Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An Unexpected Shopping Spree!

I'm really excited about sharing today's post.  It doesn't contain any mind blowing tutorials, or even any great DIY projects.  But it's exciting to me because it's all about my first partnership.  Well, maybe partnership isn't the right word.  Maybe sponsor?  I don't really know actually since this is my first time doing it.  : )

About a month or so ago I got an email from a media corporation asking me if I would like to join their campaign with a website called  I would receive free product to try and all I had to do was blog about my experience.  Well.....let me think on that awhile before I get back to you.  NOT!  I responded so fast to that email I bet they didn't have time to breathe in between sending it and receiving a reply.  I've read about other bloggers getting opportunities like this and I had always hoped I would be able to do it as well someday, and now my "someday" was here!

After a few more emails back and forth it was all set and I was told I could peruse the website and choose $250 of product to try!!  SHOPPING SPREE!! Oh man was that ever fun!  I spent a very long time considering all of my options.  I was considering a chandelier for our dining room, or maybe a new farmhouse style faucet for our kitchen sink, but in the end I decided I didn't want to spend it all in one place so to speak.  I ended up ordering five products that have been on my wish list but haven't been a priority before this.

 I've been working on finishing up both of the kiddos' rooms and on my list for those projects were ceiling fans for both of them.  Not terribly exciting I know, but something we've needed for an entire year but didn't really have the extra cash to spend on them.

We live in Florida and the summers (and the spring....and the fall) tend to get really hot and even though we have central air, ceiling fans are a must for circulating the air.  Plus, the fact that both kids are just like me in that they have trouble sleeping well without being able to feel some air movement.  In the meantime, we had been making do with little plastic oscillating fans that we already had in each of their rooms.  They looked ugly and collected dust like crazy, but it was our only option for the time being.  They both also had basic, ugly, flush mount ceiling lights.

I can't show too much of Lil Man's room yet, because that room reveal is yet to come.  I have a project to finish up this week and then I plan to show you most of it.

So, back to the ceiling fans.  I ordered two of these white Westinghouse fans.  
I went back to their website to find the link to share with you, but it appears they're not carrying this particular one anymore.  But {this} brand is almost identical.

So far we really like these.  Hubs got them up and installed in no time, and they feel solid and of good quality.  We have fans in other rooms of our home that are from the "every day low prices" store and they feel cheap compared to these.  Something is always going wrong with them, but these are quiet and seem really well made.

My favorite feature of them is the pull chains.  They have a little light and a fan emblem on them so there's no confusion about which one to pull.  Very handy!

And now, with the ugly plastic fan out of the way we can come up with something much prettier to display on their dressers.

Here's another quick "before and after" that has nothing to do with this partnership, but it happened at the same time so I wanted to show you.  

Another project for each of their rooms was to get rid of the ugly, grimy, cracked and broken, blinds in their rooms.  They were terrible already when we moved here, but after a year of not cleaning them they were much much worse.  I don't do mini-blind cleaning.  I just don't.  I'd rather pitch 'em and buy new ones than to clean them.  I much prefer roller blinds that don't require so much upkeep.  Plus, you don't have to worry about dangly cords in children's rooms.

I replaced my daughter's with these pretty scalloped edge ones from JCPenny and man, what a difference!  
SO much better, and the scalloped edge adds a nice feminine touch.

Ok, back to the FREE products now!

Another thing on my wish list (but not priority list) was new porch lights.  Ours were horribly sad.

They were too small, they were corroded and grody, and even still had the stickers on them from when they were put up years ago.   So ugly.

The back porch had the same depressing light with the same sad story.

The side entrance (actually the one we use the most) had a decent enough light that was still in good shape, it just wasn't quite my style.  And since this is basically the main entrance I wanted something a little more "me" here.

In comes..... 2 barn style lights!

