Tuesday, November 3, 2015


My husband and I opened five Zazzle storefronts within the past few months and we've been posting (hopefully useful) articles online to gain attention and help drive traffic to our offerings.

We're been publishing those articles to corresponding web site, which is hosted on Google Drive. Unfortunately, Pinterest won't let us link directly to the web pages, because it considers it to be a redirect. It will, however, allow links to this blog. It's complicated and frustrating to both us and the people wanting to read our articles.

If you arrived at this page from Pinterest and would rather not select the "click here" link above, the content of the "How to Clean Your Child's Stuffed Bear" follows. We're glad you're here and invite you to tour the rest of this blog (which is devoted to our life in, and slow renovations of, our humble 1970s fixer-upper.) If you'd like to learn more about our Zazzle sites, we've published the links below the article.


  • Read and follow the directions on your bear's care label. These supersede any information you'll read here or elsewhere. When in doubt, consult a professional.
  • Don't use harsh detergents or cleaners on washable bears.
  • Keep bear out of direct sunlight to help prevent fading.
  • Keep bear away from moisture/mist/water/liquids, to prevent mildewing and mold.
  • Dust bear regularly.
  • Insect damage can happen in even the cleanest homes. Check bear regularly for signs of infestation.
  • Keep bear away from hear/fire sources.
  • Check for loose pieces (arm sockets, eyes, nose, etc.) Fix any issues as soon as practicable.
  • Protect bear from the elements.
  • Don't store bear in plastic: it encourages mold growth.

Our Zazzle Stores

Keeping Busy

We've had a pretty past few months, but none of it has been terribly glamorous.

  • We had some trees taken down in our yard, to hopefully prevent the tree falls we had last winter. The outside looks like a tornado went through, because we elected to do the cleanup ourselves. (Something we'll likely never do again.)
  • We also replaced the rest of our 30+-year old windows a few months back. We heat our house primarily with electricity, so we're hoping this will help lower the bills.
  • We're replacing a few 1970s square recessed lights.
  • We ordered a replacement bathroom light/fan, to replace one that sounds like a jet plane.
  • The Halloween decorations went up (and came back down this AM)
  • I hit the 80% off sale at Michaels and found fake flowers in just the right shades for the "new to us" tree we'll be putting up for the first time in the family room right after Thanksgiving.

As it write this, the weather is in the 70s and I spent a few hours outside today doing fall cleanup work. I smell like wet leaves and couldn't be happier. While it's a lot of work, it makes me feel truly appreciative for all we have.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Trick-or-Treating Cards

I wish I'd thought of these when my daughter was a child. (Great for shy kids or those too young to say "Trick or Treat!)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Glow-in-the-Dark Day of Dead Craft Project

Because traditional Halloween decorations look out of place in the Ladybug House, L decided to create some Day of the Dead wall hangings, reinventing traditional Mexican designs with an African twist.

Here's a preview of how they turned out (NOT where they'll eventually be hung):

Want to create your own? They can be made fairly affordably if you plan ahead. (Consider making multiples, as L and D did. Cost per unit goes down and you can gift, sell, or keep the extras.)

SUPPLIES: (prices and availability not guaranteed):

  • balsa wood skull cutout (about $3; Michael's)
  • weathered grey Minwax stain (already had)
  • twine (already had)
  • several types of specialty yarn (price varies; Michaels)
  • craft paint (already had)
  • ***clear*** glow-in-the-dark craft paint (about $3 for a small bottle; Michaels)
  • small paint brush (already had)
  • paint sponge (under $1)
  • wooden beads (about $5; Walmart)
  • feather picks (about $3-4 each at Michaels: L was lucky and found a bag of 13 picks for $2 total in a thrift store)
  • copper wire (already had)
  • small glass beads (already had)
  • thick wrapped florist wire (about $6; Michaels)
  • glue gun and glue sticks (already had)
  • fake flowers (about $2 per pick of 5; Michaels)
  • fabric butterflies on wire ($2 for 3; Michaels)
  • clear fishing line

INSTRUCTIONS (results not guaranteed; use at own risk):

1. Stain both sides of wooden skull and let thoroughly dry. Apply second coat if necessary: L liked some of the grain still showing through.

