Sunday, November 29, 2015

DIY Twig Reindeer


If you have followed my blog for awhile, you are probably aware of the fact that I like nothing better than to create using things I already have, or purchased for very little.

Coming up with Christmas decorations this year was no exception. I set out to “shop” in the coolest “store” ever. I did not have to dodge one other shopper, or squeeze my cart through narrow aisles. There were no long lines to check out, screaming kids, or rude clerks. Best of all, I didn’t spend a cent. My dream “store” surrounds our home and is filled with trees and fresh air. :) I feel really blessed to be surrounded by nature!

I collected twigs of various types of wood…



I cut bodies, legs, heads and antlers for a reindeer family. I didn’t use a particular measurement, just kinda eye-balled it and glued the twigs together with my hot glue gun.


He is a little skinny, but cute, don’t you think?

I wanted this to be a family of white deer, so I proceeded to spray paint them, which ended up getting a little out of control.

When you all read my blog posts, don’t for a minute think that things always go perfectly. Believe me, there have been sprained ribs, paint inhalation highs (and NOT on purpose!), metal splinters in the eye, and even blood! A lot of this stuff is my own fault since I don’t follow safety rules like I should. I know I’m getting off subject here, but if you ever drill a piece of metal, always wear safety glasses!

Back to the reindeer… I constructed these deer in my craft room, which is in the upstairs of our house, and when I decided to paint them, I was too lazy to carry them downstairs and outside to be painted on the driveway, like I normally would. I thought these skinny little things won’t need much paint, why not whoosh a few sprays, right there in the craft room?

I shut the door and opened the window for ventilation. I spread newspaper on the floor and proceeded to spray. I had sprayed two and a half reindeer when suddenly no paint came, but the can was still half full. :( This was the only can I had so I needed to somehow get it to work again! I pulled off the little sprayer nozzle and stuck a pin through the hole, incase it was clogged. I then stuck the pin through the opening in the can. It wouldn’t go through, so I pushed harder. It was definitely clogged.

Suddenly the pin pushed through and paint began spurting out. I quickly put the little nozzle thing on, thinking that would stop it, but no, it kept right on coming through that hole! So, I thought instead of freezing and just sitting there, I would at least make use of the paint spraying out and finish painting the half reindeer. That didn’t take long to whiten. I sprayed and re-sprayed the others while desperately thinking how I would get this smelly can of oil-based paint that wouldn’t stop spraying, outside without spraying everything as I went. By this time the room was a cloud of white fog. :(  My “few swooshes” turned into showers of paint!

Needless to say, the paint did diminish and soon I could lay the can on the side and no paint came, only aerosol. Let’s just say for a few days,coming in the basement door you could smell paint. :/ Oh, and the floor in the craft room is a tad sticky. (a good excuse to change the outdated, ugly linoleum?) :)

The really white reindeer family…



After finally drying, the family found a home on our mantle…








I hope you enjoyed the evolution of these white reindeer and are perhaps inspired to create, using mother earth’s many products!

You may want to spray paint outside though!

Best wishes,


Dining Room Makeover


I know it’s been a few weeks since I last posted anything on my blog and many of you have been wondering when I’d post about the dining area of “my kitchen upgrade.”

Since our kitchen and dining area are connected, the dining area needed an upgrade also, to flow with the new kitchen look. The aqua colored jelly cupboard clashed terribly with the new vintagey green in the kitchen and I’m slowly eliminating some of the black furniture in our home. In case you missed the kitchen upgrade, you can read about it here.

I had mixed feelings about removing the aqua color in my kitchen. I still love the color and definitely want to add it somewhere in our home. With the newly painted cabinets and countertops in the kitchen, I thought this green simply goes better with everything…


I finished the dining room a week ago and just haven’t gotten around to posting about it until now. As I worked on the dining area, I had a friendly little onlooker outside watching me with beady little eyes.



Here is our dining room a few weeks ago…





Now, the after, and spending nearly nothing!…


I painted the chairs and brought in a farmhouse table from the shop that I had made this summer. I love how the white brightens up the area!

Since it’s that time of year again, the Christmas decorations are presently displayed. I will share a post on that next week.


The feed sack curtains are another story in themselves, so I wrote a separate post on them. You can read about them here. Let’s just say that even though they may not look like it, they were one of the more difficult jobs, physically, that I’ve ever done!

The table is made of old barn wood that I rescued from someone’s trash pile.

