Great Room & Bookshelves

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Behold the Great Room. Why do we call it this? Because that’s what it was listed as when we bought it. So, why not? Don’t be hating on my oak room. Ok, go ahead. When I said I was going to paint this room several people groaned. Listen, it wasn’t even pretty oak. It was just ugly and made me feel like I was suffocating. So, we sprayed it White Dove by Benjamin Moore. We put granite flooring in the kitchen area and installed a new black granite countertop from Majestic Stone Imports. Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I love Majestic Stone Imports. They did every counter in my house and the amazing kitchen counters in the home we flipped.

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I went to a friend’s house and glanced at her bookshelves and thought “Hmmm. I just put books in mine.” Then I went home and WOW, not just books. Boardgames, random papers, my cello bow, rosin, tuner, the Twister vinyl thingy was wadded up and stuffed in there…etc. I didn’t even have that many books up there. Several years ago I did a book purge. I hate giving away books but we had WAY too many. Book stores entertained me and my kids for many hours when I was single.

Moving on.

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I got some things at Goodwill and a few things at Hobby Lobby as well for my cupboards. It is really hard to find white ceramic vases in the sizes I want so I ended up priming and painting glass vases along with my red wooden ones.

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I gilded a vase and a couple of other items as well. I put it all together with some books and really love the  way my bookshelves look now.



Goodwill + Hobby Lobby + stuff from my cupboards = Less than $50. And look, the Twister vinyl is gone!



Goodwill and Cheap-o Finds

Ok. I went to Goodwill with Lucy looking for knick-knacks for my bookshelves and coffee tables and I totally scored!

I found this green glass dragon and almost died from joy. When I went to the register to pay for my dragon, the teenagers working it said “OH MY GOSH! You’re really going to get that? We laughed so hard when we saw it! What a piece of junk!” I just smiled and said, “That’s what you see.” And as typical teenagers, they sneered and rolled their eyes.

BUT….Here is the Jonathan Adler white ceramic dragon that inspired me.

ceramic-dragon  This little gem will set you back $350.

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The first dragon above is $88.99 from and the second dragon is on sale for $74.10 at

After one coat of primer and two coats of high gloss white, my $4.99 Goodwill dragon is awesome!


2014 was a huge year for blue and white home decor and still is!

blue and white house beautiful Norway Photo from House Beautiful.  Some places charge ridiculous amounts of money for blue and white vases and jars but I found mine at Goodwill for $4.99 & $9.99.

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I purchased several glass vases and frames from Goodwill for $.99 to $2 each to redo and decided to redo some things I had hiding in my cupboards that I didn’t use anymore.


Last, but not least, I found white statue busts of a boy and girl. Er, white-ish…more white turned dirty cream color.

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The above statues can be found on ranging from $47 to $125. And yes, they are all three the same. The last photo is how they originally looked before painted as the first and second photos were. No, the $125 ones were not the original ones.

I found my Goodwill ones, the EXACT same ones on Etsy, on half-off black sticker week so mine were $2 for both.

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After trying to clean the yuck off of them, I finally just painted them.

It really does takes some imagination and elbow grease to see what Goodwill stuff could be. My suggestion is to look at photos on or Pinterest to get ideas of the looks you like and then walk around your Goodwill with an open mind, maybe seeing how things could be adjusted to fit the look you want.

Tomorrow I will post the “after” photos of my bookshelves. I am very happy with them!


I love lake life!

Outdoor Fire Pit

Our deck in the home that we currently live in is very large. Large, as in, when we had it painted, the painter came back to us mid-deck and tried to renegotiate the agreed on price because, as he said, “Your deck turns out to be a lot bigger than it looks.” Huh? Sixty three gallons of paint. The most the painter has ever used on a deck in his thirty years of business.


Here is the before and after photos. There will be another “after” when we are done with redoing some of the back yard. We whacked the rickety stairs leading to the dock and…well, and that’s another post.

We decided that we had enough deck to build a fire pit right on the deck. Okay, Dave decided it was a good idea because I would NEVER dream up a plan to build a fire pit that spits out flames ON my UPPER WOODEN deck. I couldn’t picture his plan. Thoughts of a gigantic burnt out hole where a fire pit fell through the wood always appeared in my mind. However, almost every time I say “Hey, Sparky, I have this great house idea about doing….” he says “I don’t see it.” and he may or may not challenge me on it and resist it. Every single one of those times he has come back to say “Wow, I couldn’t see it but you were right!” So, I give him the benefit of the doubt when he has ideas, too.

So, it began. Right off I want to state that maybe, MAYBE Dave and I would build a fire pit ourselves IF it was ground level and wood burning. (That one will be in the new backyard post, later.) However, we would NEVER try to build one like this on our own and I would never suggest you try it yourself, either. We had one of our subcontractors, Pete, who is a professional mason with over fifty years experience, build the fire pit. Pete is a miracle worker with stone, brick and anything involving masonry. Here we go. A hole was cut in the deck the size of the fire pit. The four corners of the soon-to-be fire pit were laid and fortified with mortared cinderblock towers from the ground up resting on a concrete footer.  Then, the base of the fireplace was made with 48″ concrete lintels.


