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Spring is such a wonderful time of the year.  The flowers are a bloomin, the birds are chirping and the stores are all full of lots of fun items that we can craft with. I spotted these cute wooden gift bags at Michael's the other day and was immediately smitten!

Spring is also the time for gift giving to friends.

And while we are on the subject of gifts,  Mother's Day is almost here.  

Today I'm sharing my idea for gift giving with pretty wooden gift bags. 

Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.


What I Used:


​I wanted to give these bags as gifts to a few special friends and so I bought these wood letters for their initials along with the wooden bags. 
The How To:
This was such an easy project, it took just about an hour to do it. I first painted the wooden bags using chalky finish paint.  I prefer it because it dries super fast. In fact I had done about three coats in under half an hour. 

I also painted the lettering using acrylic paint in colors that I knew my friends would like. (And just in case my kids are reading this... your mother likes all things blue).

I added cream wax to the wooden bags to seal in the chalky finish paint. 

The final step was to glue on the lettering. 

And of course add some pretty ribbons!

Now let's remember these are gift bags!  So gifts were placed inside the bags.

​In fact they would make great gifts for Mom!  As if I haven't stressed that enough. 
I added  these sweet smelling soaps  that are made with all natural ingredients.  I bought from this etsy shop called Mad's Soaps.  I highly recommend them! She also has triple body butter lotions that are amazing!  ( I actually purchased these on my own, so you know I really like them if I'm recommending them to you.) ​  

​The addition of these pretty springtime bouquets of faux flowers also adds a happy note. And once the soap or lotion gifts have been removed the wooden bag and flowers can stand alone as decor. 
Not only was I able to gift the soaps to my friends but more importantly they will not have bags to throw away.  Instead they get to keep the wooden gift bags as decor and for future use.  Now that is a win-win in my book and Mother Nature is looking down at my right now with a smile on her face. I deserve one of these for Mother's Day just for being so eco friendly! "wink"  Don't you?

I hope you will consider gift giving with these pretty wooden gift bags. And drop by Mad's Soaps Etsy shop and let's support our independent creatives!
​If you really like what you see subscribe to my blog and get my adventures in your mailbox. The form is on the sidebar and on top.  To see my privacy policy click here.
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This blog is for entertainment purposes only; my DIY tutorials are not professional advice. Read my full disclaimer here.

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Sometimes good things come to those when they least expect it.  I had been wanting to make a wall art decoration piece for ages but had never found anything that was right.  Until the day I parked somewhere to wait for my dad and lo and behold...this!

I'm going to share how I made shutter art with a stencil the wrong way so that you can do it the right way!
​Disclosure: I was compensated for doing this post with product.  However, all the opinions stated here are my own. I only use products I love and would recommend to my viewers. 
​​​​​

But first the back story.  One day I drove my dad to the hospital to visit someone and I had to park the car a few blocks away because this is New York. 

​Imagine my luck when while sitting there a man walked up to the curb and put this beauty outside. I couldn't believe my eyes.  I waited patiently till he was a few blocks away because you never know, he might of changed his mind and come back for it, and then I jumped out of the car and grabbed this shutter.  I had to literally jam it into the back of the car because it was pretty big.  But you know where there's a will there will be a way. 
Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.


What I Used:
The How to:
The project started out simple enough.  After thoroughly wiping down the shutter, I painted it with the chalky finish paint.  This is a favorite and is my go to chalky type paint. 
Two coats did the trick and all it took was about half an hour.  The paint dries really fast but those slats took a while to paint. 

The inspiration for this project came about because of this vintage TV cabinet in my living room.  You can see that it has this beautiful detailing on it.  I would be placing the shutter on a wall opposite   this wall and I wanted to carry over that theme of the swirls. 

I had originally ordered a Fleur di Lis but then decided against it and instead found this stencil at Michael's that more closely resembled the look I was going for. Here is a similar one.


​Now I had done stenciling before so I felt confident that I would be able to knock this one out in a matter of minutes.  After all it was simpler than the Fleur De Lis I had nixed. Haha!  

A lesson I have yet to learn is that one should never be overconfident in their skills. EVER!  Case in point, this project which defeated me because I was too smug for my own good!

I had intended to use my pounce sponger.  It had worked before for this project so I was sure it would work now. Besides everyone raved about it. How it was the best for stenciling. So it would be a breeze with this project.  Or so I thought!

I set up my things, including a plastic dish with a paper towel to dab off the excess paint. 
The paint I used was a soft metallic in silver.  I wanted the shutter to stand out and the stencil design to be secondary that is why I  chose this color.  You'll see why later on. 

​I started out by taping the stencil along one end of the shutter and then pressed it down to paint.  I used masking tape to keep it in place.
But, as you may have guessed things did not work out as I had planned!  Again!!  

I had absolutely neglected to take into account the slats of the shutter. How was this even possible. 

​They were right there, staring at me!  Laughing at me even!

The stencil did not lay flat on the surface and the paint went on super thick even though I had dabbed most of it off. 
I tried again, this time using much thinner brushes that would let me control the paint, or at least that's what I thought!



​Here is the next attempt.  It looks better right?
Yes, except for the fact that it does not get all of the design on the slat. Another fail!