From the picture on the website I thought they were going to be a galvanized color, so I was surprised when I pulled them out of the box and they were black.  I went back and looked at the listing and sure enough, right there in bold print it did indeed say "Oil Rubbed Bronze." fault on that one, but I still like them very much.  (And as for the mold around the white square, we tried and tried to clean it and bleach it but to no avail.  Any suggestions?)

Having a new light at the front entry way inspired me to finally come up with something cute to make it look more welcoming.  It probably helps that I finally took down the Christmas lights, too.  : )

                          "Go away, we hate life."                                                           "C'mon in!  We're friendly 'round here!"

Lookin' cute for Valentine's Day!  The only item here that's not second-hand is the cup cake sign. Well, and the flowers, too, of course.

The perfectly good porch light from the side entrance got moved around to the back porch and the scale of it fits much better here.  (And yes, we still have snowflakes on our windows. Don't judge.)

The side entrance then received one of the new barn lights.  I don't really have a good before and after shot of this area because the landing is SO small you can't do anything with it.  But the new light is the first step in making my vision for this entrance a reality.

I have in mind something like this.


But that's another "someday" project that isn't a priority as of yet.

So that brings us to the final product that I ordered on my spending spree.

Another barn style light, but this one is a pendant style.  We don't have it installed yet because it's going in our next room waiting for a makeover.

The Depths of Despair laundry room.

I hope to get started on that room next week.

So, in conclusion, this experience was SO much fun and working with was a breeze and I want to say a big THANK YOU to them (and to Hawke Media) for giving me this opportunity!  They shipped my items quickly, even the ones that originally said they were back ordered still came much quicker than expected.  The products are good quality and were easy to install.  So, if you're looking for building products, or home renovation products, consider for your needs.

* Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post, I received free product in return for my opinion about the products, but all opinions and reviews are 100% my own. *


Friday, January 30, 2015

Picture Frame Christmas Wreath and More Knock-Off Decor

Hey everyone!  
Today I'm sharing the last bit of Christmas decor from this year.  I did some Pinterest inspired things that I wanted to share with you, as well as share a neat little photography trick that I used.

I had SO very much going on this season that by the time I was finally able to get around to actually decorating I was not feeling very creative or original at all.  I just wanted it up and done.  So I scoured my Christmas board on Pinterest to try and get my creative juices flowing.  I saw a few ideas there that got me moving.

This is the shelf that hangs above the couch in the living room.  I kept it fairly simple this year with a wooden star hanging above, a white ceramic Nativity, candles, antique wooden toys, greenery, and red berries.

The wooden star idea came from my Pinterest board.

 I already had a similar star that I got at a yard sale a couple of years ago as well as some extra large galvanized jingle bells. 
 (I found the picture on Pinterest, but couldn't find the original source.)

Here's my version.

I love these little wooden animal toys.  My mom bought them at an antique store 30 years ago and I love the touch of simple rustic-ness they bring.

This candle idea was another one from Pinterest. 
 It caught my eye because I knew I had similar rustic snowflakes.

I used the candles that were on the dining room buffet in the fall, and just turned them around so the key was in the back and hooked the snowflake to the twine that was already on the candle.  I set them both up on pieces of the Christmas tree trunk that Hubs had cut off.

I enjoyed the simple rustic look of it all very much.

The third idea I "knocked off" was this picture frame wreath.  
(Again, I couldn't find the original source.  The blog must not exist anymore.)  

As I was looking over the board I saw this pin and it struck me that, "Hey! I have the perfect frame for this!"  I had just decorated for our church Christmas banquet and had bought and spray painted a frame to use as a photo prop that I knew would be just right for this.  I dug out my box of garland from the shed and came up with my own version.

I added a string of white lights to it that gave off the most beautiful cozy glow above our new piano.  I also tucked in some bunches of faux berries here and there.

 I really loved how it turned out!

 This last picture has nothing to do with decorating, but it is a little DIY frugal photography trick I wanted to share with you.

