Category Archives: How To

Candle Remake Again

Candle Remake Again

My love affair with candles continues. The other day, I was in the mood for vanilla soy, not the beverage;  rather, the sweet essence of a vanilla soy candle permeating through the air. But I was all out. I had exhausted my supply.


Instead of heading out to the store, I knew I was long overdue for another candle remake as I did here using all  the candle remnants I acquired over the last few months.

leftover candle remnants


When I did my last candle remake, I realized I used the wrong wick resulting in a tunnel burn down the center.

The type of wick matters and although a tunnel burn is good for certain types of candles, it’s not the desired outcome for a jar candle. Fortunately,  I  had purchased  this wood variety  on my last visit to Michaels; they are  especially made for jar candles.


wood candle wick


The “how to ” instructions on how to reuse your candle remnants can be found here.


Now I have many more candle burning present moments ahead of  me to enjoy. It’s a reminder to appreciate the simpler side of everyday life.
candle remake
Do you share my candle love? Have a favorite candle aroma?

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Dining Room Table Part 2

Dining Room Table Part 2

I finally finished the dining room table I started a few weeks back.

Dining room table IMG_0473

This is how it looked when I spotted it in a thrift store.

Thrift store dining room table


I took my time experimenting with this table. I didn’t want a solid painted surface and wanted some of the wood grain to be visible yet I wanted the parquet tiling to disappear.

dining room table paint experimenting

I tried various colors of  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and then lightly sanding it but the parquet detail just didn’t want to go away.

So I thought I would try a wood graining tool to create a faux wood grain instead.

Dining room table IMG_0168

Annie Sloan paired with a  wood graining tool? Unconventional? What can I say? I’m just an unconventional kind of girl! LOL

I used  Annie Sloan Old White and a thin layer of Paris Gray, followed by subtle distressing and a few coats of clear wax, Finally, I achieved the look I had envisioned.

Dining room table IMG_0473

I cleared everything out of the dining room and moved it in from the garage..

Dining room table IMG_0465

An easy task since it meant relocating one piece of furniture,  the sideboard.

I just wanted to start from scratch,

Dining room table IMG_0463

like the empty frame hanging on the wall. Rather symbolic, wouldn’t you say? Now I have two blank canvases to fill and layer slowly and thoughtfully over time. I think it’s obvious what’s top on my list? Yes, the 70′s or is it *80′s ceiling fan.

dining room table blank canvas IMG_0469

Having gone chandelier shopping too many times,  purchasing a vintage chandelier on impulse and later falling out of love with it,  I think I finally found “the one”. Anxious for it to arrive from World Market.

Until then, I’m enjoying my unconventional Annie Sloan Chalk Paint finish.

Dining room table IMG_0473

I hope you do too. What do you think?



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Natural Dyes and Paints

Natural Dyes and Paints

I took a natural dyeing class at the Museum of Arts and Design. It was a fun experience and I was so glad I attended. I am always drawn to the natural approach to any process and the avoidance of chemicals whenever possible so this class was right up my alley. The Fall 2014 issue of my favorite magazine,  Do It Yourself,  had a whole section on natural dyeing and  this class was a great opportunity to learn even more. The instructor, Isa Rodrigues, is an artist in residence at the museum and  is the Adult Programs Director at  the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn. The actual process is simple and requires very little  in terms of supplies. Large pots, strainer and  bowls, containers, mordants and various plant materials. Mordants act as a bridge between the fiber and the dye. natural dye materials 9997 The plant materials are shredded into the pots to which water is added.   flower petals 0011a This mixture is heated and turned off before it reaches a boiling temperature. flower petals in water  0015 The plant material is strained from the liquid to which the mordant treated fabric is placed into the strained liquid. classmates 0035 The mixture  is being stirred gently to ensure even coverage.  After a half hour and a great question and answer exchange with the instructor, the dyed swatches  that looked like this. natural dye swatches 0037 The cotton and silk  fabrics received the dye differently; the silk resulted in a more brilliant color while the cotton swatches had a more dull and muted appearance. Here is the dye process using pokeberries. Although toxic to humans if ingested, it appears to have medicinal qualities when cooked. pokeberry tryptic 505x189 What  I love about this process is that it is highly experimental and the results aren’t always predictable. It requires a trial and error approach and is sure to take full advantage of one’s creative abilities. By the way,  you can also make natural paints as well. I attended a free class hosted by The Textile Arts Center. Here is my swatch card from the class. The same paint was used on both sides; however, the right side was primed with Gesso.  It was very informative, as well, and it opened up a new set of creative doors for me. natural paint swatch 001 What do you think? Do your find natural dyes and paints intriguing? Have you tried either one before?