I realized that I had to insert the stencil inside the slat in order to get the design to lay flat on each slat. 

At this point I could feel the steam coming out of my ears in frustration! 

What was meant to be a 10 minute project was obviously going to take me much, much longer. 
In order to make sure the stencil stayed put, I pressed on it with my fingers or even used an extra brush to hold it in place. 

Finally after much frustration I had done the center.  You can see here how subtle the paint is.

​But it looked unfinished.  
Yes, because it had not taken me long enough to stencil the individual slats down the center of the shutter (insert sarcasm here), I went back and cut off pieces of swirl patterns and stenciled them all along the two sides of the original design. 

To give the overall look more balance and less sparsity. And of course to add another half an hour to my ten minute project!
I finished it off with a top coat of creme wax.  And to hang it up I used a bunch of command strips
And finally!

Finally, on what was to be a ten minute stenciling project, I was done!

Was it worth it?  I could have gone out and just bought some type of artwork, hung it on the wall and called it a day!

But, no!

I needed to make my life difficult by doing all these DIY projects. 

There is no joy in shopping when you can waste hours of your life DIYing!  Am I right?

Have you ever seen that meme on Facebook about how we spend $90 making a project that we could have bought for $10.  Well, that was me but replace the money for time. 

Plus, I needed something horizontal to go behind the sofa.  
Below you can see how I used them with my Easter decor.  I got the inspiration from Lisa of The Purple Hydragnea.  It's such an easy way to add any decor to them. 


​Now to explain my reasoning for this particular look.  I wanted something that had presence but not too much.  After all we still have that accent wall on the opposite side of the room. Too much on this wall would have been overpowering.  

I needed to fill this wall but in a subtle kind of way.  Are you following me?
In fact, if you look at this shutter from one end facing the windows, the design shimmers and almost disappears because of the metallic finish.  Like I said, real subtle. 

I think of the slats as doing the real work, and the swirls are a bonus. 

All kidding aside, I really love my shutter art decor.  It is a focal point, but not in an in-your-face kind of way. 

And what have I learned from this episode of how to make things harder than they need to be?

Pouncers are to be feared?  Absolutely not.  They have their place but not on shutters!

Ultimately, I have learned that I don't always learn from my previous mistakes and I need to make them more than once in order to feel the red on my cheeks. 

​Or is three times the (un)lucky number?  In that case I have one more mistake to make! 
In the end I got exactly what I wanted/deserved and then some!

This tutorial on how to make shutter art the wrong way took a long time (much longer than it should have) but I'm happy with my art.  In fact I couldn't find another like this anywhere and believe me I scoured Pinterest for inspiration!

​How many times do you need to make a mistake before you learn a lesson?
​If you really like what you see subscribe to my blog and get my adventures in your mailbox. The form is on the sidebar and on top.  To see my privacy policy click here.
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I love it when I get your comments and I will try to reply to every one of them. ​Please do not add a hyperlink to your comment, otherwise it cannot be published.
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It's been a while since my last photo essay, and I am here to rectify that right now!  

This collection of photos is really random.  Just shots I had taken throughout the course of the year that I really liked and want to share with you. The one thing that unifies them is that the point of view is always looking up at the buildings in Manhattan.  And because this is Manhattan, they also happen to be luxurious and by extension expensive. 

Let's start off with a panoramic view from Central Park facing 59th Street, or the south border of the park.  That art deco building with the gold crown is the Trump Parc Condominium formerly known as the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel. 

The tall structure to the right of it is One 57 a super-tall residential building second only to 432 Park Avenue. One duplex sold for $100 million to give you an idea of the neighborhood. 

The building under construction is Nordstrom Tower which is also supertall and super expensive.  Are we seeing a pattern here?  Me, I just like to enjoy the view!
The photo above is the top of the very famous Plaza Hotel.  You've all seen the entrance because it was featured in countless movies.  But I bet you never saw the elaborate roof, which looks like it belongs in a fairy tale!​
And while we're on the subject of tops, here is one I took from Central Park.  Fifth Avenue is located on the east side of the park and is lined with these types of buildings.  This one is The Pierre Hotel on 61st Street.  And the other one that is box shaped behind it, is actually 4 blocks away but it is so tall - 2nd tallest to be exact -  it looms over everything else. 432 Park Avenue is a condominium for millionaires. ​
There it is in all its stark beauty - sticking out like a sore thumb!  

The building was completed in 2014 and the condominiums have since been sold to mostly wealthy owners who buy residences for monetary gain.  The majority of residences will remain unoccupied for more than 10 months out of the year. 

This speaks volumes about the situation in Manhattan where we have these ultra expensive residences and then we have the subsidizing for the poor.  If only there were some sort of middle ground, housing for average folks like us. Why have all these residences if no one is going to live in them?
This beauty is located on Fifth Avenue also but much further down in Manhattan, on 19th Street of the Flatiron District.  The Mansard roof is surely one of a kind.  And let's not neglect that ornate facade. The building spans the length of 19th Street and is home to ABC Carpets on the Broadway side. 
Across the street is this gem at 119 Fifth Avenue. Ornate architecture and lots to see way up on top!
The rooftop of 160 Eighth Avenue, also a condominium building located in Chelsea area of Manhattan is also worth looking up at. 