Now you have got your super structure. From there, typical fireplace fire brick was used to create an inside shell of the first pit.

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Then, the exterior was wrapped with left over brick from the original house construction. The structure of the fire pit was then finished with limestone caps.


FYI, the outside wall the fire pit bumps up against is a chimney. After we painted it to match the house, the gas line was next. Because gas can be deadly, I HIGHLY recommend using a professional when working with gas lines. We WILL NOT use anyone but a licensed professional when working with gas. We had another of our subcontractors, Brian Parsley from Parsley Plumbing, run a gas line and install the gas burners inside the fire pit. We then laid lava rock on top of the gas burners and topped it with blue and white reflective fire glass.

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When the weather started to turn chilly, we sat outside around the fire pit almost every night. Our fire pit is awesome, especially with the view.


I love Lake Life!

Need It, Want It

Have you ever searched for that perfect ___________(insert clothing item that haunts you in your sleep) only to have it allude you whenever you look for it? You might find a similar one, but it’s shorter or it has weird sleeves, or it’s the wrong color. Well, one day I was watching Netflix and saw Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 (no longer on Netflix) and Krysten Ritter, who plays Chloe, comes into the apartment wearing the MOST PERFECT red, pleated skirt I had ever seen. I became obsessed.

After a fruitless search because either every place was sold out or way too expense, I sent my daughters a photo of the illusive skirt and asked them to keep an eye out for it. A year passed, A YEAR, and I found a skirt at a store that was awesome, but not MY skirt. I wore it and loved it but I still looked for the pleated red skirt. Then, last month, as I was looking through the clothes on Chick Wish I found it. I was so excited, I immediately grabbed my credit card and ordered it. AND IT WAS ON SALE!

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This winter, I have worn it with a long black sleeved teeshirt. This summer, I will wear it with a white short sleeved tee or with a chambray shirt. I am planning on wearing it for Valentines day! It works year round. I love this skirt so, so much!

Seriously, I am obsessed with all the cute skirts on Chick Wish.

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These three are my next purchase and they are on sale! I love the spring colors!

Now, I need to find the right heels to go with these cute spring skirts!


How to Gild

Have I mentioned how much I love Craigslist and Goodwill? I have a frequent buyers card for Goodwill. People give away or sell awesome things and I am super happy they do because I benefit!

On my last trip to Goodwill, I found some awesome frames. The pictures in them…not so much.

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I decided to take them home and gild them using gold leaf.

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There are a lot of different brands of gold leaf. I like to use Mona Lisa Gold leaf. You can buy it at Hobby Lobby or United Art and Education. There are 25 sheets in the package. gold leaf13 gold leaf12


You need to brush an adhesive on the object you are going to use the gold leaf on. I use the Mona Lisa sizing which is located right next to the gold leaf.


Many people paint a base coat underneath to show through the cracks. Red is a popular base color. I did not want to use a base color for my frames, however.

After cleaning the frames, I brushed the adhesive onto them, making sure it did not pool or it would not dry for a long time. It has to dry for about 20 to 30 minutes.

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When it dries it is transparent and glossy. I carefully placed the sheets on the frames, one by one, patting them down with a foam stamper-thing I happened to have…although I don’t know what it’s real use is or where it came from, it worked. I usually use and recommend a soft, dry paint brush.

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In the last two photos you can see that there are cracks in the gold leafing. This happened because I was working on a frame with ridges. Flat surfaces will not crack like that and are a lot easier to work on.

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Once I use the gold leafed on the entire frame, I use a smaller paint brush to brush more adhesive into the cracks and then tore pieces of gold leaf to fill in the cracks. You can also use the gold flecks you will inevitably have left over.


When I was done, I waited about an hour until everything was dry.

Then, using a clean, dry paint brush, I brushed the frame to get off all loose gold leaf flecks. You want to make sure all the flecks of extra gold are off what you are gilding before you use the polyurethane.


I use Minwax Wipe-On Poly clear satin which I buy at Lowes. Using a clean cloth I wiped the Minwax on the frames and waited for them to dry.

I love The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and last time we stayed, we discovered they had an outlet store. I purchased several menus and other things I planned to frame someday. PLUS, Dave gave me this beautiful gilée of the Grand Hotel for Christmas and I wanted to frame these to match.

And, Voila!

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Here are the before and after photos.

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I plan to hang them soon!

There are many things you can gild and you do not have use gold.

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Several years ago, I got this bureau on Craigslist for $25. It was a really ugly red-brown color. The top is granite and it is SUPER heavy! I took it home, bought acrylic knobs at Hobby Lobby and then used silver leaf to gild it. It is one of my  favorite pieces of furniture.


I bought this buffet on Craigslist for super cheap. I bought the same knobs and used silver leaf to gild it. I sold it on Craigslist for double what I bought it for.

I hope you try to gild something. It will scare you and it will probably not look like what you hoped it had at first. Keep trying. The first item I tried to gild I ended up redoing many times, so don’t choose something you really love or something super expensive to gild the first time.

Hope you enjoyed it!