2. Paint face as desired. Leave space for clear "tattoo." Let dry completely.

3. Tattoo rest of face with clear glow-in-the-dark paint and let totally dry.

4. Female figure only: create "crown" from heavy florist wire to fit on skull. Place crown on skull and adjust size as needed. "Decapititate" flowers from pick and affix with hot glue to front of crown. Add decorative "silk" butterflies. Brush butterflies lightly with clear glow-in-the-dark paint. String glass beads on copper wire as desired to make "earrings" and affix.

5. Male figure only: create nose ring with glass beads and copper wire and affix.

6. Cut yarn and twine to twice your desired length. Fold in half and fasten with fishing line at center fold to make "hair" or "beard" tassel(s). Tie tassels to skull and add wooden beads as desired.

7. Wire feather picks to hair/beard.

8. Cut short piece of thick yarn to hang and lace through top of skull. Add wooden bead to each end.

9. Keep wall hangings in a bright spot during the day and they'll look even more interesting when the lights go out.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Return of the Art Lamps

Picked up a pair of lamps at a thrift shop last summer for the sunroom L hopes to build someday. The backstory we were told by the shop was that they were donated by a prominent Vermont art gallery. (Obviously, they were sold without the vintage shade shown here. )  After a year in storage (and no start date for the sunroom in sight), L thought it was time to get some use out of them.    One is in her home office/study (see below); the other is in the family room.

Rest of New Windows In

Last year, we replaced half our windows. This year, we replaced the rest (except for the window in the main bath, which seemed fairly new when we moved in.). Everything went well (no surprises with ants this year.) Only problem is that I inadvertently directed installation of shutters on the side of the house which ended up being too small for the windows. #MeasureTwiceInstallOnce.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

French Bulletin Board

After searching unsuccessfully for a "grownup" French bulletin board for my home office, I decided to create my own.  

Here's how:

- 11x14" Vintage wooden frame (I love how mine was "well-loved" in a few corners and already has a hanging hook on top)
- 1 sheet foam core
- 1/2 -5/8 yard fabric of your choice. Might be more depending on your pattern repeat.
- 1 container upholstery tacks
- Fishing line (if patterned fabric; otherwise, use your choice of ribbon, yarn, etc.)
- Staples, to stretch fabric over foam core (optional; I used tacks on the back instead to make it easier to wind the fishing line properly)

Varies.  I paid $1 for the frame at a thrift shop, about $3 for a sheet of foam core; just over $2 for the tacks, $4 for the fabric on clearance, and a few dollars for fishing line.  I have enough leftover fabric to sew a pillow cover.

- Measure inside dimensions of frame
- Cut 2 pieces of foam core to fit. (You want it thick enough that the upholstery tacks won't go through entirely. You also want the fit to be snug, but not tight, since the fabric and fishing line will add to the size.)
- Lay foam on top of fabric and cut fabric, leaving enough extra fabric to wrap around foam and affix.
- Wrap fabric tightly around foam core, being mindful of your pattern, if any.
- Staple or tack excess fabric to back.
- Flip over and add tacks to front as shown in photo.
- Wrap fishing line around tacks in front. Fasten loose ends on back.
- Insert fabric-wrapped foam core into frame.
- Hang  and enjoy!

Here's how mine looks in the room...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

How We Accidentally Became Collectors of African Art... in NH

While hitting the consignment shop circuit over the Fourth of July weekend, we stopped in a little place in Chichester, NH. Most of the consigned pieces were the dusty traditional/colonial/Victorian type genre that make L's skin itch. However, in the back of the store was a collection of museum-quality African and Central American art, at very reasonable prices.

L and D "cherry-picked " our favorite piece, then realized it was part of a set. Not wanting to breakup the set, we bought both:

On our way out of the store, one of the stores owners told us a fascinating story about how the pieces ended up in the shop. (We have no idea if the story is true, but if it is, L might push for some estate law reform.) According to the store employee, someone died intestate, after spending years in a nursing home. The person had no relatives, but a household of belongings in various storage units. Allegedly, the lawyer overseeing the estate hired a few kids to cart everything to the dump. The kids, hired by the hour and nearing the end of their shift, refused to stop loading their truck so that the someone else could check its contents. The story got a bit murky here, somehow involving Craigslist. At some point, the consignor acquired the items and brought them to Chichester. The store employee told us that some collectors of African art had been in to see the pieces and were expected back to pickup some up. We were told that the two statues we bought were the two most important pieces, that we had a "good eye," and that they dated to the 1930s or 1940s. D and I just happened to get there first.

