Halloween Blocks

I found some adorable Halloween scrapbooking supplies at the Dollar Spot at Target. I don't scrapbook, but these were so cute I knew I had to find something use them for.

Amanda at Imperfectly Beautiful makes these really cute blocks (go buy some!), and I wanted to try to do something fun like that for Halloween.  My Hero picked up a piece of 2x6 from Home Depot for me and cut it down into pieces roughly 7 1/4" long.

I used his awesome Dremel sander to smooth out the ends and the corners. (I love this sander, by the way.) Then I painted them with regular black acrylic craft paint, and they were all ready to be decorated.

I found one collection of free vintage Halloween images here, and another great source for vintage holiday images here. Free! It was a tough choice because they're all so stinkin' cute, but I picked these four, resized them in Photoshop and used Mod Podge to mount the images on heavy duty black cardboard to give them a little depth.

I don't know how I've never used Mod Podge before, but this stuff rocks. I used it to adhere my scrapbook papers to the wood and then went to town embellishing them. A few hours later, and here's what I made!

Okay, besides the mess, these!

I don't know which one is my favorite, I love how they all turned out...

Aren't those polka dots perfect for that little clown?  I had the ribbon left over from the lemonade stand.  (One day there will be pictures of this lemonade stand, I swear.)

This black and green ribbon was the only other thing I bought, $1.19.

The burlap was left over from a project a hundred years ago. And I made little bats out of ribbon.  I love them!

This pretty orange bow came off a package of potpourri I bought.  See, you never know when those bits and pieces come in handy!

These were so fun to make, and cheap, too. The wood cost about $5, the Halloween papers and stickers cost $3, plus the ribbon... puts me at under ten bucks!  Ain't no recession gonna keep me down!


Fall Decor

I started unpacking my fall decorations pretty much at Labor Day (yes, I'm only now taking pictures of it, shhh). It seemed early to me then, but I have to say, I'm glad I was ready to start celebrating fall while it was still summer, because by October 2nd most of the fall stuff was already gone from the stores to make room for Christmas! Yikes! Seriously? I have to be honest, I'm not feelin' the holly jollies yet! Is it just me? I know the older I get, the faster time seems to fly by. It SO doesn't help when Christmas comes three months early. If you're trying to "live in the present," probably don't go into HomeGoods. :) Okay, that's enough of my soap boxing.

Without further ado, before everyone starts whistling Christmas carols, here are a few little things I did to start dressing up the house for autumn. Remember this cutie thing?

Look at him now! I just added some tiny pumpkins and Indian corn. I love it! (Are we still calling it Indian corn, or do I have to say criss-cross-apple...corn?)

Since I don't have a mantel, my dining room table is basically standing in. I would have set it up like a dining room table, with decorations down the middle, but usually the table looks like this:

Woah, how'd that get in there?  What I meant to say was, we use this table for everything—homework, folding laundry, making crafts—we'd forever be shoving the decor out of the way. I wish I had a better idea, but for now it's sort of arranged as if it were a mantel. Silly, I know, but it still looks like fall.

I love the look of a simple, leafy branch in a vase. If I still lived up north, my house would be filled with pretty branches, and acorns, and pine cones I collected outside. {sniff} Florida doesn't have a lot of natural bounty in the fall leaves department, so we have to improvise. I used a preserved oak branch. From the grocery store. Also from the grocery store, an infamous wheat bundle. (Yes, it is real!) The pumpkins aren't. But I'm loving white pumpkins and had to have some.

A bowl full of gourds and some stray leaves. The little bird was on sale at Michaels; when I got to the register, it rang up even less than I thought. $1.19? I'll take two!

Someday I need to learn the secrets professional floral designers use to get that perfect combination of color, texture and shape to their arrangements. For now, I decided to try to copy the style of the pre-made arrangements at Michaels, and I wanted to do it without spending a ton of money. I found stems in the natural elements section that had nice variety and texture already combined, and they were 40% off. I picked a couple of tall ones and a couple floral and literally just popped them in this vase I already had. Not bad!

I'm also digging copper, a lot. I found this mercury glass-looking acorn at HomeGoods for $6. The small copper pumpkin came from Ross for a sweet $1.99! Love it! And the birdie twin. I wasn't kidding, I did take two.

