Sunday, December 25, 2011

Night Owl--Crafting Down to the Wire

A while back, I picked up this cute vintage owl coaster holder at an estate sale for a song with the intent of giving it to my daughter, the owl nut. It bears a label on the back, "Made in Japan." I'd guess from its style and the Japanese origins that it's from the '60s or '70s.

The coasters were the simple cork discs, probably not the original ones that accompanied the owl because they were imprinted with a promotional message. So, of course, I wanted to spruce them up.

Good thing these are easy to do, as I waited until the last minute to begin this Santa gift project. I chose six different patterns of card stock to cover the coasters. First, I traced around a coaster and cut out the circles just inside the tracing lines to ensure the circles wouldn't be larger than the cork discs.

Then, I applied a coat of Mod Podge to each coaster--over the promotional imprint. I attached each of the circles, burnishing with a folding bone to eliminate any air bubbles.  After letting them sit for 10 to 15 minutes, I applied the first of three coats of Mod Podge matte finish sealer to the paper coverings.

After wavering on whether I should paint the owl or leave him as is, I decided to leave him in his natural state. I liked the simplicity of the plain wood and the way the eyes stand out against the darker color, so I just cleaned him up.

These are so easy to make, you could create them for any occasion that calls for a small gift. You can purchase the pre-cut cork discs at almost any craft store and can cover them with the paper of your choice. Use your imagination to come up with a stand or holder for your coasters:  a vintage tin, a glass bowl or box, a small metal tray.

Quick, fun and easy.

Make it a great day!
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Faux Mess--Maury to the Rescue

Am I the only person who didn't know not to wash faux mercury glass? And, I don't mean put it in the dishwasher. I mean wash it by hand in dish detergent.

Trying to put a super sparkle on my store-bought mercury glass votives recently sent me into a panic and made my husband feel really bad. I set all my pieces out to clean them up and he offered to wash them for me. An offer I gladly accepted because he's nothing if not thorough. When he was nearly done washing all of them, he realized there were chunks of silver floating among the detergent bubbles. Pretty to look at, but not good.

As you can see, not all of the faux mercury washed away--just the majority of it. I quickly regained enough composure to turn my focus from what could have been a total loss to what I hoped would be a solution.

I remembered Maury at Life on Mars had shared a tutorial on creating your own faux mercury glass. I had always intended to try it--on a piece of my choosing, not on a reclamation project. But, what the heck, this could save me from my own stupidity.

Maury's tutorial is excellent. I wrapped the outsides of my votive glasses in wide masking tape and sprayed and spritzed away.

I gave each glass two light coats of Krylon Looking Glass paint, which, when combined with the scraps of mercury that remained on each one, created a nice layered look. Once the glass votives were incorporated into the rest of the holiday decor and the tea lights lit, no one would be the wiser.

Uh . . . except that I just confessed to the world.

Make it a great day!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thank you. And Call Me Crazy.

First things first: A great big thank you! Thank you for following along--for basking in moonbeams and chasing fireflies with me. 

100 followers! When I started blogging less than six months ago and my children and a couple of friends started following, 100 followers seemed as far away as the Man in the Moon. 

In fact, I didn't really think about followers--until I realized how much fun it was to have online friends who had something in common with me. I truly appreciate every one of you.

To mark this exciting milestone, I want to give a special shout-out to Annette from Chasing Lightning Bugs, my 100th follower. Is that coincidence or what?  Another firefly lover!

Annette is a talented artist whose handmade quilts, journal covers and fine art collages blend nostalgia with a wonderfully fresh flair. I hope you'll visit her site and check out her beautiful works of art.

I haven't ventured into the giveaway arena, yet, but want to host a giveaway to honor my wonderful followers. With the holidays upon us, though, another giveaway might get lost in the hustle and bustle of the next few weeks. 

So . . . stay tuned for a fun giveaway in January when lives settle down a bit and we're ready for a diversion from the winter doldrums.

BTW, as a giveaway novice, I'm hoping some of you might have some tips for me on how to host a fun and successful event. If you have experiences to share, comment below. I welcome your input.


You might think I'm nuts, but I'm already thinking ahead to January, when all the Christmas glitz and glam has been returned the storage tubs and stowed out of sight in the attic.

In that bitter cold, uneventful stretch between holiday gatherings with family and friends and the first turn of soil in the garden in the spring, I plan to tackle refinishing and repurposing this wonderful piece I purchased at a thrift store this past summer.

This is a vintage mail cabinet from an old hotel. Nothing fancy, but unusual as far as what you'd normally find in a thrift store. In fact, there were two identical pieces available. I bought both. The second one is now serving as extra counter space and a divider between the kitchen and living room of my son's studio apartment.

These nice pieces originally were marked $49.99 each, but had been marked down to $19.99 each. Can you believe I got both for $40? I think that's a bargain.

Watch for the transformation (and a giveaway) in the weeks to come.

Make it a great day!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Snow, Baby

My favorite of our Christmas trees is the one we place on the window seat in the dining room bay window. I call it the Snowbaby tree. It's special to me.

Years ago, when the kids were little, they gave me my first Snowbaby ornament for my birthday (yes, I have a birthday next week--a milestone number). I started decorating this tree with Snowbabies then and have continued the theme over the years, adding a few new touches each year.