Stamped Throw Pillow

Stamped Throw Pillow

black pillow IMG_9123

Truly, it is a manifestation of a creative idea that swirled around my head, far too long. A few months ago, after five years of marinating the idea, I decided to throw (no pun intended) caution to the wind and design and manufacture art stamps that can be mixed and matched to achieve the user’s personal design aesthetic.

paper and stamps IMG_9106

First, I experimented on paper, deciding what color and which stamps to use.

pillow with stamps IMG_9142 ver 2

Then, I move on to the surface of choice, in this case, pre-washed black linen fabric. For this pillow and the design below, I used stamps from Flower Power. I stamped twice rotating the stamp ever so slightly, to achieve a multi-layered design using a Versacraft White stamp pad.

fabric and stamp IMG_9125 rev
For this next design, I used two different size circles from Full Circle Moments on white linen.

tone on tone circles IMG_9087
I used Versacraft Sand and Memento Expresso Truffle stamp pads to get a varying tone on tone pattern. It’s fun experimenting with all the different colors available at Art Stamps and More.

However, for now, I’m just gushing over my throw pillow using the art stamps of my dreams.

black pillow IMG_9123

What do you think? I would love to know your thoughts and that you stopped by.

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It Takes Two Baby!

It Takes Two Baby!

It takes two, baby, it takes two, baby
Me and you, just take two
It takes two, baby, it takes two, baby
To make a dream come true, just take two

The “me” and you” is me and my sister and the dream, is two gallery walls. This song from very long ago popped into my head while we were styling living room gallery walls first at my mother’s apartment and, then, at my home. Care to have a listen?


Her pictures hadn’t made their way back on the walls since she moved into her new apartment and my living room was waiting to be redressed after painting. Speaking of painting, still not done! I just completed painting the trim in the office. Mr. DIY and I decided to go on a brief hiatus. Hoping to get to the dining room and kitchen done before the end of the summer, fingers crossed.

Anyway, I think a partner is a must when styling a gallery wall. It’s so much easier when you have someone to bounce ideas off of and provide a second set of eyes and hands.
For my mother’s wall, we just laid everything out on the floor first and then took a pic with my my phone for reference. We tweaked it as we went along so it ended up a little different then our initial layout.

gallery wall mom IMG_8822

For my wall, I got inspiration from Pinterest and Houzz, to identify gallery walls I liked. Next, I pulled out all the frames I had, even taking them down from my dining room wall to come up with various options. We arranged and rearranged,again, on the floor, until I was pleased with the arrangement. In order to not get distracted by the busy rug pattern I covered it with an old shower curtain similar to wall color to get a better idea of how it would actually look.

gallery wall layout floor_8807

This time, however, I made a paper template to make the hanging process a little easier.

gallery wall template IMG_8846

And here is my wall that will always be a work in progress.

gallery wall completed IMG_8948

The beauty of a gallery walls are that they can be easily changed.

gallery wall completed ver 2 IMG_8956

And stagnant decor is no fun.

gallery wall completed ver 3 IMG_8984

Next, I have to decide what, if anything, to fill some or all of the empty frames, starting with the lower black frame that came with it’s own print that I have yet to remove.

gallery wall close up IMG_8950

Quite honestly, I have a thing for empty frames, so I will take my time filling them as I continue to tweak, edit and change this arrangement. But, for now, I’m happy with how it turned out.

gallery wall ver 1 IMG_8948

How do you feel about gallery walls? Do you prefer matching frames lined up and evenly spaced or an eclectic mix of frames that looks like it was arranged over time?