The chairs were sprayed with a water based white paint and distressed.



I also made the wood & metal arrow hanging by the shelf, which didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. To make matters worse, after finally finishing it and handling it with the utmost care, so it wouldn’t fall apart,(and having a bloody hand from cutting the metal) I found it lying out in the yard! Someone thought this would be a cool arrow to play with. :/



I picked up an old picture similar to this one at a thrift store and turned it into a chalkboard.

old fruit pic


After all these years of painting, I am still amazed at the difference paint can make!




Watch for some thrifty DIY Christmas decoration ideas next week…

Thanks for visiting!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Feed Sack Curtains


Here is a quick tutorial on some burlap valances I made this past week for our dining room.

I’m still trying to decide if they were worth all the sore muscles afterwards! They may not look like a difficult task, but they were no easy feat!

Here’s how it went..

I cut the burlap the width of the window and the length I wanted it to hang down. I had previously washed the burlap to make it softer and easier to work with.


I also frayed the edges by pulling the separate strings out until I had enough of a tattered edge.

The next step was applying the French grain design, which I downloaded from The graphics fairy. I was able to get the jpeg as a reversed image, since you need a reversed image for this technique.

I then printed it out first on regular copy paper, just to see if it’s the correct size for the valance. (later it will be printed out on parchment paper to transfer)

Since the largest size my printer prints is 8.5 x 11, I cropped the photo in two, and enlarged both sections to fit an 8.5 x 11 paper. I then taped it together.


I found the center of the valance and marked exactly where I want the image to be with pins…


Since I needed to act kind of quickly with the parchment paper image, the pins helped in getting it aligned.

Next I printed out one half of the image on the parchment paper, which I cut to 8.5 x 11.



I laid it on the burlap, ink side down and carefully pinned it in place, trying not to scoot it around. (this would smear the ink)

The next step was the challenge for me… to get the ink onto the burlap by rubbing a marker, or any object hard and easy to grip, over the paper.


After rubbing as hard as I could, without tearing the paper, this is how it turned out…


As you can see, it’s a little faint. I fixed this by using a magic marker (a paint marker would work great too) and darkening the image.



After printing out the other half and aligning it with the one I had just done, it was rubbing and rubbing all over again. I needed three curtains, and each one got two separate images, so that’s six transfers. Call me wimpy, but I had sore arm muscles the next day! I realize transfer paper would probably have made this easier, but who wants to pay $7.00 for a few sheets of paper?

After I had all three curtains done, I still felt they needed more, like a little color maybe?

I decided to paint stripes along the edges. I made a stencil to do this..


I tested different colors on the other side of the valances, just to see how it would go with the image and burlap..



I loved the red but thought it wouldn’t go quite with the green accented kitchen. We don’t want Christmas colors year round, do we?

I tried green…


Each time I tried the different colors, I would hang them up to see how it went with the dining area. I sure did not want to mess up these curtains after putting all that effort in the transferring!

Green wasn’t quite right either. (I can be really fussy about matters like this :/)

Finally I settled for a dark gray-blue that I made by mixing three different colors of paint together (a combination of craft paint and regular water based paint)..



And.. they were ready to hang…



I was a bit worried that the feed sack, burlapy look would make the dining area look too primitive, which I didn’t want, but I think there’s enough white, French country to even it out.


For the complete dining room makeover, click here.

Thanks for visiting & have a great week!


Friday, November 13, 2015

A Simply Delicious Chicken Casserole


Earlier this summer I had posted about canning chicken thighs and promised to share some of our favorite recipes to use with the canned chicken. Well this is our number one hit. The boys especially love this dish!

The best part is that it’s seriously simple to put together! (note that at the bottom of the post there’s a printable recipe link)

All you need is this…








And here is the recipe…

2 cups cooked chicken

2 cans cream of chicken soup (I have substituted with cream of mushroom, or one of each)

2 cups milk

¼ cup chopped onion (optional)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoon melted butter (optional)

2 cups uncooked macaroni

Velveeta cheese (or any cheese)

Mix together everything but the Velveeta cheese. Put in a casserole dish and top with slices of Velveeta cheese.