Can you see the difference in the two pictures above?
The one on the left is darker and has harsh shadowing on the right side of the wreath since the light source was coming from the window on the left.  The picture on the right is brighter and the shadowing is greatly reduced.  Different exposure settings you say?  Nope.  Same exact settings.  Different times of the day?  No, both pictures were taken within 10 seconds of each other.  Fancy umbrella flash on a stand?  No flash was used in either of these pictures.  Good editing skills?  Wrong again.  

The answer is.....poster board.  Yep, just a 33¢ piece of white poster board.  As I was taking the pictures I noticed the harsh shadows being created and I realized I needed to reflect the light coming from the window back onto the wreath.  Sitting nearby was a poster board calendar I made for my kids awhile back so I used the plain back side of it.  Using a tripod I set the camera to the timer mode, pushed the button, then quickly positioned myself just to the right of the wreath holding the poster board so that it caught the incoming light and bounced it back onto the wreath.  Pretty neat trick, huh?  My aspiring photographer brother taught me that trick when we were just kids.

That does it for Christmas decor pictures for this year.  I had more decorated, but just did not feel inspired to take pictures of any more of it.  Hopefully I'll be a better blogger next year.  : )

In other news, all the free products I ordered have been delivered.  Yay!  Now, I have 2 weeks to get them up and blog about them.  Two items are part of current projects that will help finish them off, one item is going to be the starting point of our next room makeover project, and the other two items are much needed replacements but aren't necessarily a big makeover project.

So stay tuned for that post coming up in.....2 weeks!  :D 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Red and White Nordic Christmas Decor

Ok, so Christmas is long past by now...I know I know.  But by way of explanation for my tardiness on sharing my Christmas decor, here-in lies my excuse.  I wanted to focus on my family.  Plain and simple.  I had many responsibilities this year between church, home, and Etsy shop and I didn't want my family to "miss" me because was I too busy blogging in the down moments to actually enjoy the moments with them.  And I did enjoy my time with them, so very much.  I didn't even stop to take one single picture on Christmas day.  Can you believe that?  I just wanted to soak it all in instead of forcing everyone into cheesy smiles and frustration of stopping every 2 minutes to "capture the moment."  And for what?  So that the Facebook world could see how great of a day it was for us?  No thanks.  I just wanted to cherish each moment in my heart and be really present and focused on my favorite people.

So....that is why I never got around to sharing pictures of my decor.  

But now that things have slowly returned to normal around here (in all honesty though, my dining room tree is still up, so not completely normal yet) I have a bit more time to share.  I promised I would, even if it was late, so here goes.  :)

The below picture was a cell phone shot I shared on Facebook of the overall view of the dining room.  If you're just now joining us, we had two full size trees this year!  The family tree in the living room, and then "my" tree in the dining room.  I kept the whole dining room and kitchen a red and white Nordic style theme, and then the living room was a little more traditional with reds and greens.

You can read more about the red and white tree {here}.  

I really enjoyed having a tree in the dining room this year.  Will I do it again next year though?  Most likely not.  Simplicity is my goal for next Christmas.

I found the tablecloth at Home Goods this year and thought it fit in perfectly with a Nordic farmhouse style.

The centerpiece on the table was a cloth napkin layered underneath a vintage wire paper organizer, filled with fresh greenery clippings (though not so fresh anymore by the time I got around to taking pictures of it), and three adorable Nordic style reindeer bought a few years ago from Home Goods.

I found these adorable little snowflake plates at Oriental Trading of all places!  I was ordering some things for the kids' class I teach at church and happened upon these and loved them!  They're ceramic and sturdy and I so enjoyed using them this year.
(The plates can be found {here} if you're interested.)

I've had those knit stockings for years and I still love them just as much as I ever have, probably from Home Goods as well, lol!  The middle punched tin piece was bought at an antique store years ago and I love incorporating it into our Christmas decor each year.