Here's a side table in the living room.  I think having a lot of one type of flower looks so dramatic.  Probably could use a little height under the candles.  I'll have to see what I can do about that.

Before I show the kitchen, there's a warning: The following image contains a graphic depiction of vertical blinds and may not be suitable for those with a sensitive decorating palate. They're ghastly. And broken. And the more broken they get, the happier I am because the closer they are to being replaced. Unless we want to suffer Florida afternoon sun beaming straight through the kitchen door. Which is unbearable, really, so that's not an option. Anyway, at least these cozy decorations have a place to live!

It's a much better view without those horrendous verticals.  No wonder they call them blinds.

Ahh, that's better. I don't know about everyone else, but I'm a sucker for holiday lights.  They're like instant festive!  I love their warm glow.  Note to self to do a better job hiding that extension cord.  I was standing on a chair to take these pics, and even though you can't see it from the ground, it bugs me now.

These are the shelves over our little coffee bar.  I just tucked in some glass bead garland, more tiny pumpkins, some pine cones and leaves.  Easy!


That's all for now, I'm off to start planning Easter! Just kidding....


A tiny office

The back-to-school project I mentioned a few weeks ago is finally done! The Princess started first grade this year and I thought it would be nice for her to start off the new school year with a little work space all her own. I transformed some things I already had to make the cutest six year-old’s office ever.

When my company moved into a new building, I inherited all kinds of things, including a cork board and a side table that have been sitting in my garage waiting for makeovers. I picked out some pretty fabric and ribbon for the bulletin board and my Hero went to Home Depot and got all my supplies to refinish the table, which was the perfect size for a mini writing desk.

A little disclaimer: Apparently I'm not too good about taking all my before and during pics. I'll try and get better.

Everyone’s done a bulletin board makeover by now I’m sure, but I had to do mine a little differently. We're in the process of redoing the girls' room (and by "in the process" I mean we haven't picked out colors, bedding or paint yet...still waiting to get their bunk beds first:

Anyway, I wanted to cover the cork board in a way that could be easily re-coordinated with the d├ęcor later if we need to. I got a piece of oak tag and used spray adhesive to attach the fabric, wrapping it about an inch around the back. (By the way, does anyone know what I'm talking about when I say oak tag? That's what we used to call it when I was in school, but the girl at Michael's looked at me like I had a growth when I asked her where it was. So poster board, oak tag, whatever.) When that was dry, I sprayed some more adhesive to attach it to the cork board, which I had painted white.  I stapled the edges to secure it and trimmed it out with pretty fuchsia ribbon. (Thanks to my lovely picture taking skills, you'll have to scroll to the end to see it in it's glory.)

I found sparkly rhinestone flowers at Wal-Mart to make thumb tacks.

They were self adhesive. I thought I could just use E6000 to glue some tacks over the paper backing and be fine, but the poor things didn't last one push. So I traced some white felt, glued it to the adhesive and glued my tacks on top of that. Perfect!

Now, on to the table. Here's my pile of refinishing stuff:

I was a little intimidated because I've never refinished anything and I was looking at an awful lot of chemicals and sanding ahead of me. I also don't have a good history with woodworking. (Honestly, I was thinking I'd just prime and paint it, but my Hero had a right(er) way in mind, so.) It really wasn't bad. I just followed the directions on the can. The only mishap was the supposed stripper pad that fell apart like cotton candy after being moistened with the After Wash. Too bad—that thing worked like a charm... for about 15 seconds. Okay so first we globbed on the stripper and let it do it's thing for about 20 minutes or so, then we scrubbed off the urethane gunk with a stripper pad stiff bristle brush and sanded. We had to do something about the side panel so there would be space to sit comfortably underneath, so we drew an arc and my Hero cut it out with his jigsaw. Then we primed, sanded again and painted.

The legs looked great, but for some reason the top (that was supposed to be the easy part) was all rough and patchy. So I sanded it again. And painted it again. And that didn’t fix it. What the H? The Hero gave up on spray paint and thought we should try to even out the texture with a brush and latex paint. Annnnd that didn’t work. Soo, I sanded it. AGAIN. Spray painted it, again. And decided that was good enough. Three coats of clear gloss later, we it was finally ready to come inside.

I also found a mail sorter in my To Goodwill box, not that she has a lot of bills to keep track of, but I figured she could use it for note pads, library books, cards or whatever. Again, sorry for the lack of before pics but just imagine this black.

