Coming up in 2016

My dog Ray

Happy New Year!!!  Wow, did the holiday time fly or what?  Oh I know, it does every year.  Still I say the same thing, where did the time go as if this was my first holiday ever. Ha!  Before we completely move on from the holidays, I have to ask, was your holiday good?  I really hope so.  Our household is sad to see it coming to an end.  Christmas break for us was the typical warm family moments followed by moments of chaos and coming apart at the seams.  The usual.  One moment I am in love with my husband and kids so much it almost hurts. I see them all charming, sweet and little blessings and then the next day I’m all… why are there dirty socks on the kitchen counter, why haven’t you boys showered in 4 days, what’s wrong with you people and this place is a crap box!  Ahhh you got to love real life.  Speaking of real life, today I am trying to put the house back together and trying to remember to count my blessings along the way because I hate the clean-up.  Clearly I don’t like it because I have slipped off to the office and I am writing instead of cleaning.  Doh!  And my excuse is organization just isn’t on my list of God given natural abilities.  I am very good at making big things, creative ideas, crazy projects and naps.  Clean up skills didn’t make the list.  Sorry Honey.

Decor Box

So while I am avoiding packing away the Christmas tree let’s talk about the coming year.  I have lots of projects in the works.  This winter we will talk parties and DIY weddings.  I want to show you how to put together your own arrangements.  My mom did these for my Christmas wedding.

DIY Wedding cake topper

Wedding FlowersThey were stunning and we will show you how to make it.   I’ll go through how we did this farm wedding for my sister and share the lessons we learned through the process.

DIY Farm Wedding

Lighted Barn

I have more furniture in the basement that need make overs like these that I previously did.

mid century modern makeover

Painted and glazed buffett

I will do my best to document my process for you.  I have many projects in the house as well.  Since we are still fairly new to this house, I have complete rooms that need to be transformed from blank walls into something not so blank.  I am not a decorator but I am a creator of all the parts and pieces.  I will make curtains, art work, paint and personalize furniture for these spots.  My teenage son wants me to paint an ocean themed mural in his room and he is not budging so a mural is in the works.  The other son needs comic walls so that is also on the docket.  I hope there will be time to get to the master bedroom as well.  Oh and the upstairs rec room needs everything.

Empty Upstairs Rec room

Heaven help me.  In between procrastinating starting the bigger projects I will tinker and make lots of little stuff like painting my little signs.  I love painting!

Easter bunny painted sign

You can pretty much assume if I am doing a nice little project that there is some monster project in the garage that I am avoiding at the moment.  See how that works!  That should take me through spring and summer then before we know it we will be approaching Halloween and costume making time which is always a big deal in my house. Here are last year’s creations.

DIY Hamburger Costume

Bush Halloween Costume

James the walking Bush

I will show you how I made these and much more.  This year the teenager is trying to get me to make him a giant Disney quality Velociraptor costume.  I am going to do my best to talk him into something else.  I don’t know what the younger one wants to be but it has to be easier than a moving Velociraptor.  Oh just shoot me now.   And then we will be back into the holiday season with all sorts of fun.  So that is the plan friends.  I hope you will stick around, follow the blog and see how it turns out. I am curious myself!

Many Blessings,


Our Christmas Nonsense


Buddy the elf quotes

Well we are two days from Christmas and as usual, I’m not ready.  I’m not sure if I’m laughing to myself about it or slightly panicking.  I think it’s a little of both.  This is nothing new.  Everyone that knows me is not the least bit phased by my last minute endeavors and general chaos swirling around me.   But what has me laughing is my mom who keeps walking in my house and exclaiming in sincere surprise, “oh my goodness, it looks like you’re not ready!  You do know Christmas eve is tomorrow?!”   Inside I giggle while simultaneously holding back all the sarcastically peppy replies that are begging to be set free.   It’s my Mom and she is good to me so I try to just grin.  However, it is humorous because she still acts surprised after knowing me for 44 years!  And not to mention Mom, you were at my house just yesterday.  Yep.

So what I have to do today is wrap gifts.  I have been gathering my supplies and I found all the Elf gift tags that I made and have used the last couple of years on my kids’ presents.

Elf quotes gift tags

They are really silly but hey, I have boys and they love that sort of thing.  And I can’t help myself, I’m kind of ridiculous too.  So for all the Elf movie lovers like us who obnoxiously quote Elf all season long, I hope this will make you smile.  I would share them officially with you but since these are likely licensed images I probably should just show you what we do for ourselves and share some great movie quotes so you make your own.