The pyramid-like tops of these buildings belong to Zeckendorf Towers, a complex of four towers that house a medical center along with condos on the famed Union Square Park, on 14th Street, among other things. The rooftop on the seventh floor is the largest residential green roof in the city with 14,000 square feet of space.  
These two buildings are right across from the Zeckendorf Towers with Union Square Park in the center.  The shorter one, the Decker Building is a masterpiece of intricate design, as if someone placed a lace doily over the building, with Islamic and Venetian influences. At one point it was the site of Andy Warhol's Factory Studio.

The taller building was originally built in 1903 as the Bank of the Metropolis.  It has been converted into luxury lofts. 
This one which makes you dizzy, when you look up is the facade of the New School. If you stand too close like I did, it looks as if it is about to crumble on you.  Like watching one of those action hero movies. 
I should have gone across the street to photograph it but it was so crowded that day I didn't want to brave crossing the street.  You can see how it actually looks here.  I kinda prefer this scary view from right below.  More dramatic don't you think?
This shot was taken on 56th Street and Broadway.  Nothing very special about it except that it will give you an idea of how various buildings are piled/stacked on each other. That and the great light shadow look that I so love. 

The building on the left was originally General Motor's 10 story headquarters. 
This lovely belle is a classic Cass Gilbert structure - he of the Woolworth Building fame - right across the street from Carnegie Hall.  Lots of activity up there and just two short blocks away from Central Park with all the super skyscrapers. 
This behemoth is across the street from la belle,  and looks like a fortress in comparison.  All massive heavy brownstone brick like. The Osborne Apartments are a city landmark and with a lobby like this it is easy to see why. 
And finally we come to my all time favorite.  The one that made my jaw drop to the floor when I turned the corner and spotted it.  Never, ever have I see so much plaster, er, sculpture on a building.  It was as if the cake decorator was let loose. 

The Alwyn Court Apartments was built around 1907.  It is covered in Francis I style terracotta ornamentation and is a New York Landmark (of course) in the French Renaissance style. Louis XVI could have come up with this one himself. 
And that was my straining-your-neck, humorous look at all things that make you look up in Manhattan. As you can see, there is quite a variety of buildings and each architect has his own ideas as to what should be on top of a building or even on its facade. 

​Do you have a favorite?


Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.


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You can never have enough mirrors, right?  That's exactly what I thought when I spotted this on the curb last fall.  Today I am sharing how to makeover a curbside mirror find the lazy way.  
I thought I could paint it grey or silver and give it to my son. The one who so very kindly  found another old mirror and bought it home to me. But when I asked him he said he already had a mirror and no room.  But I kept it around with no idea what to do with it, even though I had no takers.   I was so indecisive about what to do I just kept on shuffling it around from room to room.  

And then one day while I was in the bedroom I looked at my mirror and realized just how small it was.  Oh it was very pretty since the makeover, but it really was not all that great for mirroring!  Is that a new verb? That was when I came to the decision to remake the mirror for me!  After all do I not deserve to have a mirror that does a proper job of mirroring?
​Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.
What I Used:

The How To:

I started off by painting it with chalky finish paint.  You can use any paint that you like best.  I used this one.  I never make mistakes with chalky paint.  It is very forgiving! Well, even if I do make mistakes it is still forgiving!  

I made the mistake of using a sponge brush which left all these really awful streaks on the wood. Actually, if you want streaks then this is the way to go, but I prefer a more uniform look. 
For the second coat I switched to a bristle brush which had a much nicer look.  Learn from my mistakes!  Once it is dry you can always sand back any excess paint. 

You can see what a sloppy painter I am by the fact that I didn't use masking tape on the edges to protect the mirror. I honestly feel that it is a waste of time.  You can easily remove the paint with a razor or in my case a spatula. Lazy I tell you!  I grab the first thing I see in front of me!


​While painting the wood, some of the chalky finish paint went on the metal piece so I just left it.  I then went over the metal using a metallic gold acrylic multi surface color that I had gotten at Michael's Craft Store - did I mention it is my favorite store?  The color is so rich, it honestly looks like brass to me. 
Below you can see what it looked like after a light coat of the gold paint on top of the white chalky paint.  You can add as many layers as you want to get a deeper color. 



​These little wood embellishments were also painted and sanded over to give them a distressed look, as was the rest of the mirror. 

At this point, I figured,  I would try to match the mirror with the dresser already in the bedroom.  Not a perfect match because the styles are different but something to make them friends. 
I went back with the gold paint and lightly added some color to the embellishments.

The final step was to add wax to all the white paint to seal in all that chalky finish paint goodness.  You can use one of these fancy brushes to add the wax, but as I was feeling super lazy, I used a clean white cloth.


​And my mirror was done!  It had just the right amount of color and white softness that I so love!

And the best part?  It looks great on top of that old dresser of mine!

​I may have dragged this old curbside find home with me last fall and let it sit for a spell, but it was worth the wait.  I now have a mirror which actually does its job of mirroring.  It has way loads more character, and it looks perfect above the farmhouse vintage dresser. 

