Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Better Life

I've been using Better Life cleaning products to clean up the filthiest piece of furniture EVER which I rescued from bulky trash pickup.  These products are my favorite!  Green, safe, and awesome!  The company is local (St. Louis) but expanding quickly.  I'm not finished cleaning it yet, but there's a preview on the Better Life blog!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Dress a Day

I heard about New Dress a Day from a friend today and I love it!  Marisa has some mad repurposing skills and is on a year-long adventure to turn a thrift store dress a day into a piece of clothing she can add to her personal wardrobe.  Inspired by Julie&Julia but lacking a passion for pheasant, she has sworn off buying new clothes and is instead dedicating a year and $365 to adding 365 items of repurposed clothing to her collection.  Go Marisa!

Members Only jacket makeover

Blue dress with polka dots

Monday, June 28, 2010

Great Ideas

Beckie at Infarrantly Creative has a great idea for making an Uncrustables-type sandwich and using the leftover crusts to make croutons.  Love!  Actually she has lots of great ideas on her site, including Great Idea Days link parties.  Here is the link to the March party and there is another coming up on July 9th. I can't wait!
Also check out her "Roadkill Rescues" which are pieces rescued from the side of the road (or otherwise acquired for free) and given new life.

Friday, June 25, 2010

St. Louis Zoo

(For those living in or visiting the St. Louis area, here is the second installment of a small insider's list of the best free activities and events to take advantage of here in my hometown.  See the first installment here.  Please feel free to comment and add your favorite free St. Louis activities.  This is a great town for free fun!)

The St. Louis Zoo is such a big draw it almost seems redundant to talk about it...OK, let's talk about it!  Not only is it "America's #1 Zoo" according to Zagat Survey's U.S. Family Travel Guide, it's free!  It's also huge (see map) and you could easily spend the whole day there and not see everything.  Please see the Zoo website for detailed information for your visit.  These are just a couple of highlights and are really meant as a jumping-off point.

Enjoy the architecture of Historic Hill, the oldest part of the zoo, including the 1904 World's Fair Flight Cage.
Don't be surprised when a peacock struts alongside you, preening on the sidewalk.  Visit the beautiful Mediterranean style Herpetarium built in 1927.  

 Watching the Galapagos tortoises eat lunch is one of our favorite Zoo memories.

This is an especially great time to visit because the Zoo is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the formation of the St. Louis Zoological Society with a new (free) exhibit, Zootennial.  From the website: "The exhibit is located in Peabody Hall, a newly renovated exhibit gallery which was once the historic 1917 Elephant House next to the Bird House. With archived video, old photos, artifacts and fun interactive elements, the stunning Zootennial exhibit will reveal how the Zoo has changed in the past 100 years while its mission has remained the same." 

Jungle Boogie Friday Night Concert Series is from 5-8 p.m. Fridays through September 3rd.  It features an evening of free entertainment and activities for the whole family.  See link for schedules

Insider's tips:
Parking in the Zoo parking lot costs $11 per vehicle.  Plan to find a place to park nearby on the street for a truly free visit.  

The Children's Zoo normally costs $4 per person, the Stingrays at Caribbean Cove exhibit (They're back!  Now with horseshoe crabs!) is $3 and the Conservation Carousel is $3.  All three of these are free during the first hour the zoo is open (8-9 a.m. through September 6, 2010)  Beat the heat and get there early!

There are shows at the Children's Zoo daily except Wednesdays, starting at 10 a.m. (see info near the bottom of the page here) so if you can stretch out your early morning visit to the Children's Zoo, you could catch a show while you're there.  There is a nice playground in the Children's Zoo with a slide which takes you past a tank of river otters.  It's kind of a big deal.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

100 Decorating Ideas and a Dog Bed

Better Homes & Gardens publishes a magazine I love to ogle at Walgreens:100 Decorating Ideas Under $100.  The summer issue is out and it's available only in stores.

There is no information on  The best I can do is point you to the facebook page.  There are definitely some Mod Podge Rocks-inspired pieces in this issue! You can see some of the photos from the magazine on the facebook page, but not the one I want to show you.  They took a table like this

and removed the doors and the top, painted the whole thing white and put a dog cushion in it!  Who knew it would make such a sweet dog bed?  p.s. I own the table above.  I got it for $5 at Salvation Army.  I have seen similar tables at other thrift stores for $40.  Look:

The truth is, a relative of yours probably has one in their basement and would love for you to take it off their hands.  Do them and your dog a favor by making it into a dog bed!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Free Fun in St. Louis

We have been enjoying our summer with mostly free activities and I just have to share some of them.  For those living in or visiting the St. Louis area, here is the first installment of a small insider's list of the best free activities and events to take advantage of here in the Gateway City.  Please feel free to comment and add your favorite free St. Louis activities.  This is a great town for free fun!

The Missouri Botanical Garden offers the Whitaker Music Festival Wednesdays through August 4.  
The music begins at 7:30 p.m. and free admission starts at 5 p.m.  The Children’s Garden is open with free admission from 5 to 7 p.m.  Parking is free.  

