Archive for October 2012

My Hair is a Bird's Nest Halloween Costume

Monday, October 29, 2012

A few weeks ago I saw a picture in Martha Stewart's Halloween magazine of a woman with a nest in her hair. I was in line at the grocery store so I only had a minute to look at it, but as soon as I saw it I said to myself, "Self, that is me!"

Who hasn't had hair "like a bird's nest?" I wake up that way every morning.

If you want an elegant up-do like mine, here's how I did it.

1. Blow dry your hair with WAY more product in it than you would normally use.

2. Add a bunch of hair spray for good measure then get those locks up in some hot curlers. If you already have curly hair skip that part.

3. While your hair is in curlers gather up the stuff you want to stick in it plus bobby pins and a glue gun. I used:

tons of Spanish moss

a crow from my Halloween box

a little plastic skull


bits of bush with berries on it that I snipped out of my backyard

a small shell

4. Whip out those curlers but don't brush your hair. More hairspray! More!

5. Pull up the hair at the crown of your head and make a messy bun. This is what you will anchor all your moss into.

6. Take a big wad of moss and plop it on top of the bun. It needs to be thick because you're going to glue things in it and you don't want glue going through it and sticking to your hair.

7. Use lots of bobby pins to pull the moss around into the shape of a skull cap and stick them into your bun. I had some green moss that I pinned onto the front too.

8. Next I got my cheap plastic crow and hot glued him right up top there. I did it myself and since the moss was nice and thick I didn't have any problems with glue in my hair when it was time to take it out. I did have lots of little bits of moss to brush out though.

9. Now glue in whatever else you think will look creepy beautiful up there.

10. Step ten is to stick twigs, berries, and whatever other backyard grandaflora you like into your mess, I mean nest. Secure with more bobby pins.

11. The last step was to use a curling iron to curl up the other bits of my hair that were sticking out and then to pull in pin little pieces of hair up and around the nest so it looked like it was more part of my hair.

This was a seriously fun costume to make! It only took maybe 30 minutes. I think it would be really cute on a kid who wanted to be a tree, just add brown pants and a green shirt.

Happy Halloween!

Love is Eww

Thursday, October 25, 2012

So the other day my oldest daughter, 19 year old Maddie, called me from college and told me that she is in love with her boyfriend, which information caused me to gasp, "eww," and get a little sick taste in my mouth.

"Did you just say 'eww'?" she demanded.

"No," I said. When in doubt deny.

"Yes you did!" she insisted.

"Don't hate me," I wined and then put on my big girl pants and told her how much I love her and how happy I am for her and how wonderful those feelings are.

When we got off the phone I banged my head on the wall sideways. Twice. Just to clear all the panic and try to reinforce how happy I am for her and how wonderful those feelings are.

Because really they are. And Maddie is such a smart, independent, insightful cookie. I'm sure she will be fine. 

That's her in the middle.
But having your kids grow up...sheesh is all I have to say about it.

How I Styled My Bookshelves

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Figuring out how to style my bookshelves hasn't been easy friends, but after much internet perusal I think I've done it and I'm ready to share my tips with you! The problem really is that I adore books (you and me both, right?), so I have a lot of them, and I crazily think that I should store them in my bookshelves.  

But then I look at pictures of bookshelves on blogs and in magazines and they look like this:
It's lovely, yes, but it has almost no books! 

So I've been working to find a happy medium in between storing my books and making the bookshelves look prettier. 

My first step was accepting that there was no way I was going to make a lot of my beloved paper backs look good. I think you can if you have a large room with lots of shelves, like this:

But if you're working in a small space with just one or two bookcases you need to leave some space on the shelves for your eyes to rest on.

So I decided to shove all my superfluous yet strangely essential paper backs under this side table; they're hard to get at, but better than in a box in my garage. I kind of like the way it looks too.
Next I focused on collecting a few pretty items from around the house to go on the shelves. Keeping to a limited color scheme helps things look cohesive. I went with blue, white, and cream.

Books look great too, it just helps if you group them by size and color, and also use the tried and true method of lining some up horizontally and stacking others vertically.

As you're placing items on the shelves keep stepping back to check for balance. I squint up my eyes so everything goes a little blurry and try to notice if there is a balanced pattern of full and empty space. I'm sure I don't look weird doing that. I use the same technique when I'm decorating our Christmas tree, really, it works.

Here the shelves from some other angles.
 Natural items like shells, nests, or fossils add another layer of interest and texture.

I like the look of something shiny, well, everywhere, so I added the frames and mercury glass container and placed them diagonally from each other. 

Consider using a pretty dish or two also.
So there you have it. It is sure better than where I started!

How I Get Brave and Paint My Furniture

Monday, October 22, 2012

I finished up the bookshelves on Friday and made Marc sit in the room with me and pretend to care while I fussed around with styling them on Saturday. 

Here they are before I painted them.