That is how you makeover a curbside find the lazy way, because let's face it we have more important things to do. Even if I procrastinate a bit. "wink"

Do you think it was a good idea for me to replace the old oval mirror with this one?
If you really like what you see subscribe to my blog and get my adventures in your mailbox. The form is on the sidebar and on top.  To see my privacy policy click here.
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In an attempt to get my life in order I have been organizing everything in sight. One particular eye sore has been the dining room which over time had collected all sorts of things that didn't belong anywhere else.  Like bags of dog food and lots of cans.  Below you can see the last of them but tomorrow there will be 24 more cans there. 

It was really cluttering up the room and making it look very unfinished. I'm going to share how I easily organized the dog food with a bucket, and in plain sight no less!

Disclosure: I was compensated for doing this post with product.  However, all the opinions stated here are my own. I only use products I love and would recommend to my viewers. 
​​​​

And now I hear you saying why not put these things in the pantry or in a cabinet in the kitchen?  Have I ever mentioned just how tiny my kitchen is?  When I stand in the middle with  my arms extended I can touch either side of the cabinets. Both ways!  And with a big family to feed, you know each and every inch of that storage space is valuable.  So it was not going to be wasted on dog food, as much as I love my pupster!

I had seen this idea by Inspiration Made Simple on the internet and wanted to copy it. I went to Home Depot looking for that bucket but no luck!  What they had available was either too big or too small.

Yes, I could have gone to another store to look for that perfect bucket but I was in a hurry!  I was a woman with a mission. I had to get the house in order fast, because we were expecting company the next day!  Do you ever get motivated to do serious tidying up when you are expecting company? And then realize it is all too much?

Instead I found this alternative.  It was a plastic bucket that closed really well in a 10 gallon size.

​Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.
What I Used:

The How To:

I grabbed my favorite paint and started painting it!  After half an hour I went to paint on a second coat but the paint started peeling off.  Gasp!!  What was this?  What did I do wrong? 

Mortified, I reached out to my favorite paint group on Facebook and was told that plastic is really hard to paint over.  Why didn't I know this?  I'm supposed to be a seasoned DIYer by now, right?  I may have needed to sand the offending plastic first to get a better grip for the paint or even used a bonding medium such as this one if you have already added the paint.  But the best suggestion was to start off with the right paint.  They recommendedMulti surface satin acrylic paint which is good for hard plastics. 

Now I didn't have the time to do any of this so I just waited an hour between coats and that really helped.  No more peeling.  I guess my favorite trusty paint just needed time to cure. 

I painted the bottom white and the lid black.  Two coats with touch ups did the trick. 


​And then I wanted to add a little something else so I used this stencil that Stencil Revolution was kind enough to supply me with. 
Not wanting to make any more mistakes, I found this multi-surface paint in my stash and used it to paint the paw stencil. 


​That pounce sponge is really the best for stenciling. 
​One paw on each side of the bucket so that everyone would know what was inside that bucket!


​And my bucket was finished.  So much better than having the dog food out in the open like before. 

Stencil Revolution has lots of different designs even for cat lovers!
And while we're on the subject of tidying up, I took that opportunity to also add a little bit of fabric to a rolling cart I had which looked way too cluttered for my taste. 



​A bit of burlap on the top finishes it off.  It actually took me five minutes to do this.  The bottom hemming was already there, I just folded the fabric lengthwise and stapled it onto the cart.  I then glued the burlap on the top of the staples. I've also done this in the past but fancier, here


​If you are a dog lover like me and you'd like to see more Dog Hacks, Andrea of The Cottage Market has got a ton of  them! 

​In hindsight, I should have waited to find a metal bucket but like I said before, I was really pressed for time. This is how I easily organized the pet food with a bucket.  And I think it looks pretty awesome too!

​Where do you keep your pet food?

​If you really like what you see subscribe to my blog and get my adventures in your mailbox. The form is on the sidebar and on top.  To see my privacy policy click here.
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Today is my four year blog anniversary, or as I like to call it blogoversary!  I can hardly believe that it's been four years since I started this little blog of mine.

To celebrate,  instead of sharing a DIY project with you all I thought I'd take a look back at this past year and share a bit about my journey. Four years and an important lesson learned the hard way! 
The year started off with with a winter wonderland in our neck of the woods.  It was truly magical!  There was also a walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge!  One for the bucket list!

And I promptly made myself a throw using an old velour blanket to keep warm.  Sadly the blanket was so old it fell apart.  It was an epic fail, and I am nothing if not honest with you folks.  Make sure you have a blanket that is not threadbare.  The concept was a good one but those fringes did not survive for very long. 

The winter came and went and once spring was here it was time to literally spring into action.  As many of you know we had moved from Greece to New York, late summer of 2017 and were still getting organized.  There were rooms to paint, decorate and organize!

The first one I shared was the girls' bedroom. We had a blast painting it and decorating too!  But most importantly the girls had final say in what went into the room. 

Sine the blog is primarily about DIY projects I always try to show them in the context of my home and how you too can come up with creative solutions to use what you already have. 

​A year later, it still looks pretty much the same but the bookcases are full of stuff, as to be expected.  And there are a lot more candles in the room since one of my girls has taken up candle making. 