Merry Christmas and don’t be “a cotton-headed ninny-muggins.”


Buddy the Elf….

“First, we’ll make snow angels for two hours, and then we’ll go ice skating, and then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then to finish, we’ll snuggle!”

“I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite.”

“I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.”

“You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody! It’s great to be here.

“I’m a cotton-headed ninny-muggins.”

“I am sorry I ruined your lives, and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR.”

“It’s just nice to meet another human that shares my affinity for elf culture.”

“Francisco! That’s fun to say! Francisco. Frannncisco. Franciscooo.”

“Buddy the Elf! What’s your favorite color?”

“I think you’re really beautiful and I feel really warm when I’m around you and my tongue swells up.”

“You stink. You smell like beef and cheese! You don’t smell like Santa.”

“Have you seen these toilets? They’re GINORMOUS!”

“Watch out, the yellow ones don’t stop!”

“The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

“It’s just like Santa’s workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms… and everyone looks like they wanna hurt me…”
“What about Santa’s cookies? I suppose parents eat those too?”

“You sit on a throne of lies!”

‘SON of a NUTcracker!”


“What’s a Christmas-gram? I WANT ONE!”

“He must be a South Pole elf!   He’s an angry elf”

“The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

DIY Christmas Window Wreaths


Hi Friends!
I received a couple of questions on how I made the lighted wreaths for my windows this year.  So I thought I would attempt to go through what I did and pray it makes sense.

DIY Christmas wreaths

To start with, making window wreaths for all my windows wasn’t part of the Christmas plan.  I’ve thought about it a few times but I always nix the idea because I wasn’t sure how I would hang them.   The problem is, I don’t have double hung windows.  My windows open from the bottom and our top window is stationary.  This means the normal way of hanging the wreath by attaching a ribbon around the wreath, opening up the top window and then closing the window on the ribbon to hold it all won’t work for me.  I love the look or wreaths hanging from a long ribbon and thought about getting up on a ladder and finagling some way to hang them from the trim. That could work but  I don’t own a two story ladder.  Even if I did , I don’t own that many wreaths!   I would need EIGHT.  So you can see there were just a few issues here.  But then a few weeks ago I was in the craft store with my mom and I saw all the plain wreaths out and I just couldn’t help myself.  Next thing I know I am loading 8 of those puppies in the cart and declaring I’m making wreaths this year people!  Who cares if I can’t hang them 😉

So let’s make some wreaths…

The short version

Get some wreaths the right size for your windows
Wire in ball ornaments in a pretty sliver, red and white pattern
Add a bow & lights
Hang and enjoy the beauty.
Have a nice day.



The Long version
 What I used…

  • Wire
  • Hot glue
  • Twine
  • 8 plain inexpensive fake evergreen wreaths.
    •   I acquired 8 wreaths, one for each window.  I have two sizes of windows.  The windows in the center of my house are 34” wide and the side windows on my house are only 20’’ wide.  Because there was so much of a size difference in the windows along the front of my house, I decided to use two different sized wreaths.  I chose 24-inch wreaths for the big windows and 12-inch wreaths for the side windows.  Make sense?
  •   Shiny and matte ball ornaments in red, silver and white .  I used a combination of sizes. From large to small just like I used for the garland project (I explain more about the ornaments needed post and wiring them in my garland  here
  • White pine cones–  each wreath gets three (I just take plain pine cones into the garage and give them a shot of white spray paint.  I ad some left over from last year that I had already glittered but that is not needed.  Plain white is just as good)
  • Lights.  I used a 60 bulb strand of red and white lights.  The same ones I used on the garland project
  • Outdoor ribbon.  You can use regular wired ribbon but it will fade in the sun.  I used it anyway because I don’t mind making bows and I will likely change them from year to year anyway.Christmas Porch


So to start with…

how to make a bow

–          Make your bows. Tutorial here

wired ornaments

Gather your ornaments and wire them.  I basically just wrap wire around the tops and secure with hot glue.