And here they are after.
I decided to go with white and blue instead of silver. I'm back to wanting to use the silver on the dining room table. Anyway...

These bookshelves are solid cherry from Marc's old office and they did have a nice poly finish on them. The guy in the paint store would tell you, like he told me, that you have to sand and prime before you can paint something like these. But I thought to myself, "Ima risk it," and just went ahead and painted without any of that boring prep stuff.

I rolled on the Clark and Kensington paint from Ace hardware in semi-gloss latex interior enamel in "designer white." It took three coats, but since it drys pretty quickly I was able to do it in one day.
The roller I used was one of the little ones. Incidentally, sometimes when you open a new roller it can be a little sticky-like the roller part doesn't want to spin around easily...just pull it off and spray a tiny bit of WD-40 on the handle to take care of that.
While the third coat was drying I painted the shelves. Here you can see the difference between one and two coats of paint.
After the cases felt really dry I went ahead and taped off the back part that I wanted to paint blue. Sometimes I think I'm really good at cutting in, but the shelves were looking so nice and smooth I decided to make like a professional and use my blue painters tape.
Then I just rolled on the blue. It took three coats also to get really opaque coverage.

Since I used an enamel paint I didn't need to add a varnish or polyurethane to protect the finish and give it shine, it already had it. Bonus!

 I'm really happy with how they came out. I'll show you how I styled them tomorrow. 

If you're interested in more details about how I paint, last week I taught a class on painting furniture for the women's group from my church. Here is the handout that I shared. It explains the fast and easy way I paint. Be warned; I am not a perfectionist-but I do get stuff painted!

(Meaning I just make all this up as I go and am usually pleased with the results)

1. Do I need to sand? If you’re piece is in good condition you might just prime it. But if it has varnish or could benefit from a cleaning you can sand. You don’t need to sand down to the bare wood, just rough up the surface with a medium grit sand paper. It should only take a few minutes.  A small electric sander can be great for this.

2. Wipe off the dust with a tack cloth. If you aren’t sanding, clean the piece with a damp cloth and mild cleaner. Paint does not like to stick to dirt.

3. Do I need to prime? My answer is maybe.  If you want a super smooth finish you should prime.  If you are lazy or don’t mind a more distressed finish you might not.  It’s all good.

4. I rarely bother, but you can use wood filler to fix scratches and holes in wood furniture. It is sandable and paintable.

5. Use a good quality paint brush. I like a 2” angled Purdy brush. If you wash it well with a wire brush it will last a long time. Sometimes I use a small roller to put the paint on a large flat surface like a table top and then brush over it.

6. The fun part…PAINT.  I’ve had success using left over latex wall paint, latex enamel paint, oil based paint, and Annie Sloan Chalk paint.
            Latex wall paint-benefits are you might just have it laying around in a color you like and it cleans easily with water. This is good when you are feeling pretty casual about how it’s going to turn out- like “anything will be better than how it is.”
Latex enamel paint-benefits are that it is shiny and smooth (I like semi-gloss), easy to clean with water, harder and more durable, and comes in any color you want.
Oil based paint-benefits are a really smooth finish, the most durable, brush marks disappear. Draw backs are that it comes in limited colors, it smells bad, takes longer to dry/cure, and you have to use mineral spirits to clean it up.
Chalk paint-benefits are that you really don’t need to sand or prime (perfect if you can’t move the piece outside), it has almost no odor,  it dries very quickly and cleans up with water. Draw backs are that it is expensive ($40 a quart) and that you can only buy it in a few places.

7.  Varnish can be good after your latex paint is totally dry to protect it from scratches. Be sure to get latex polyurethane or polycrylic.   Do this outside or in a really well ventilated area because it is super smelly, like head ache giving smelly. If you are pregnant, make your husband do this part. Spray varnish or rub on varnish are both easier to use than brush on.

8. Enjoy your newly painted furniture and feel very proud of yourself! Don’t point your mistakes out to people!

*Do you have questions? Go ahead and email me, Shelley, at 

More Paint and Elbow Grease

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I am continuing to work on my family room transformation (see my plans here). The project that I relish the least is painting the bookshelves, so I'm making myself do it before I can buy fabric for the curtains. It's sort of a vegetables before cookies kind of thing.

I got through several steps yesterday.

1. empty the bookshelves.

2. Vacuum up the amazing gravity defying dog hair that was all over the back of said bookshelves.

3. Get a diet coke.

4. Drag bookshelves into the kitchen. I have a devious master plan that by painting in the kitchen I will get paint on the floor thus speeding the day when we will rip up the linoleum and paint the wood underneath. And then I will take over the tri-state area. Evil laugh.....

5. Roll on the first coat of white latex enamel paint.

6. Watch the new episode of Modern Family and dream about how I have eight more years until massive world travel ensues. Believe Phil and Claire have made a grave mistake. (Don't judge; surely you know I adore my smalls)

7. Finish rolling on second coat of paint just in time to go pick up Ellie.

I didn't paint the backs because I'm going fore a look like this:

I work today and Book club is at my house tonight so I won't get a chance to finish until tomorrow. I'll keep you updated.