We had a 70's TV cabinet in the foyer,  which was used for storage since there was no longer a TV.  I had been itching to start on that project, mainly because I saw so much potential in that old thing.  It really took blood, sweat, and tears to get it done (well maybe not the blood part).  But in the end, it was everything I had imagined and more. 

To this day, I still sit on the couch facing it and marvel at its beauty.  And also what a waste it had been sitting in the foyer collecting dust all those years. 
​​
While working on this project we also adopted a puppy.  Little Tatou came into our lives and bought so much joy to this house.  I honestly never thought a pet could change our lives in such a dramatic way.  We had dogs before in Greece, but never at home, only at the farm. Huge difference in our lives. 

And we so needed it because things were difficult.  It was hard adjusting to life here after living in Greece.  In New York, people are so busy with their work and my girls had to get used to the fast paced rhythm of the city and so many cultural changes. Tatou really helped to ease the transition.

And to make things worst, over the summer I found out I had diabetes.  I was told my Blood Glucose Level was an 11. If you know anything about this then you know I was a walking time-bomb!

I can lie and say that this came as a shock but in all honesty, I had been abusing my body for years.  Overdosing on sweets and lack of exercise was not the way to stay healthy.  One of my girls loves to bake and well, as you can guess, I'm not one to resist a chocolate chip cookie, or five! And her cheesecakes are irresistible!

I ignored the signs.  I was constantly tired and sluggish.  I was always hungry which made no sense at all because I was eating all day long.  And sitting in front of the computer certainly didn't help matters at all.  

I went into the doctor's office for a referral and instead came out with a huge headache and enough prescriptions to make it a full time job.  Saying I was depressed about this was an understatement.  But I knew I, and no one else, was to blame.  I should have known better. But I just kept on sweeping my bad health habits under the rug. Not even a trip to the Botanical Gardens helped me to feel better!

Imagine walking around with a grenade inside you and not knowing about it, or even worse, keeping your head in the sand out of stupidity.  That was me!!  That trip to the doctor's office was a wake up call of the upmost urgency!  
I knew I had to tackle this thing and so it became my priority.  I stopped eating sweets cold turkey and paid attention to all those labels on the packages.  I even went to see a Diabetics Educator.  I kept close track of my insulin intake and my blood sugar levels. 

​And I started walking everywhere, with my pupster and without. Like I said, this had become my full time job.  That's why I wasn't working on new projects over the summer but instead sharing some oldies but goodies

I had made a mood board for the master bedroom which is actually tiny.  It serves as bedroom, craft room and office.  But it was really hard for me to work on this room when I had all these other things on my mind.

I kept on dragging on the color selections. But I figured once the room is done I will be better able to organize my life.

​And that's exactly what happened.  I found a spot for all my medicine and put myself on a schedule. Discipline was the key here!

Funny thing is, the more organized I became, the better I was able to stay disciplined and my blood glucose levels dropped dramatically.  The pounds just started melting away and I was not dieting.  I had just cut out the sugar and was watching my carbs. I was diligent about it!  That's it!

Ha!  I say "that's it" like it was a small thing, but in fact it was life changing!  

I now had tons of energy because I didn't have to worry about that sugar high and low. So much so, that instead of finishing the bedroom, I tackled another project!

In a two day period I painted the kitchen (ok it is the size of your closet, but still), the dining room, the entryway and the living room.  For the living room I went all out and did a cloudy effect accent wall that has me swooning to this day!

No way would I have tried anything like this in my previous state!  But now, I had so much energy I didn't know what to do with it.  And mind you, I'm no spring chicken. 
With all this energy and great news from the doctor's office, I was finally able to finish the bedroom! My head was clear and I knew exactly what I wanted!

And for Christmas I got the best gift ever!  My blood glucose numbers were so low I was taken off the insulin!  High Five here!!  I had gotten my health back in so many ways and luckily for me in such a short time. We even took a long walk to Rockefeller Center to see the Tree in freezing weather. 
The start of the year had me off and running with lots of ideas and new projects on board.  I need to finish the living room.  But that will take some time since I plan on buying a new sofa.  All the rest was repurposed or upcycled by me. 

​And the dining room needs a bit more work too.  Maybe I'll get my girl to help me with some artwork. 

But no matter what projects I am working on I never, ever slack off on my health.  I was given this gift of good health and I am not about to throw it away or take it for granted like I had before. 
Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.


The bottom line is, all these projects would not have ever gotten done if I hadn't gone to the doctor one summer day to get a referral for something else entirely.  

As mothers, most of us are stuck in a sandwich situation.  We have children to look out for and on the other end, we also have elderly parents to take care of.  Too often we get so caught up in taking care of everyone else we neglect ourselves to the point where we can no longer function. That is exactly what happened to me.  I was no good to anyone at that point. 

I am so grateful to my family for rallying around me and helping me to get on board with my new lifestyle.  They are all so good about this, they have all started eating healthier along with me. And once the weather warms up a bit there will be plenty of walks with Tatou!

I hope that you can all learn from my hard earned mistake and go to the doctor and get your checkups every year. Moms are truly the backbone of the family and if we are not well then nothing works properly. Am I right?

I honestly have no idea how long I had the diabetes, maybe since my time in Greece where there is a pastry shop on every corner? Maybe it hit me later. I fooled myself into thinking it was the Greek heat that made me feel sluggish all the time but then I never questioned why I felt this way in winter too. 