–          Next I lay down my wreaths, fluff and reshape.  I made my kids help me do it.  I believe in free labor! Ha. Yeah they complain but I pretend I don’t hear them and keep going.  Chop chop kids, we got wreaths to build!  #momzsweatshop.  Anyway, the wreaths get smashed in the store and all you have to do is pull and reshape the branches.  It’s not hard, make your kids do it.

quick tipMake sure you ask your husband to help too.  This will very successfully clear the room of teenagers and husbands because they migrate upstairs to avoid helping.  You now can make a nice hot cup of coffee, enjoy the peace and quiet and have total control over the TV while you work. 🙂


Christmas Wreath building

–          I divided up my ornaments evenly among the wreaths –  that way I wouldn’t get carried away putting too many on the first 5 and then have to decorate the last ones sparingly because I was running out of materials.

–          Before I wire anything down, I lay out all the wreaths on my family room floor.  I flop down my bow so I can see how much space it will take up.  There is no sense in adding decorations that will just be covered up by the bow.

building a wreath

–          Now I lay out a pattern. I place 3 pine cones around the wreath, distributed in a triangular shape.

Christmas wreath

–          After that I lay down the ornaments.  I try to make little groups like one big red shiny ball, a medium silver and a small matte red.   Next I may do a large silver and large matte red and small red shiny.  Get the picture?  I try to balance out the use of matte and shiny and color.  The color is predominately red with just accents of silver and white.  It is not an exact pattern; you just want it to be balanced.  With some of mine, I felt like I just dropped the balls on and it looked great right away while others I felt I have to rework like a puzzle because I just couldn’t seem to get it.

dit window wreaths

quick tip  It’s not hard but occasionally if I felt I was getting stuck or over- thinking it, I would just set it aside and focus on something else for a brief period.  A little break always helps me come back with a fresh eye and the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place once again.

–          Now I go back and wire the ornaments down to the form by pulling the wire through and then twisting it.

quick tip When I think I am about done, I hang the wreath from a wreath hanger on a door in my kitchen.  It’s near where I am working.   This helps me to step back and see how the wreath is going to look hanging up and find any problem areas.   I fix any holes or move things around that I may not like.

diy Christmas wreath

–          After I am done attaching all the pine cones and balls, I wire in the bow.

–       The final step is to add the lights.  I take my red and white string of lights that we made and tuck them around the balls and pine cones throughout the wreath.  I used the same size light string on both.  With the smaller sized wreaths, I tucked the excess lights in the back.

quick tipI like to add the lights last so they do not get buried by the ornaments. I also have the lights plugged in when I do this so I can see how the bulbs are being distributed.  It basically just makes it easier to see.   Make sure the  plug comes out the back.

Now they are ready to hang.  My solution for my hanging issue was to tie a string on each side of the wreath from the wire frame on the back.

single hung window

On my windows, I removed my bottom screen and tilted open the bottom window.

I set my wreath out and while holding the strings I tried to get the wreath center on the window.  You will need an extra set of hands.  I had Aaron, my nephew-extraordinaire, come over to help since my family was in hiding.  Just kidding Honey.  He was actually out putting the lights in the bushes for me.  Anyway, I made sure my plug was coming back into the house and then shut the window.

hanging the wreaths

I tied the string around the lock and used white duct tape to secure it.  I attached an extension cord to the plug, added a timer and we were good to go.  So far they have withheld some serious wind here in Cleveland and the haven’t slipped yet.  Thank goodness!

House Lights

I did something different for the big window on the Porch.  I’ll try to show you tomorrow.  Right now I’m off to curl up next to my  Hubby and watch a movie.

How to decorate a christmas wreath

Decorated Porch

Merry Christmas,


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Red Chest Before & After and Mud Room Solutions

furnature before and after

A few years ago, I found this big buffet. At first, I thought I could refinish it and it would be wonderful. But, when I closely looked at this piece I found it almost beyond repair. The veneer had peeled away and was missing in several spots.   And as an added bonus, the mirror and the drawers were broken. Off to a great start huh?

Buffet befpre

Well, I wasn’t sure how I was going to tackle its issues or where I would even put it if I did fix it up. So it sat in the garage for about two years, where frequently my sweetie lobbied to carry it to the curb for me. I would politely thank him for his offer and with sincere understanding he would agree we should ABSOLUTELY keep it and that one day it would greatly enhance our lives. Ok so maybe that last part isn’t true.   The real story is, I would ignore him and he would roll his eyes.   And maybe under his breath he used the words “crazy lady” and “running out of space” and some other things that I didn’t really hear because I had already tuned him out. Oh sure like that never happens in your house.