I'm a white-lights fan. It's not that I don't like colored lights (our living room tree has colored lights), but I've always preferred white--the perfect light for setting sweet little Snowbabies aglow.

I have lavished a multitude of crystal ornaments, white beaded garland, and silvery sticky/twiggy thingies (descriptive, but clearly not the official name of those  widely varied decorations) on this pretty tree.

It's interesting how different everything looks in the natural light of day. Whether by day or by night, it's equally pretty, I think.

We selected this pretty tree years ago. It was pre-lit, which was a prerequisite then. It just saved so much time when my attention was divided between preparing the house for Christmas and all the activities that come with having young children at home (little did I know the nightmare it would be to change the lights when they finally gave up the ghost). But, what really sold me on this tree was the unusual "ice" on the branches, a feature that made it sparkle even without decorations.

Ha! That's my reflection in this Waterford snow ornament.

To add a bit of color to our sparkly white scene, I use a vintage handmade felt tree skirt I found at an estate sale a few years ago. It was one of three beauties I bought at that same sale--the only one small enough for this space. I'll share the others with you another day.

It's Christmas time. Snow, baby, snow.

Make it a great day!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vintage Sled Rises to Occasion

Earlier this summer I came across this fabulous vintage wooden box at an estate sale. It's from the Swift company and was used to transport ham and bacon. I can't imagine how one could possibly have handled this box when it was loaded with meat, as it's incredibly heavy empty.

Did I mention I paid $18 for it? My husband thought that was too much to pay--until I found a vintage wooden Schlitz beer box about two-thirds the size of this one at a local pickers' sale for a mere $225! No, there's not a decimal point in that number. Yikes!

My Swift box has such wonderful character:  worn paint, rusted hinges and latch, dings and chips. The color seemed perfect for Christmas, so I incorporated it into my porch decorations.

We have a small covered porch that I decorate with the Yankee Clipper sled my husband had  when he was a kid, a pair of antique ice skates and some greenery. This year, I used my sweet new box as a riser and added a metal pitcher I picked up at a summer garage sale.

The elevation makes the sled more visible and gives the arrangement more heft.

Most years, I use artificial greenery to save money. But, that was before the first Trader Joe's in our city  moved in within walking distance of our house. At TJ's, I got the wreath for the top of the sled and the garland  for the box for $13. They were so pretty, I thought they were worth the splurge.

'Tis the season to experiment and I'm liking the looks of this.

Make it a great day!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

So, What's on Your Mantel for the Holidays?

At Christmas, I decorate each room with a different theme.

For example, the dining room is the Snowbabies room.

The living room is Santa Claus themed.

The family room is where all the wacky snowmen frolic, atop a lighted fireplace mantel and surrounded by bottle brush trees and vintage ornaments.

I love how our lightbox-style mantel creates a soft glow about everything we display on  it, but the light certainly makes it difficult to photograph. Believe me, it looks much better in person.

The lighting underneath makes the little snowmen glow so nicely.

And, because I'm linking up toThe Mantel Link Party at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, my husband insisted I also include a most famous mantle in my post. The Mick's appearance here was short-lived, however.

Make it a great day!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Muncha Buncha Pumpkins

After Thanksgiving, when the cold sets in and the neighbors abandon their pumpkins for Christmas wreaths, I always feel a little melancholy when I drive down the street on trash day and see all the discarded pumpkins in the yard waste cans.

I'm lucky, though. Living on an acre lot, I have a large garden area across the back of the property that ends at the edge of a steep ravine. When it's time to bring out the holiday trimmings, our pumpkins, gourds and squash find a new home in the then-barren garden and return to nature by becoming a smorgasbord for deer, squirrels, raccoon and woodchuck.

In the relatively short time before they're devoured or shoved into the ravine by an over-zealous deer or raccoon, they add much-needed color to the spent garden.

The dusting of snow makes them look like sugary treats.

My husband and I make a habit of checking out the autumn leftovers every day. The deer shove them around the garden as they munch on them. The squirrels sit on top of them and dig out the insides. Occasionally, we see a critter nudge its meal a bit too hard and it rolls off the edge of the ravine and down into the creek.

Sometimes the seeds that are left behind sprout volunteer plants in the spring--plants the deer generally eat before they mature into produce-bearing vines.

Every year, I look forward to giving our autumn bounty a resting place in the garden. It just seems so harmonious.

 Here's a view of the garden about five hours after I took the pumpkin photos.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanks for Adding the Pizzazz

Recently, I posted about my dining room buffet display created from estate sale bottle brush trees and bargain glassware I had picked up at thrift stores.

Many of your were kind enough to give me suggestions to enhance this collection. Thank you for taking the time to help me out. You provided lots of excellent feedback. I played around with the display, taking into consideration your wonderful suggestions, until I found something I really liked.

I added acrylic ice and clear gemstones I already had, vintage ornaments that my husband's mother gave us and put it all on a vintage white damask tablecloth that I picked up at an estate sale years ago.

It's not dramatically different. But, I believe the enhancements make it more cohesive and give it more punch. What do you think?

Make it a great day!