All I know is that I feel half my age or at least half of what I felt like before. Maybe before I felt like an 80 year old and now I feel my age?  Either way I have loads of energy and then some. 

And I am not special or Hercules.  Like I mentioned before all I did was to cut out my sugar intake, watch my carbs and try to eat lots of fruits and veggies.  And for exercise I would walk where ever possible.  Even the shopping mall counts here! 

I have been given a second chance at life.  This is a miracle for me! My doctor jokes that I should be the poster child for diabetes!   At my age I should be winding down and yet I am going in the opposite direction!  I have lots of plans and a new road to follow for the future. 


​I'll say it again!  We all need to take care of ourselves.  If you are feeling tired or sluggish go for a checkup, have your blood glucose levels checked.  Take care of yourself because no one will do it for you!!

It has been such a roller coaster year for me but I needed to hit rock bottom!  It was a wake up call that really got me on the right path to wellness. I hope my hard earned lesson will also help to motivate you in your wellness journey!  I am celebrating my four years on the blog with a clean bill of health, how about you?
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Spring may not be right around the corner but after such a harrowing winter I think we could use a little pick me up!

Today I'm sharing 35 Easy Spring Ideas to Inspire you, so we can all get through the rest of the winter and look forward to the sunshine!
For the Table:

Those pretty pastels have got Spring all over them!  Here is a fun way to decorate the table for Easter and spring in general by Toni of Girl, just DIY!
 
This beautiful spring garden centerpiece is perfect for indoors or out.  Go see it over at Linda's blog, Mixed Kreations

To get this fun look, I repurposed some cordial glasses and now use them to create various spring centerpieces. 
Wouldn't these cloches look perfect on your table?  The easy and affordable how to is by Marie of The Interior Frugalista!

This is a happy tablescape that can put a smile on anyone's face.  Drop by Carol of Comfort Spring Station for lots more ideas. 

Jenny of Cookies Coffee and Crafts made this personalized placement for her spring table and the results couldn't be sweeter! 

This little tray made from paint sticks, adds an elegant spring touch to any table! Susan of Homeroad has the easy tutorial for us. 

Looking for a tablescape, then look no further then Debra's of Shoppe No.5.  She shows us how to transition from Easter to Spring!

I repurposed an old vine wreath into  a nest for Easter eggs. It makes a great centerpiece and it was so easy to create!



​Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.
For the Wall and Door:
Is there anything more cheerful than a wreath full of moss and eggs?  Handan of The Navage Patch shares her tutorial with us. 
This fun wall decor was made by Carlene from Organized Clutter.  She repurposed a thrift store find and added some unusual pieces to come up with this unique piece. 

Sometimes simple is the way to go.  Roxanne of The Honeycomb Home shared her simple and elegant DIY Spring wreath. 

Are you a gardener?  Even if you aren't,  you will definitely want Marie's of The Interior Frugalista, DIY project for a Spring Garden Tool Holders with a Planter. I think it makes such a statement on the wall and adds a colorful rustic vibe to any space. 

This idea from Art Decoration Crafting by Christina Makri is just the perfect whimsical Spring wreath for your door. ​​
Another great way to usher in Spring is this pallet sign that Debra from Shoppe No.5 made using greeting cards!

Have you ever seen a wreath like this one?  Only Gail of Purple Hues and Me can come up with such a distinctive craft.
You can also create your own wall art for spring.  Beverly of Across the Boulevard shares her easy tutorial for this Spring Blooms wall art!

Is there anything cuter than bunny cutouts?  Lisa of The Purple Hydrangea shares her simple Spring book Page Bunny Garland!

My favorite wreath of all time is  this natural one which I made for May Day (a traditional celebration in Greece) using wild flowers picked from the farm. And once it is dried out it looks even better!  You can use any flowers you have on hand.

These gorgeous botanical printables from The Navage Patch would make a great addition to any wall for spring.  Just look at the details!
Home Decor:

Here's a simple idea that works any time of the year.  Using silver plates and chargers, Marie of The Interior Frugalista turned them into round chalkboards.  The message is all your own!

Here is a unique centerpiece for all you farmhouse enthusiasts!  Susan of Homeroad repurposed  bed springs to create these lovely eggs nests.  

Julie of Sum of our Stories shared two projects with us using Faux grass and flowers! This pretty vase and a pen pot! 

Aren't these flowers beautiful?  Deborah of Salvage Sister and Mister made them using tissue paper!

And to put the flowers somewhere, I upcycled this vintage mirror.  I think it looks best with spring flowers!

Outdoor Spring Ideas:

What did Michelle of A Crafty Mix use to make this one-of-a-kind planter?  You guessed it, a shoe!! The leprechauns will be very happy!

Here's a smart idea from Handan of The Navage Patch.  Put your basket planter on casters so you can move it easily when need be!

If you have lots of teapots and saucers but can't bear to part with them then this is the post for you.  Marie of The Interior Frugalista shows us how to make wind chimes using teapots and cups and saucers!

Pam of House of Hawthornes repurposed these rubber boots into the most adorable planters.  Love that bold color!!