Anyway fast forward to moving into this new house. This home has a sweet little mud room off the garage.

Our Palermo

At first I thought it would be the perfect space for the popular locker like cubbies with cute coat hooks. It was a great idea but then the reality check came…I don’t have anything like that. And even if I did, my cubbies would never look like they do in the magazine. You know, all neat and tidy with one small coat hanging on a hook and one pair of shoes tucked tidily in its individual cube. My family would pile every coat and sweatshirt they own on their hook despite the fact that there is an actual coat closet in the room. Each hook would have 3-5 coats and there would be at least one laying on the floor because it fell off of the pile. The backpacks would be half in and half out of the unit and there would be one stray mitten in the mix that will never find his match. Add some keys and mail in the pile and that will pretty much be our mud room cubbies. Ok scratch the locker cubby unit idea. But I still needed something for extra storage beyond the coat closet in there. That is when I realized the big broken chest could be just the perfect fit. So while we were in our temporary apartment waiting for the house to be finished, I tackled the broken beast…

  • First I stripped it with good old fashioned furniture stripper and removed the drawers to be clamped and glued back together.
  • I also glued back all the veneer I could.  For the missing veneer patches I used Bondo All Purpose Putty.   Bondo is perfect for those big filler jobs. Its dries quick, is sandable and permanent.
redchest durring

Bondo Patch

  • Next,  I sprayed it with a red paint that I can’t tell you the color because I mixed a few different reds together that I had left over from other projects. Yeah, I’m a saver. Sorry Honey.
  • After I had it painted it, I mixed dark brown paint and clear glaze and applied it to the piece with steel wool.  I also used a dry brush to feather out the glaze to give it softer shading and depth.   I will demonstrate this technique in detail in a future post for another day


red chest painted& shaded

Chest painted and glazed

  • Lastly,  I used a wipe on poly to give it protection. It’s going in my mud room and it will need to take the abuse of boys. To solve my broken mirror problem I created a chalkboard tutorial here to fit in the frame where the mirror would have been. It is perfect for notes to the family.  I also added some hooks under the top piece to hang our keys on.
red chest makeover

It all came together and the red works perfect with the chevron wall I painted in there. I will show you how to do that too in a future post.   A buffet in the mud room is a little left of center but it works!

Palermo home

What do you think?  Do you have a space that may need some outside the box thinking? Sometimes the best solution is thinking differently about something we already have.    Good luck on your own creative adventure!


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How to make a magnetic chalkboard

magnetic title

Raising a family isn’t always rainbows and ice-cream sundaes.  At least it’s not in this house.  While our home is often full of laughter and fun, the reality is it is also full of discipline, chores, obligations, responsibilities and at times a lot of chaos.  Even though I regularly hug them and say the words I love you, I still catch myself saying in my head, “I hope they know they are loved”.  I hope they know that if nothing else goes right today, I deeply love you.   That thought inspired me to make this bold chalkboard sign that my boys & husband would see before they left the house each day.  I enjoyed making it so much that I thought I would share the process.




Here is the breakdown of what you need

  • Frame
  • Ruler
  • Sheet metal
  • Thin plywood (to back your chalkboard in the frame)
  • Tin snips (a type of heavy scissors for cutting tin)
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Your design
  • White graphite paper
  • Liquid chalk markers

chalk design

The first step was to create a chalkboard… I measured the frame I was going to use to use to hold my chalkboard and then headed to the hardware store for some sheet metal.   I am using sheet metal because I want my chalkboard to be magnetic.   You can find sheet metal easily at a Home Depo or Lowes store.  While you are at the store, you may want to pick up some tin snips, chalkboard paint and thin plywood.  The Plywood will go behind the sheet metal in your frame.  Also, keep in mind that if you don’t have a saw at home you can have them cut the plywood right there in the store.  I already had the scrap plywood and a saw in my basement. I borrowed the tin snips from Dad so I didn’t need to buy those either.  Once I was home, I took my sheet metal and marked off with my ruler the size I wanted my chalkboard so it would fit in my frame.   I then cut my sheet metal to the correct size using the tin snips.  I also cut my plywood to that size.

Next, I simply painted my sheet metal with the chalkboard paint.  You can either roll it on from a can or spray it with chalkboard spray paint.  Once that is dry you basically have your chalkboard done.