Let's talk about this.  People keep telling me that they don't like going to the music festival because it's so crowded (it totally is) but do you have to have a lawn seat right in front of the stage?  I look at these music festival nights as a free time to enjoy an evening in the garden (which normally closes at 5 p.m.) and it is the only time you are allowed to picnic there.  You are welcome to bring your own picnic supper, baskets, or coolers. Picnic fare is also available for purchase on site.  If you have kids, take them over to the Children's Garden (interactive map here).  It is spectacular (and normally costs $5 per kid.)

Insider's tip: There is some serious picnicking going on here!  Some people bring lawn chairs and set up little tables with wine glasses, fruit and cheese plates and tea lights!  Feel free to do so or bring a blanket and a drive-thru meal.  You could come from 5 to 7, just to eat a picnic dinner and let your kids explore the Children's Garden for free.  Working late?  No problem, you are permitted to enter the Garden until 9 p.m. Enjoy!

(The Missouri Botanical Garden also offers free admission, including the Children's Garden to St. Louis City and County residents on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9a.m. to 12 p.m.  This includes admission to the Children's Garden!)
Malcolm Martin Memorial Park may be one of the area's best-kept secrets.  It is a green space directly across the Mississippi from the Arch.  According to the website: "Eero Saarinen, designer of the St. Louis Arch, originally included a park on both sides of the Mississippi River; decades later his vision has become a reality."  The park includes the Gateway Geyser, which erupts at 12, 3, 6 and 9 p.m daily, April-October.  It's over 600 feet tall (mirroring the height of the Arch) and is surrounded by 4 fountains that are 100 feet tall.  The eruption lasts approximately 15 minutes and is absolutely refreshing.  Majestic, even.  It is the tallest geyser in the US.  See the video here.  Also at the park is one of the best views available of the Arch.  The Mississippi River Overlook is a 40 foot tall platform which "offers visitors marvelous views of the park, both sides of the Mississippi River, and the St. Louis City Skyline."  

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I love this site!  Houzz has a vast collection of home design photos to inspire you.  So vast it could be overwhelming but it's not.  You can browse by style (Mediterranean, Modern, many more) by space (Bedroom, Media Room, Wine Cellar...wait, Wine Cellar?!) or Metro (Miami, Hong Kong, etc.)
Create a free account and start saving design photos into your Ideabook (or just browse others' Ideabooks!)
Below is a random Ideabook for your viewing pleasure!

Friday, June 18, 2010


Several months ago, my sister sent me a link to a post by Homebody Holly about a book we had read as children.  It's about a kitten named Peppermint who was born in a candy store.

Peppermint is a "soiled white kitten" who falls into a tub of bluing right before the cat show.

It turns out to be just what Peppermint needed to win first prize.

A good friend of mine was so touched when she saw this because it had been her favorite book as a child.  Right then I knew I wanted to make something Peppermint-y for her, but what?  The idea was in the back of my mind for a while (a necklace? a keychain?) and then I saw this poor wooden cat at the thrift store.  It was so ugly I was tempted to just pass it by:


After removing the "accessories" I painted the cat white and chose two scrapbooking papers to create Peppermint.

  I love the candy look of this one.

The other side:

Oh no!  Peppermint fell into a tub of bluing!

(Apparently I took this picture before I painted the thing!)

After painting, I Mod Podged the papers on and gave it to my Peppermint-loving friend for her birthday.

Note: I don't think people use bluing much anymore, but it is a laundry product used to make dingy or yellowed whites look white again.  According to Mrs. Stewart's Bluing: "Not only does it whiten whites, it also brightens colors and does so without harsh chemicals, prolonging the life of any garment. People are seeking environmentally safe products and they know that MSB is non-toxic and biodegradable."  In the Other Uses section, it is suggested that you can use bluing (diluted) to whiten the hair of a pet.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Library Bag

Another follow up to my Preserving and Repurposing T-Shirts post:
  I got this shirt for 99 cents at Family Thrift.  It's a child's large 
and I thought it would make a good throw pillow, maybe for the boy's room.

But then I thought it would make a good bag for library books, although being a child's shirt it isn't super roomy.  Plus if I change my mind later I can still make a little throw pillow out of it.  I sewed a French seam in the bottom of the shirt, which is just a fancy way of saying that I sewed the bottom together while the shirt was still right side out. This assures that you don't have unfinished edges after you sew it together.  Then I sewed the bottom seam right sides together.  Since t-shirt fabric doesn't fray all you have to do is cut off the collar and sleeves to make a bag opening.   

What do you think?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

You Can Paint Upholstery?

This is what I learned from Cassie of Primitive & Proper as guest contributor on The Frugal Designer (now called The Design Confidential):  Yes, you can paint upholstery by mixing one part paint with two parts textile medium and painting it right onto the fabric.  This is awesome news for pieces that are in great condition but need a color adjustment!