On the top of the buffet I layered 3 place mats that were thrifted, and added in white distressed frames that I've had for years but rarely ever display for some reason.  The picture inside is of my daughter and her BFF cousin a couple of years ago.  It's a little too bright to see them well, but the jars had Espsom salts and a votive candle in them.  

This platter was also bought at Home Goods this year and I love it so much!  It was perfect in this room.  The red felt trees were a thrift store find from a couple of years ago.

And on this end of the buffet was another jar candle and picture frame, with a more grown up picture of the girls from last year.

The curtains that are always in here fit in perfectly, and in each window I placed some favorite things.

The kids helped me spray snowflakes onto the windows and it looked SO festive and cozy!  We used a stencil and a can of fake spray snow.  It was especially fun since we live in Florida and there's no hope of ever seeing real snow.  One window had my favorite carved-looking Father Christmas and the other window held a little ceramic tree lamp that was given to us by my husband's grandmother.  I've always loved it and this year it fit in perfectly with the red and white theme.

Up in the big arched window I replaced the aqua canning jars with my collection of Jim Shore Father Christmases.  I love these guys and their quilted looking garments and how they have the look of being hand carved.  My family has gifted these to me over the years and I love them.  This is the first time in years that I've actually had a place to display them and I was so happy to finally be able to unpack and display them.

(Affiliate Links)

I shared this cell phone picture of the kitchen on the Facebook page.  I think this lighted garland that I put together was my favorite bit of decor besides the trees.  It was beautiful and cozy and had a lot of impact on the room.  

The ribbon that was wrapped around it also had the red and white Nordic theme going on.

Well, that wraps up the decor for the dining room and living room for this year.  In my next post I'll share just a couple of things I did in the living room.  I didn't take pictures of everything, but there were a couple of things I did that I want to share.

Also, stay tuned for some fun upcoming posts!  I'm so excited to be doing my first partnership here on the blog and I had the opportunity to select some products to try from a building website in return for blogging about my experience. Some of the things I ordered should be here soon so I'll be sharing those in the next couple of weeks, 2 other things were backordered so it will be next month before I share those.  But it's a very exciting thing for me and it'll be fun to share!

Oh yeah, one last thing.  Be sure to stop by the Facebook page and check out a sneak peak "Before/After" picture of my current room project.  It's a dramatic difference already and I'm not even done yet!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Red and White Nordic Style Christmas Tree....{again}

Well, here I am.....finally sharing my Christmas tree....on New Year's Eve.  A little late I know, but technically I still had 5 more days to get it in since the 12 days of Christmas don't actually end until January 5th.  :)

Ok, so if you've been around this blog for awhile you might remember that last year I did a red and white Nordic style tree as well.  See that one {HERE}.  We had just moved into our new home and the tree was basically the only decor we had time to put up.  Well, this year was my husband's year for the tree, (if you're new-ish to the blog and don't know our tradition, one year I get to pick the tree decor and the next year Hubby picks and we alternate back and forth each year.)  so that meant the tree would have colored lights, lots of non-themed ornaments, and tons of tinsel.  And I'm ok with that, I really am.  His family teased me a lot this year that I got upset about it being his turn and demanded to have my own tree.  Not true.  I simply decided that we finally have a nice home that has the space for two full sized trees, so why not?  I certainly have enough ornaments for it.  Truth be told, I could outfit a 3rd full size tree with my vintage ornament collection, but I didn't think he'd be willing to go that far. :)  

 I LOVED the red and white tree last year and it made me a little sad to think of it all staying packed away and not on display.  So, I used some of my hard earned Etsy money and bought my own tree for the dining room.  His tree was displayed in front of the big front window in what we call the school room.

I added 4 new ornaments and a new strand of white garland to it this year, but otherwise it was all stuff I already had.

During the editing process I realized that maybe part of a strand of lights quit working there at the bottom of the tree.  It's not lit up as bright as it should have been.