Now I moved on the creating my design.  I used Photoshop but you can do the same thing in many other programs since it is basically just laying out type.  I start by making my page size the same as my chalkboard.   I pick my font and typed my message. I fussed with it on the screen a little till I got it just the way I wanted it. Now I need to print. This project is 39.5 inches by 9.5.  My home printer is set up to print on paper that is 8.5 by 11.  Obviously my large sized design is not 8.5 by 11 so my solution is to print my design in sections.  I now have 6 printed pages.  I lay out the pages out and start to line up the design. To help with this I use the sun coming through my sliding glass window which makes for a fabulous natural light box. I tape my pages together and have one big page.

Now I need to transfer my design.  There are many techniques to do this.  I find for sign making this, I like using graphite paper to trace and transfer.  You can find it in the fine art section of the craft store and it comes in black or white.  White is perfect for chalkboards.  You could freehand your design but why spend an hour trying to get the spacing just right when you can spend 5 minutes just transferring your pattern.  So place your graphite paper under your design and trace.  You are going to want to double check that you didn’t miss any spots before you pull the paper away.  I’m a bit of a knucklehead and somehow I always manage to miss spots.  On this project, I traced the whole thing and when I pulled back the paper my chalkboard was still blank.  I realized I had the graphite paper upside down.  Doh!    Back to tracing.  Once it was traced and I actually did correctly this time, I simply used a liquid chalk marker and filled in my design.  Pretty easy huh?  You could use chalk but chalk is messy and not as vibrant.  I like the chalk markers.  They don’t smudge and wipe away with water.  They are great for temporary designs.  The downside is it is hard to layer the color.  I would much rather use paint and paintbrushes but then it wouldn’t be temporary.   So chalk marker it had to be.   I will admit when I needed to do the small letters I cheated and I dipped a paintbrush into the marker and painted on the liquid chalk with the brush for the fine parts. I don’t think it was cheating but my husband said it was.

Lastly, I put my finished chalk sign in my frame and added the plywood behind it to give it a sturdy backing.  And I was done.  I was happy with how it turned out and my sweetheart liked it too.  That made it even better.  I hope this helps someone.  Good luck with your own sign making!



Come back tomorrow and I will show you the before and after of that red chest that is holding my chalkboard sign. (here)


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How to make a bow


While Christmas is several weeks away, decorating for Christmas is right around the corner.  Big bows are a Christmas decorating basic and we see them everywhere.    Recently, I had several friends tell me they didn’t know how to make a big bow.  I was a little surprised because it’s such an easy thing to do.  But then, when I thought about it, I probably wouldn’t have known how to make one either if I hadn’t grown up with a mom who was a art teacher. Since we can’t all have moms that were art teachers, I thought I would share my simple way to make a great bow.

So Grab your spool of ribbon and let’s start.


  1. Start by making a small loop and hold it between your thumb and forefinger.  This is going to be your center.
  2. Next twist the tail of your ribbon and form your first loop.   You will twist the ribbon each time before forming a new loop because it helps the bow hold its shape and not slip.  Add the newly made loop to the center loop that you have pinched between your fingers.
  3. Do this till you form about 4 loops on each side.  This does not count the center start loop.
  4. Lastly, make one final extra-large loop that will be cut later to make the tails of your bow.
  5. Insert a wire through the center starting loop and wrap it around the bundled loops you have pinched between your fingers.
  6. Twist the wire ends together to secure your loops.
  7. Use your scissors to cut the ribbon from the spool.  This will form your first tail
  8. Next cut in the center of that last extra-large loop you made.  This will form another two tails.

(if you only want two tails instead of three, when you cut the ribbon away from the spool, make the cut close under your bow so it won’t be seen)

  1. Lastly your bow will likely look rumpled.  Just fix and fluff the loops till you think it looks right.
  2. Wahla you have a beautiful Bow!

Keep in mind…

  • You can use wired ribbon or non-wired ribbon.  But wired ribbon is often easier to work with.
  • Sometimes the ribbon you are gathering between your thumb and finger can get a little bulky and slip.  If that happens don’t worry just start over.  It can take a couple of tries to get the hang of it.
  • The number of loops on each side is up to you.  For a simpler bow add less loops on each side or for a fuller look add more loops.
  • I like to use a chenille stem to secure my bows because they can be easier to work with then plain thin wire.  But in reality I just use whatever I can scavenge up from my basement craft pile.   It’s all good.
I hope this helps someone.

Enjoy your bow making


check out my next project (here)

Palermo home

mud room off garage

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