As soon as D and L put the two statues they bought in our family room, we realized we wanted more. We went back to the shop as soon as it opened the next day and bought two more wooden statues. (The tall one is D's birthday gift to L.) It took a bit of convincing for L to agree to buy the one with the grass skirt, because it looked too much like the Tiki guy in the old 1970s Karen Black TV movie "Trilogy of Terror."

While we didn't take the entire collection, we hope the former owner would be happy that some of the pieces went to a home that appreciates them and will take good care of them.

Laundry Room Refresh, the Reveal

Here's lovely and tiny laundry room: Photos, top to bottom: View from the family room, with washer, dryer and shelves behind the "shower" curtain; toilet and sink; detail of painted shelves; sink detail.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Laundry Room; Shelves Up

Made from painted oak risers and Rubbermaid metal brackets.  Not much room for error when installing.  Bottom shelf height limited by metal pipes.  Top shelf height limited by ceiling.  Baskets bought months ago, Thank goodness it all fits. Grateful to hubby for finding the studs and knowing how to use a level.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Power of Persuasion

(Please excuse the back of the washing machine and the filthy carpet: this is in the middle of a renovation zone.)

Last night, I saw a Lowes commercial on HGTV where the stylist painted the inside of an entry door a cheery yellow. Today, I'm using up some leftover high-gloss "smiley-face yellow" paint on the entry from the garage.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Laundry Room: Tiling and Painting Done

Baseboards cut, but not installed yet. Plumber expected end of week.   We've been without a washer and dryer for a week now.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Moving Forward (Finally) on the Laundry Room Reno

More than three months after buying tile and hunting down tile guys to install it, the ugly vinyl flooring is out and the tile is down.  Tomorrow is Grouting Day.

I've also been busy painting the new baseboard:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Slow Moving on the Laundry Room Reno

Vanity on order; chose the countertop; waiting for tile guy to tell us his availability. Moved our attention outside for some spring cleanup.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Laundry Room Refresh Continues

Sample wall painted. New wooden art hung. Flower in corner. Tossed down a few tiles to preview what the finished floor will look like.

We ordered a Kohler Persuade toilet to match the one upstairs and I'm staining some shelves - made from pine stair treads and cut to length at the Big Orange Box Store - a blonde wood (not nearly as yellow as they look in the pic)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Laundry Room Refresh, Day 1

Here's what the laundry/ water heater room's looked like since we moved in...

And here's what it looks like after chair rail and baseboards removed, shelves, mirror, and bath hardware uninstalled, and two coats of primer added:

With any luck, the "tenement" look shouldn't last too long. After another coat or two of primer, I'll be painting the room the same color as the upstairs full bath and rehanging the hardware and artwork. After that, we'll be tiling the floor and replacing the sink and toilet. The hardest part so far is finding an 18 inch wide vanity that doesn't look really cheap: we may have to build or convert a piece of furniture to fit.

The washer and dryer still work well, so we're keeping them for now. Once they wear out, we'll add a stacking washer/dryer and configure some cabinet space around it.

3/17/15 UPDATE: We purchased some tile and are looking at using a bar sink, so we can go even smaller with the vanity. Unfortunately, the painting's behind schedule as I haven't been able to do the other two coats of primer yet.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Building Our Christmas Tree

For years, I've been fascinated by the decorated trees in a nearby florist shop. My efforts always seemed to miss the mark in one way or another, even though I knew most of the same tricks the pros use: wrap lights in and out of each branch, etc.

This year, we decided to go in a totally different direction: all the way to Bollywood! (And yes, I know that most Indians are Hindu or Buddhist.) The bright warm colors go great in our living room and it's a color scheme that can be lived with even after Christmas.

We started again with the artificial tree,

then added artificial flowers and decorations of all sizes. I got the "silk" flowers for 80% off at an end-of-the-season , because thought they were "fall" colors. The sunflowers with the sparkly center work great with the Indian theme, as does the Indian mercury glass balls in two sizes.

(For best results, sort your ornaments before hanging and then hang all of one kind of ornament at once, working your way all around the tree. Vary sizes and shapes. Don't forget the back of the tree, especially if it's what you see out the window.)

We even found a matching soft orange poinsettia at Wal-Mart!

Next year, I'll be working more at the top of the tree, adding branches and/or feathers. Other than that, we're hoping to enjoy this look for years to come.

Afghan for Guest Bedroom

Started in Dec. 2013 and put aside for nearly a year. I picked it up again in November 2013 and worked on it seemingly non-stop to get it ready for houseguests (who proceeded to let their ***dog*** sleep on it.)