And here’s her little “office” all put together:

Isn't it too cute?? She even has her own calendar—Tinkerbell, of course!

I love these pretty pencils. I found them on clearance in Michael’s dollar section. So what does that make them, practically free?  I decorated this can for her lemonade stand last summer (that should be a post of it's own) and it worked perfectly as a pencil holder.

Now I just need to track down a chair for her. I found a cute white one online at Wal-Mart, but it’s about $40. It just bugs me to spend that much, when everything else was free!


Mantel Envy

The frenzied decorating season is right around the corner and I'm starting to have mild anxiety about not having a mantel to dress up. See, when we got our new TV last year, it wouldn't fit in our old entertainment center, which used to serve as my faux mantle. We needed someplace to put the TV, so we bought just the TV stand part of an expandable wall system and planned to purchase the side towers and bridge for the top later on. I'll spare the boring technicalities and just say that we have yet to purchase the side towers and bridge for the top.

Meanwhile, enter Ballard Designs and this beauty:
It was love at first sight. I want it so badly I can't honestly judge whether it even goes with the rest of my furniture. It's perfect for me. Plenty of storage, not bulky, built in room to decorate...and it might even go with my stuff? Perfect. But um, it's $1800. On sale. Plus shipping, plus...err...delivery fee? I would hope that when I pay for shipping, yes, the delivery guy will... DELIVER it. But regardless, there's no way I can spend that much on one piece of furniture.
So until I solve my mantel-less-ness, I'll have to live vicariously through other people's pretty Autumn mantel displays. {sigh}

This is from an old issue of Southern Living's Cooking School magazine. I LOVE grape vine. And twinkle lights.

Mmmm leaves...
{Photo: stormybayou}
{Photo: saucydragonfly}

I've always had a thing for gourds. I could never have enough of these.
{Photo: melsky}

Not too early for a little taste of Halloween, is it?
Classy and festive. Love all that mercury glass.
{Photo: providencehandmade}
How sweet are these signs, and that banner is adorable.
{Photo: jeanetta darley}
Classic black, simple and bold.  And I'm thinking it may be my turn to steal borrow the B-O-O idea. :)
{Photo: melissann}

This is so pretty for thanksgiving. I love the wheat bundles.
{Photo: thefeltmouse}
Last year we bought a wheat bundle at Publix and the poor cashier girls were stumped. They didn't know what it was or where it came from. While they were trying to determine how much to charge for it, they said "It's not real, is it?" I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that.  Real as in, am I going home to make bread out of it??

Now, tell me this baby isn't ready to get all dressed up with pretty pumpkins and leaves.  If only it would come home to me.


Flecks of Fall

I have a post mostly written about a project that's mostly done, but not quite. It's not for lack of effort, that's for sure. It's just that I hit this literal rough patch, so it's taking longer than I anticipated to finish. It was going to be a back to school project, but it's the second week of school now, so hopefully (hope hope) this week.

I guess with all the back-to-school-ness, it's inevitable to start feeling the first tickles of Fall, right? Say right. But with school starting in August, and with Florida's monoseason in full 96 degree swing, it somehow feels a little off thinking of Halloween.

I remember Fall air. It's been a long time, but I do. The cool snap of it, that sweet smell of turning leaves... and then come pumpkins and Indian corn (do they still call it Indian corn?), Fall fairs...candy apples...cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice...sorry, what was I saying? Right, Autumn in August.

Well, happily, I figured out I'm not the only one starting to catch the Autumn bug when I stumbled upon these recipes for pumpkin butter. Look at this pic and tell me this isn't Fall in a jar!

I've never had anything besides apple butter either (hi D!) but I cannot wait to try this.

Here's another thing that winked Fall to me.

This little guy was sitting all proud-like on a clearance shelf at Marshall's. Love! "Take me home with you!" Okay, how much? $2.00. Two! Um, yes.

I have no idea what I'm going to put in its four holes, but I'm seeing tiny white pumpkins. Or a strand of bittersweet tucked in. Oh, bittersweet... how I wish bittersweet would find a fence to grow on here.

I have seen bittersweet here; it was $16. I can't do that. Not in good conscience.