I found these copper pots in the basement and finally dragged them outside.  After a good cleaning I repurposed them into planters
Janet of Try It, Like It shows us how to make these fun garden flowers out of recycled cans!  

Have you ever seen anything as pretty as this garden chandelier?  Maria of Simple Nature Decor shows us how to make our very own!

Debbie of Confessions of a Plate Addict thrifted old picnic basket and turned it into this adorable planter!

Got an old dated hanging flower planter?  Toni of Girl,Just DIY! shows us how to give it a new life!

This unique wind chime was  repurposed from a tire rim.  Is sure to get everyone's attention not only because of its' size but also for those antique keys. 

Well that certainly was a lot of Spring crafting inspiration - 35 Easy Spring Ideas to inspire you!   And Inspire  you I hope they did, because Spring is really just around the corner!

Are there any you are planning to try?
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The other day I was shopping at Michael's (which happens to be my all time favorite store) and I spotted these crates. They were wood and only $10, and if you have a coupon you pay even less. 

This got me to thinking if I could use one, and if so, where.  I came up with the idea of placing it on top of the cubby unit I just made over, and I'd use it for newspaper storage. The only problem was the unfinished wood. Today I'm going to share how I transformed that crate and got a stunning finish with stain.

Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.


I walked around a little bit more and found this stain.  It's from Michael's private label Craftsmart.  I really liked that soft grey color.  And if you know anything about me at all, it's that I'm all about soft and calm this past year. So I added that to my cart. 

What I Used:
The How To:
It was such an easy project. I started out by sanding the rough spots on the outside of the crate.  I didn't bother with the inside because I had other ideas for it.
 
I brushed the stain (not affiliate link) on all sides and wiped back with a paper towel. Below you can see how it looked after one coat. 


​I used a sponge/foam brush to get into the tight spots. 
After the second coat it was done but I still needed to add a wax to seal in the stain.  



​There is actually a wax that goes with the stain (not affiliate link), but I already had lots of wax.  So in the spirit of using up my supplies, I chose to go with the Daddy Van's Decorative Wax in Farmhouse White.  I'm sure any wax will do just fine.  
I went with the white to try and get a bit more interest in the wood color and also lighten it up a bit. 

Just put it on and buff it off. 


​Because I didn't sand the wood on the inside, it was not smooth and I ended up with this rustic goodness from the white wax which I'm really loving!
Now I've got the perfect container for my newspapers.  I actually use them when I'm peeling potatoes or making a mess on the kitchen counter.  I place them on the counter before I make my mess and then just throw them out when I'm done. A good way to use those newspapers and flyers and a great way to protect your counters. 
The color is a soft grayish brown and not dark at all so it blends in nicely with the rest of the room. And it has that farmhouse look we all love so much!

I think it looks stunning, in a subtle kind of way!  In fact I love it so much, I may go back and get a few more. Have, I mentioned just how much I love shopping at Michael's?

This was my tutorial on how to get a stunning finish on a wood crate with stain. It was such an easy project, in fact it only took me about an hour with the drying time.  Those crates never looked so good!

​Do you shop at Michael's?

More Stain Ideas:
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This blog is for entertainment purposes only; my DIY tutorials are not professional advice. Read my full disclaimer here.​

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You may have something ugly and really do not want it in your house because it clashes with everything else but it is practical for storage.  What do you do short of tossing it out and buying a new one?  Well that is not what this blog is about.  You know we strive for DIY solutions here.

​And if you've followed me for any length of time you know that my motto is "The Power of Paint".  The simplest way to transform something is with paint.  

​See the ugly below?  It was sitting in my living room looking oh so ugly!! But I found a way to solve this problem!   I'm going to show you how to paint cubby storage units the easy way. 
Disclosure: I was compensated for doing this post with product.  However, all the opinions stated here are my own. I only use products I love and would recommend to my viewers. 
​​​​

But let's back track a bit.  Last year I gave  the bedroom a makeover.  I started with  way too much stuff in there and painted a lot and also removed some. 

One of the items that was taken out was this two piece cubby storage unit. There was simply no space for this in the bedroom so I moved it into the living room.

We have an open plan of sorts in our home. To walk from the living room to the dining area there are two steps.  The rail is a divider that keeps us from falling over into the dining area.  Those cubby units were going to be placed against the railing, to create a more defined space for the living area and also because we can never have enough storage in my house. After all this isn't Texas, this is New York and all homes are tiny!

Below is an after photo.  Don't mind the mess, Tatou will get mad at you if you judge.

​But first they needed a makeover! 
What I Used:
Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.


The paint does not need a primer so I just started painting.  I used a  soft tip brush  because I found that the plastic brushes make it harder to paint and leave all sorts of streaks.

After two coats it looked like this.  I knew it would take quite a few coats to cover the black but as I was painting I changed my mind and decided to go with a grey finish. 

I added a bit of black to the white and also a tiny bit of beige to warm up the grey and came up with my own custom color. Of course I could have just bought it like that but I really like to torture myself.  This is a taupe grey which is also nice.

​Actually in the spirit of decluttering,  I am on a mission to get rid of all my paint cans so I just used what I had around. I got this idea from my friend Marie of the Interior Frugalista.  She has even more paint cans than I do.  Go check out her blog and you can thank me later.  She is a wiz with the paint brush!
A few more coats of this grey color and I was done.  This paint does not need a sealer.  If left alone for a few days to cure, it dries to a hard finish. 

