did this past weekend, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

deck furniture makeover

Just look at this beautiful finish. It not only looks as good as new, I think it looks better than new. First, I stripped off the old finish with Strip-X Paint Remover, then I gave it a really good sanding (that was the most time-consuming part), and followed that up with three coats of Minwax Wood Finish in red mahogany. I love the new stain, the color is deep and rich. The type of Minwax I chose also contained polyurethane which resulted in the beautiful glossy finish shown above. And I’m pleased to report that it rained like crazy today and the finish is A-OK.

I found the cute lime and white polka dot pots at AC Moore. I bought the pots of fake grass at Pottery Barn several years ago. I’ll be posting pictures of my decked-out deck next plus photos of this weekend’s family summer watercolor fest, so stay tuned.

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