Refrigerate overnight. (I don’t always do this, but like to refrigerate a few hours at least.. it will soften the macaronis)

Bake covered at 350° for 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Print Recipe



Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Kitchen Upgrade


I will warn you first thing that the title “My kitchen upgrade” may be a bit deceiving. I should perhaps have labeled this post “My Complete Kitchen Makeover” or “A Total Kitchen Renovation” but it sounded less dramatic to go with simply calling this a kitchen upgrade, since it hasn’t been too long ago that I gave our kitchen somewhat of a makeover. :o

This idea or “wild Hair” as I like to call it started as I was painting a kitchen for someone else recently (you can read about that here.)  and began to feel that urge to make my kitchen more to my liking. It’s not that I didn’t like the way it looked, but let’s face it, no matter how much we like something, there’s always room for a little change. For a while now, a few things had been bothering me about our kitchen…


And this space that we call the pantry area got a lot of red ink!


So… after many hours of painting, a little electrical work, (which hubby & dad did) and a major cabinet door & drawer makeover I was finished and felt a giant step closer to having my dream kitchen!

Lately I had been falling in love with a vintagey shade of green that I soon discovered doesn’t exist in any paint company’s color palettes. :(  I remembered seeing a pendant light in Ikea a year ago that was the exact shade of green I wanted to accent the kitchen with. So, I spent at least an hour with a helpful young lady (you get the best service there) at the local Ormes hardware, trying to match the color of a picture we printed out of the light from Ikea..

ikea light


It’s kinda hard to tell from the picture, the exact shade of green, but believe me, it’s elusive! We did manage to mix some paint that turned out perfect! We also mixed some that didn’t turn out. :(  I am sure they were ready to see this high maintenance customer walk out the door at Ormes! We ended up using the formula for Baby Grass, a Do It Best color and adding a few more drops of black. I will name the color Miracle Green since it turned out so great. :)

I imagined how good this green would look amongst the bead board in our kitchen and also a touch of wood and possibly marble.

kitchen upgrade


The following pictures show the evolution of our kitchen starting about eight years ago to present.

The red era…


A few weeks ago…


As you can see, the cabinets look a little dirty compared to the white surrounding them. When we moved here I painted them using a sanding method. They were originally a stained oak, which had turned orange over the years. I gave them a coat of dark brown paint and then tan over that. I then sanded the edges, bringing the brown out a little. After that, I gave them a coat of oil-based varnish. ( this was before I knew of the water based Polycrylic )

So now I bought white cabinet paint for around $50 a gallon. I only needed one gallon. I applied the paint using a sprayer on the doors and drawers and a brush & roller on the frame.


I decided to skip the polycrylic but I can see that I should have used it. The paint chips a little around the handles and knobs. A few years ago I had painted my sister’s kitchen without using polycrylic and hers are holding out great. The only difference would be that I painted directly on stained oak for hers and mine were painted already, making them smoother. I will probably end up applying the polycrylic eventually. You can read about my sister’s kitchen makeover here.

Just for fun I will add an old grainy picture from this kitchen when I was a girl at home. The picture was taken when the kitchen was brand new. This was a long time ago and mom had since improved the look of it, but I well remember the excitement of getting a new home and how we thought it was the most beautiful place on earth. :)



Now the “after”…



The “before” of the pantry area…

ex pantry

The “after”…


I’m not quite finished decorating this area. I want to collect more clear, green jars for the top of the cupboard and I need something to put in the egg basket. Eventually I will be adding more things, but for now this will do. I was impressed to find a plate that was that perfect green color at the local Goodwill for 50 cents.


As you can see, the doors and drawers went from a flat panel to raised panel bead board. To see how I did this (which is really very simple!) click here.

I also moved the microwave into the cupboard. I cut off some of the door and painted the part where the microwave is and… no more crowded countertop!




You may have noticed that the countertops that used to be black, turned into marble?! (I wish) :) To see how I did that, click here. It was just easier to write a separate post on some of this than to squeeze it all in one.

The lights above the island that took the place of the ladder rack were a brushed silver that I painted with the miracle green paint. We purchased the lights at Lowes.

Any other green accents were painted with miracle green. Even the antique kitchen scale changed color..

ex pantry







If you look closely you can see a fly on the right light. :(  Since it’s been cooler outside they show up in the house and they have a serious hang up with these lights for some reason.



I snagged the old window at a local antique mall for $10.00. I printed out some old medicinal botanical images to display.



Some more kitchen touches…






I am loving my mostly white kitchen! I love the fact that going with whites will enable me to change color accents whenever I please!

I hope you enjoyed this kitchen “tour” and don’t forget to follow my blog for continued updates!