Candle Remnants

Candle Remnants

I love candles. They make me relax and elevate my mood especially when the days are short and the weather is cold and dreary. You can read about the beginning of my love affair with candles here. However, what I dislike about candles are the remnants significant unused portion that gets discarded.

candle remnants IMG_8063

However, desperation inspired me to find a way to use the meaningful remnants that remain. You see, I had purchased a Citrus Vanilla candle by Essential Elements. When the candle could no longer burn, I was disappointed that this scent had been discontinued from their line:(

I decided to use the candle wax remnants to make a new candle, a little version of it’s former self.

candle citrus vanilla IMG_5230

It’s so easy to do. Here’s what you need for this project.

Small jar
Purchased wicks (available in different lengths)
Cheese cloth or guaze

1. Decide what jar you are going to use for your new mini candle. I re-purposed a small food jar for the one above and used a small mason jar for this tutorial. Adhere the wick to the bottom of the jar using a dab of hot glue.

candle wick IMG_8080

2. Scoop out the remnants from the jar. Using a dinner knife, cut it into sections, then run it around the perimeter. Most of the time, it will pop out very easily.

candle remnant sectioned IMG_8068

3. Separate the wick base from the wax using the knife. Don’t worry if your wax is charred or contains soot. It will be filtered out in step 5.

candle wax separated IMG_8076

4. Place the chunks into a jar and place in a pot of water. Bring water to a slow simmer and wait for wax to melt.

candle wax melting IMG_8092

5. Place the cheesecloth or guaze over the jar

candle jar with guaze IMG_8094

and pour wax into the jar.

candle pouring wax IMG_8096

This will filter out all the soot residue.

candle soot residue IMG_8100

It will set up in minutes.

candle setting up IMG_8104

I had enough to make a second one using one of the original jars.

candle small  setting up IMG_8108

That’s it! Wasn’t that easy? A brand new candle made from candle remnants that would, otherwise, have been thrown away. I like that!

candle finsihed IMG_8109

What do you think? Doable project? Do you have a favorite candle scent?

Final Notes: I would stay away from mixing scents or at least be careful when doing so. You don’t want to end up with a “not so great” smelling candle. I am a vanilla person so I was able to combine all my vanilla candle remnants together.

And I dislike having to end on a frightening note but I have to include candle safety suggestions taken from the UL’s website because I care about your safety.

“Keep an eye on burning candles.
Place candles out of the reach of children and pets.
Extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
Don’t place candles near curtains, bedding, paper, walls or any combustible materials.
Use a sturdy, non-combustible candleholder that can collect drippings and won’t tip over.
Extinguish a candle when 2 inches of wax remains or a half-inch if the candle is in a container. This prevents heat damage to the surface and stops glass containers from breaking.
Always keep candles – as well as matches and lighters – out of the reach of children.”

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Dresser Recovery

Dresser Recovery

What a difference a day makes! No more blue madness! After soliciting suggestions, I considered painting the room a more neutral color but then I caught myself. I rather redo a piece of furniture then paint walls. I painted the dresser black and it looks so much better with the blue walls.

One day my dresser was suffering the blues

And the next day it looked like this

I used black milk paint, stenciled the numbers using Paris Gray chalk paint and added new hardware.

I still have to drill new holes on drawer no. 1 for knobs. I haven’t reattached the lower trim piece. I might alter it some more or use a straight piece of trim instead. Not sure just yet.