If you are working on a piece that is wood and you want to seal in the wood paint you can also  use this sealer.  My cubbies were laminate so there was no need for that on my part.  

In fact I've also painted laminate furniture many times in the past, on this campaign dresser, this Ikea Malm dresser, using gel stain, on this Ikea desk, and these nasty bookcases.  That was a lot of painting!


​I painted the back as well because no one wants to look at an ugly backside!
​I ended up placing the cubbies horizontally on the floor.  This way they do not block the sun from reaching that dark dining area. And lucky for me, it was a perfect fit, just grazing the railing. This is also   great solution if you are starting from scratch. ​


Once dry it mimics the faux grain of the laminate. The color is grey, but depending on the light it can have a hint of blue, which works fine by me.  If you know anything about me, it is my love of blue and how I've transformed the living room into a blue oasis!
​My storage solution was to take some cardboard boxes and dress them up with wrapping paper.  You can read about why I do that here.  

​Now I have lots more storage and a place to put all those books which get displaced from their normal spot on the bookshelves every time I get the desire to create vignettes  for every season!

Oh the first world problems we have!
And that basket makes a nice contrast to the whole grey look.  Should I paint it white or leave it as is?

I put some of those felt furniture pads on the bottom of the units so they would have a bit of a cushion too. 

​And that is my solution to my storage problem.  You can see just how easy it was to see how easy it was to repaint these cubby storage units.  I was really glad I could make use of these storage cubbies and in a way that fit in perfectly with the rest of the room. 

​Have you ever tried painting laminate?
​If you really like what you see subscribe to my blog and get my adventures in your mailbox. The form is on the sidebar and on top.  To see my privacy policy click here.
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I've been saving up these photos for a while now and I really don't know why.  They were all taken in the area of downtown Manhattan, a bit of SoHo and primarily to the west which is a commercial area and known as Hudson Square. 

Today I'm taking you on a tour and sharing a monumental surprise at Hudson Square in New York. 
SoHo is an area in west downtown Manhattan.  The name comes from its location which is South of Houston Street.   

Much of SoHo is quaint and village like. 
..with cast iron buildings and boutiques. 


In fact the area is famous for these types of buildings which were originally factories and when later abandoned, were inhabited by artists for their expansive loft spaces. 

​You might even be fooled into thinking that you are on a Greek island every once in a while. This shot was taken in front of a restaurant. Love that blue!!
​Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.


​But if you gaze up there is no denying that you are in fact surrounded by lots of skyscrapers, the most prominent being The Freedom Tower at One Word Trade Center.
​ 
There is that juxtaposition of solid looking brick buildings.

Some with ornate facades.
​ 
And the monoliths. 

There is that spiral of The Freedom Tower looking down at us. 

​Lots of greenery too.
And flowers...


​And unexpected facade cladding.  This building, which is residential, is covered in a metal that is brimming with patina. 

Back to the more traditional. 

​I lived in one of these when we first moved to the States a few lifetimes ago and I remember having a fire escape outside my 5th floor bedroom window.  It was so thrilling for a girl who had never seen any building taller than two stories. 
As we come closer to the Hudson Square area which is just off the Hudson River, we find an interesting mix of buildings. 

The Urban Glass House was designed by work famous architect Philip Johnson, he of the original Glass House fame built back in 1949.  


​Walking up Hudson Street we come to this.  You'd think its a residential building but in fact it is a commercial office building. 
Hudson Street is a delight for the eyes!



​Full of so many unexpected details, if you only look up!
Even this is cool to look at. 



​Right off of the Hudson River we encounter this striking building. 
Can you guess what's inside?  

Those fins by the way, move to track the suns movement throughout the day and contribute to its environmentally friendly status. 
It is the New York City Department of Sanitation Garage.  I never knew garbage could look so stylish!

And let's not forget our perfect view right across the street from the Garage or "Tower of Garbage" as it is affectionately known!
I've saved the last one for last.  This strange construction which looks like it came out of the desert is across the street from the "Tower of Garbage".  What do you think might be inside?

It is full of salt!  

That's right, the Department of Sanitation uses it as a storage shed for the salt that is used in the winter. It's official title is Spring Street Salt Shed. It's even won a couple of Architectural awards!

Just look at that undulating building.  My first impression when I encountered it was one of disbelief.  I circled it and circled it trying to figure out what it was.  It looks like a giant piece of sculpture. 

To the west of the shed is West Street (very creative) and beyond that is the Hudson River.  Underneath this road is the Holland Tunnel which connects Manhattan to New Jersey on the other side of the river. 

And that is my exhaustive tour of the Hudson Square area of Manhattan. With a monumental surprise at the end!  Only in New York folks!!

And if you'd like to subscribe to my photography posts,  click here. You can also see  more photo essay here. ​

I​f you really like what you see subscribe to my blog and get my adventures in your mailbox. The form is on the sidebar and on top.  To see my privacy policy click here.
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This blog is for entertainment purposes only; my DIY tutorials are not professional advice. Read my full disclaimer here.​

I love it when I get your comments and I will try to reply to every one of them.
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