Anyway, I think I'd like to put a stencil on the side of my crate, uhh basket thing, but I don't know what it should say yet. I sometimes suffer from decorating commitment phobia so I don't know if I want to destine it permanently to Halloween. Although it would be mighty cute holding eerie old bottles of witches brew or eye of newt...so, maybe Halloween-y. But I'd be happy if I could repurpose it for other occasions. Any ideas?

Okay, I'm off to dig through my Autumn inspiration file to indulge my inner cozy. And I think I'll use my Labor Day to pack up all my seashells.


Got crafts?

This post is about a week and a half overdue but, the weekend before last, my friend and I went to the CHA Craft SuperShow at our local convention center. Holy crafting madness! This show made me wish I had a clone so one of me could go to work to support the other me's craft addiction. A good number of booths were devoted to scrapbooking and paper crafts. I haven't done too much paper crafting besides a few basic Christmas cards, but I really admire the craft and I'd love to get into it. It was amazing to see so many beautiful, creative ideas. (Sorry for the bad photos; I only had my phone with me.)

My mouth was watering over the vintage stamps, images, and accessories. I heart vintage and these postcard kit project samples they had on display were absolutely gorgeous.

We stopped by the Little Windows booth, and that was where we both fell hard.

These little resin gems were soo cool! They could be used for necklaces, bracelets, magnets, and all kinds of gifts. There were a hundred ways to style them, using photos, postcards, stamps, beads and anything else you can fit. I had to have it. The way I saw it was, I was really saving money on Christmas presents by buying this stuff. Really! Ok, so maybe I just couldn't resist. It was so. cool. I promise I'll post when I finish making my own.

There were make-and-takes all day, some free, others for $3 or $5. There were so many choices, it was tough to decide which one we wanted to do. This one happened to be free, and actually a pretty cool little project:

A while ago I picked up a free project booklet from Michael's, but I haven't made anything from it yet and I'm glad I had the opportunity to try this. There a lot more project ideas on the Styrofoam website that are easy and relatively inexpensive, which might be a great idea for anyone who happens to have vast amounts of empty wall space. Ahem. I know this sounds totally contra-green movement and, if I had any actual readers, I'm sure many of them would be throwing up in their mouths a little. At least the website devotes a section to sustainablity (stop choking), so I can pretend I didn't just declare myself an enemy of the state.

These are the instructions for the bird that we made, using an enlarged version of a stamp to create the silhouette. I bet it would be cute to use a silhouette of your kids, too. Or leaves. Or letters. Or... somebody stop me...
The bird can be mounted back in the "frame" for a 3D piece or the pieces can hung on the wall separately, which also looks very cool.

Bird Silhouette Wall Art
by Dondi Richardson


  • Styrofoam Brand Foam 1" x 12" x 12" sheet (or cut 1" x 12" x 36" sheet into thirds)
  • Styro Cutter® Plus (If you don't have a Styro Cutter® Plus, there are tips on cutting and more)
  • Coordinating scrapbook papers from COLORBOK
  • Craft Glue
  • Bird Silhouette Rubber Stamp and Black Ink
  • 1" Ribbon or 1" strips of paper
  • Metal picture hangers
  • Scissors
  • Poster board
  1. Rubber stamp the image onto a piece of paper. Have image enlarged to fit centered inside the 12"x12" sheet of Styrofoam. You want at least a 1" frame around the image.
  2. Once you have the image enlarged, trace onto a piece of poster board and cut out to create a template. Pin the template centered onto the Styrofoam sheet and cut out using the Styro Cutter® Plus. Follow the instructions on package carefully for proper use of the tool! Be careful when cutting bird image from foam as you can use the cutout bird as a separate wall art piece. Cut in from one edge of the foam, cut all the way around the tamplate and then exit carefully from the same edge you entered. The paper will cover the cut edge. Glue the cut edge together.
  3. Lay the cutout bird onto a sheet of paper, trace and cut out with scissors. Glue paper to cover the cutout bird. Lay the 12" x 12" framed bird silhouette onto a coordinating sheet of paper, trace and cut out silhouette with scissors, carefully cutting in from one edge of the paper. Glue the paper to cover the frame.
  4. To cover the 1" edge of the Styrofoam, glue 1" ribbon or cut 1" strips of coordinating paper and glue to cover edge.
  5. Attach picture hangers to the back of the Styrofoam pieces and secure with glue.