But it has come a long way

I’m so glad it’s no longer blue:)

And I am no longer in over my head:)

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Simple Living

Simple Living

I love simple green solutions, so when I stumble upon them in blog land, I’m elated. You see, I love baking soda and vinegar. Okay I’m weird. I admit it. I use both for the bulk of my household cleaning and laundry. I love the clean fresh non chemical scent they give to freshly laundered clothes when I use baking soda and scent free laundry detergent in the wash cycle and vinegar in the rinse cycle.

Recently, I discovered this baking soda based air freshener by Smashed Peas and Carrots:

Neat idea! I’m definitely going to give this a try.

And then I discovered a baby oil remedy for removing labels over at Krafty Kat.

I reuse plastic containers and glass jars to store and organize my craft supplies and I have such a hard time removing the labels.

I have Goo Be Gone but dislike the strong chemical formula so this green alternative is definitely for me.

I challenge myself to go green whenever I can using the products pictured below:


Discovering a new green application or tip is a return to basics and simple living; I like that:)

Do you have simple green ideas you like to use?

Terrariums, of Course!

Terrariums, of Course!

No. 2 son graduated from fifth grade and will be off to middle school in the fall. I thought it would be nice to give parting gifts to each of the teachers he had from kindergarten through 5th grade. After weeks of brainstorming and second guessing all my ideas, one day I was in Barnes and Nobles browsing through magazines and came across a beautiful terrarium. Immediately, I thought, that’s it!

I used different containers so that each would have it’s own unique personality. I found most of these glass containers at one of my favorite thrift stores.

I read up on the right plants to use and how to plant them.

The basic ingredients are charcoal (available at pet stores), pebbles, potting soil and moss; however, there was a lot of variation in the order of layers and the use of charcoal.

Closed terrariums definitely need the charcoal due to the humidity levels.

This, by far, is my favorite one. I love it’s crock pot like shape. Actually, I kept it for myself and I made another one in it’s place.

I separated two plants to make all seven. We gave one to the principal too. We received a thank you card in the mail and she says it’s thriving.

I didn’t have the same luck with the one I kept, but that’s another story. My vegetable garden isn’t doing too well either. I wonder if it’s some sort of sign? Or, can I blame it on the intensely hot summer we’re having? I digressed, I know.

Seriously, I do love how these mini terrariums turned out and I thought they made nice end-of-year gifts for his former teachers and principal.

And an excerpt from their card, “…May this plant be a symbol of the growing knowledge, inspiration and wisdom you strive to impart on all your students, past and present… ”

And even if they don’t thrive, I wanted them to know that our family valued their work and they made a significant mark in No. 2 son’s life.

“What a teacher writes on the blackboard of life can never be erased.” (Author Unknown)
What do you think? Do you have a favorite gift idea? A favorite teacher who you adored or made a real difference in your life?

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Potholders, Potholders, Glorious Potholders!

Potholders, Potholders, Glorious Potholders!

I’ve been having had a difficult time finding potholders that work for me. They’re just too stiff. Either the fabric layers are too thick or the rubberized layer interferes with my gripability ability to get a good grip on hot pots. So I thought I would just make some for myself and decided to poke around for some inspiration first.

I love the vintage/retro appeal of this first design. I found it at Lark Crafts and is an exerted from the book, Stash Happy Patchwork. It’s amazing how a bunch of fabric scraps can look so lovely!

How about this two handed quilted design by Jessica over at A Little Gray.

She has a great tutorial if you would like to try one for yourself.

Or this easy design perfect for the novice sewer. It was featured on Design Sponge’s DIY Wednesdays.


Now my knitting skills are really limited but this cable knit potholder I found on Katy Elliot makes me want to change that. Isn’t it beautiful?

How do you feel about loops? You might remember this from summer camp or elementary school?


DIY potholders are definitely in my future, now that I have my inspiration; I hope I have inspired you as well. And if you decide to make some, be sure and use cotton fabric and yarn and a heat resistant inside layer as synthetic fibers burn easily. Happy sewing, knitting, crocheting or looping, whichever way you decide to go to potholder heaven!