After looking at last year's pictures I realized the tree needed better garland on it.  You couldn't really see the wooden cranberry garland in the pictures, and I think a tree doesn't look complete without garland.  Plus, it just needed more white on it.  I considered going old-fashioned and stringing real popcorn, I can remember doing that as a kid a time or two and I always enjoyed how it looked.  But I decided against it since we have a kitten in the house this year and I just didn't know if she would try to eat it and in so doing knock the whole tree down.

So instead, I bought these felted strands I found at Hobby Lobby.  The guy cashier looked at it funny when he scanned it and in a bewildered voice he asked, "What are you going to do with this?"  I don't think he even knew what it was, lol!  He looked like he thought I was nuts when I told him it was tree garland.  Hubby had the same "wow, you're really strange" reaction when I showed it to him, too.  He said, "What is it?  It looks like dreadlocks from Santa's beard."  That made me laugh out loud!  :D  Well, whatever it was it was perfect for this style of tree. 

The tree topper is a fuzzy snowflake that fits perfectly with this theme.  I can't remember where I bought it though.  I'm thinking it was Walmart last year, but I didn't see them there this year so I'm not 100% sure.

The trees skirt is actually a round vintage tablecloth I bought on Etsy.  I cut a slit in it and it works perfectly!

The tree doesn't consist of just "decorator" type of ornaments either.  There are plenty of meaningful ones on there too.  The top left "Let it Snow" is a favorite of mine and just this year I discovered it was a favorite of Hubby's too when he looked up there and said, "Hey, you stole that off of my tree!  I really like that one."  Huh, I never knew that.  :)  There's also a new felt star in the that one.  Top right has an "H" for my daughter, as well as an ice skate since I used to love my ice skating lessons as a child.  I also have a nice collection of Santas/Father Christmases that I've received over the years and you can see one there.  Bottom left has an "R" for Hubby.  Bottom right has a set of mittens found at Sears last year.  I love them!  There's also another word ornament.  I love word ornaments on a tree.  I think it adds a lot of interest to it.  I have had the wooden primitive style icicles for years and I still love them.

In the above collage you can see another one of my Santas, a set of the mittens in white, a Christmas tree made out of shells that my mom bought for my daughter to remember a fun shopping trip they had, a swirly lollipop ornament that my mom gave me 21 years ago, the red felt tree is a new one I added this year (found at Home Goods), and a cute set of red and white snowflakes found at Cracker Barrel last year.  There are plenty more ornaments on here, I just didn't capture them all.  You can probably see a few more of them in last year's post if you're interested.

I wanted to point out these white and red snowflakes to you though.  These were actually two sets of felt coasters that I bought on after Christmas clearance 2 years ago.  They make for perfect ornaments on a Nordic style tree! 

Another new one I added was "Mini-Lucy."  I named my beloved red KitchenAid Mixer "Lucy," so when I found this miniature sized one at Michael's I just had to have it.

I wanted to show you one other new one on the tree this year.  This is one I made.  My husband's grandmother passed away in August and we miss her so much.  She was truly a dear woman and absolutely one of a kind.  At her funeral they let us each pick a flower from the arrangement on her casket to keep.  I brought ours home and hung them upside down in a dark closet to dry.  Once completely dried out I simply clipped the stems off and put them inside of a large clear plastic ornament that you can pop open and then put back together.  So simple!  It's a beautiful reminder of her and we have loved having this one on the tree.  I know it will be on every tree from now on!

I have loved having two trees this year, and have really enjoyed my red and white Nordic inspired theme again.  I'm not sure if we'll have two trees again next year or not, I guess it will depend on what furniture has been added to the dining room by then.  : )

I hope you all had a wonderfully blessed Christmas and I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!

P.S.  If you haven't stopped by the Facebook page lately be sure to do so and check out me and Hubby's version of gingerbread "men."  Funny stuff!  :D

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