Up-cycle Fabric Pumpkins DIY

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You've noticed, of course, the beautiful plush fabric pumpkins featured all over blogland, yes? Me too! And I want some!

Turns out you can buy a set of three of these lovelies for $107. Well, you can maybe; I can't. But as I've said before, all things can be overcome with diligent obsessing!

So I started perusing google for how to make fabric pumpkins and when I found this picture, from this blog I knew I'd found my inspiration.
 Jamie, from "Scrap-bags" gives some fine instructions for making your own pumpkins, and when I saw her adorable vintage gourds I realized I could up-cycle some old clothes and  get me some fall fabulousness...for freeee! 

I started with an old shirt of Katie's and a dress that Maddie wore when she was little.

I followed Jamie's instructions and cut various rectangles that were twice as long as they were wide, so that when I folded one in half, it made a perfect(ish) square.
Next you put right sides together and sew the side opposite the fold closed.
From there it's a simple matter to gather one side with a running stitch, stuff that little guy, and then gather up the open end with another running stitch.
One more time,  click here for some really detailed, great directions. The final step is to wrap your darling squash with yarn or embroidery thread to make the pumpkin sections.
Oh wait,the final final step is to pretend your pretty pumpkins are America's Next Top Models and do a photo shoot... 

Look at these baby ones! I love them. 

This project was super fun and I got all of these done in a couple of hours in one evening. If you decide to make some, leave a link in the comments so we can all ooh and ahh. Happy Fall!

Hooray For One Dish Dinners

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This is a recipe that my friend, Rene, gave to me when I asked if she had any "one dish wonders" to feed a crowd. Because honestly, one 14 year old boy is a crowd.

It is so good, and looks and smells heavenly. The red sauce and the green spinach make it look really appealing. I love a dish that has the vegetable cooked right in! Add a salad and bread and whoot you're done!

Today I actually doubled the recipe. I have a 9x12 in my fridge for tonight, and two 9 inch pans ready to take to a friend. I feel so productive.

Baked Ziti with Spinach and Sausage

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
50 min
6 to 8 servings


  • Salt
  • 1 pound ziti
  • 1 pound hot Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 6 ounces pesto
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 (9-ounce) package washed spinach
  • Butter, for baking dish
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, plus more for topping


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add ziti and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander.
In a large skillet over medium heat, saute turkey sausage. Add onion and garlic and saute until the sausage is cooked through. Use your spoon to break up the sausage while it cooks. Add the can of diced tomatoes and pesto and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the ricotta cheesespinach, Parmesan and mozzarella to a large bowl, and stir to combine.
Butter a 4-quart baking dish, add the cooked pasta, then sausage mixture and cheese mixture. Top with a sprinkling of mozzarella and Parmesan.
Bake until completely heated through and golden and crisp on top, about 20 minutes.

Here is a link to the recipe on the Food Network where Rene's husband first found it.

The Elusive Weekend Away Finally Happens

Monday, October 8, 2012

Our plans for the weekend shifted suddenly and we found ourselves on Friday night with a fairly open couple of days in front of us. We love General Conference, but the chance to get away almost never presents itself, and we decided to take a fly by the seat of our pants trip up the coast to see the California Giant Redwoods.

Okay, really Marc and the kids wanted to take this trip. I, in my hate for all plan changing ways, wanted to stay home and paint my bookshelves and clean my bathrooms and maybe get out some Halloween decorations. But whatever. I got over it and I'm glad I did.

The drive was actually a lot of fun. On Saturday morning we just threw a ton of sleeping bags in the car and took off. We laughed and sang and talked, it was really nice to be smooshed all together in our new non-mini-van. We pulled into a camp ground around 2pm and decided to splurge on a $50 cabin since we didn't have our tent.

 We ate sausage and hot dogs and s'mores.

Every tiny little rest stop we drove past had a sign claiming to be the "World Famous" something or other...but the next day when we got onto the Avenue of the Giants we really were blown away. There are no photos (that I took) that can do it justice, but I'm posting away.

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”

-John Steinbeck

Thank you Mr. Steinbeck. We felt it, but I couldn't express it.

I can't 'splain my son.

We hiked all over. The kids climbed, oh, everything. Jonathan took a nasty fall off of one big stump and got scratched up pretty badly, but he is man, and kept his stoic on.

This is the official tallest tree in the world.
It is world famous, while we were there we met people from Texas, Denmark, and Ireland. So there. Ellie won't look at the camera because she is mad because the whole world isn't revolving around her, darn it!

This family weekend was about a million times better than if we had stayed home and done what I wanted. Sometimes I wish we were better planners(!), but sometimes being impulsive works out just right.
p.s. I just realized the sweater I'm wearing has been worn by both Maddie and Katie on "ugly sweater day" at their high school. But I make it work.


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