For details and to see the beautiful after pictures of this unique and uniquely-painted bed, click here.  So impressive!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Custom Chalkboard Colors

Painting surfaces with chalkboard paint is a popular way to repurpose an old picture frame or even an old cabinet door.

I have been thinking of making the door of an old spice rack into a chalkboard but I have been hesitant to bring that dark color into my sherbet colored kitchen.  Enter Martha Stewart's recipe for custom chalkboard paint!  It's made by mixing  flat-finish latex paint with unsanded tile grout.  See the article and recipe here.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Repurpose Frames with Radiator Grill


I have found two great ideas for using radiator grill to make an old frame into something new.  The first is a jewelry organizer from Lost Button Studio.

The second is this idea from Brooklyn Limestone for a mail center.  Go see it!

love the cloverleaf pattern.

I had a hard time finding information about radiator grill.  The comments that I read indicated that you had to get it at Lowe's and that the people at Home Depot wouldn't know what you were talking about but I found the opposite to be true.  (I got mine at the Home Depot on Kingshighway.  It is 36"x36" and cost around $30.)  It is aluminum so see Brooklyn Limestone's little hack for using the bulldog magnets if you are making a mail center.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Anthropologie Inspired Pendant

Ashley Ann is a photographer who takes amazing photos.  She also appears to be an extraordinary creative spirit in everything else she does as well.  I am linking to a pendant light she made out of a wire basket, inspired by Anthropologie (so much to love! so expensive!) but you must also check out the rest of her blog, including (but not limited to) her DIY Projects.

Inspiration from Anthropologie

Ashley Ann's light

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Einstein on a Bike

My favorite thrift store find right now is a poster of Einstein riding a bike.  I found it rolled up on a shelf at Goodwill without a price on it.  Instant love.  They marked it at $2 and I brought it home where it sat for months.  The other day as I was putting together the boy's room (reclaiming it from the toy storage area it had become) it occurred to me that this would be the right place for it, especially since the boy just learned how to ride his bike:

I love how whimsical the idea of Einstein riding a bike seems but I suspect there was nothing whimsical about it.  Regarding the theory of relativity he is reported to have said, "I thought of that while riding my bicycle."

Next I want to paint the room something a little bolder.  Everything else you see here is originally from Ikea.  The "nightstand" is actually one of the TRONES shoe storage cabinets.
It's perfect for holding a few bedside items in a small space.  The duvet and pillowcase were purchased new for $10!  Alas, there is no Ikea here in St. Louis.  We used to live near an Ikea and I trolled craigslist for the abundance of Ikea goods.  That's how I found the bed.  If you don't live in an Ikea town but are making a pilgrimage to one, it's definitely worth your while to check the craigslist there.

Go ride your bike.  That's where the magic happens.  

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunburst Mirror

Wow, this is beautiful.  Can you believe that Stephanie Lynn at Under the Table and Dreaming made it with cereal boxes?  She has a wonderfully thorough tutorial.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I have really started to get interested in textiles again and was delighted to find out about Spoonflower.  They will  print fabric from a digital photograph, a scan of some artwork, or a design created in photoshop or illustrator.  It's not just for professionals.  Apparently anyone can design fabric.  If you don't have Photoshop, they have links to some free programs that can be used to create images.  You can opt to keep the images you upload private but there are lots of customer designed images that are for sale if you are looking for something different and don't feel like creating your own.  There are so many to chose from in the shop.  Here are just a few:  

fruit and veggie madness

Alice Vintage Text and Toile (black and white)


When I worked in a fabric store about 15 years ago it was almost impossible to find any fabric that was unusual.  It was even rare to find fabric to match the picture on a pattern envelope.  So I am particularly excited about Spoonflower!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How it Comes Together

Does furniture speak to me?  Or would you just call it inspiration?  Sometimes I just know what to do with a piece (though usually not instantly).  Here's an example of how it goes down.  On Tuesday I went to the thrift store and saw this table:

I loved the lines but I was in a hurry and didn't take the time to really sit with the possibilities.  I left and drove maybe 5 miles before I thought YELLOW.  Now, I'm not a yellow person.  I don't even own any yellow.  But it was definitely this yellow that popped in my head:

I had a mission.  I turned right around and headed back to the store.  Whew!  It was still there!  As I was on my way to the cash register I saw this vintage fabric that had not been out 10 minutes before:


Hmm...looks like I may have a Mod Podge project on my hands.  The table and the fabric together set me back about $10.

Oh, and I was in such a rush to buy the table once it "spoke" that I didn't even see that it was missing a drawer.

No matter!  I think I may know just what to do.  

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Meal Planning Magnets

Today from The Red Chair Blog:  a great way to reuse junk mail magnets (those advertising pharmacies, pizza delivery, etc.) that will help you figure out what's for dinner.  The tutorial includes a free printable PDF.

I love this idea!  I don't know if I love it more because I am a visual person or because I would most likely lose a menu plan if it wasn't stuck to the fridge, but I love it!



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