Sunday, December 30, 2012

Time For Creativity

I am loving winter break.

I don't know how it happened, but we ended up with nearly 3 weeks off.

The first week was for vacation.

The second week was for cleaning and reorganizing.

But, today is the beginning of a week that is all mine.

After a long walk on the beach this morning, we came home to

a clean house,

no laundry to do,

all the Christmas decorations put away,

and nothing urgent to be done.

Steve headed off to the meat market to choose something for dinner.

I headed to "the" studio.

I designate it as "the" instead of "Steve's" because I now I have my own little corner to work.

I really like this basket I saw last summer at one of my favorite antique stores, American Home and Garden.

My plan was to stencil numbers on these baskets.

I couldn't find any stencils so I thought about printing out numbers and creating my own stencils.

Walking to the computer, I passed my Ikea Expedit and realized I had zinc number stencils.

I ordered these on-line, but can't remember the source.  

I have had them for several years and only used the 8 on a bottle.

I figured that I could wash the paint off the zinc so I got out white paint, but when I set the stencil on the basket, I liked how it looked.

The project became a whole lot easier and was finished rapidly.

I simply tied the numbers onto the baskets - no paint, no spills, no clean up.

I was finished in less time that it took Steve to do the grocery shopping.

It was nice to get a little time for creativity.


I am linked up at

Bliss Ranch - Cowgirl Up Party

Between Naps on the Porch - Metamorphosis Monday

Twigg Studios - Sunday Show Off Linky Party

Alderberry Hill - Make the Scene Monday

Under the Table and Dreaming - Sunday Showcase Party

Boogieboard Cottage - Masterpiece Monday

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Accomplishments

I have been housebound today - taking care of an ill husband and hiding out from rain and wind.

As I looked at numerous blogs today, I found many "2012 in Review" posts and got to thinking about what I have accomplished this year.

I started blogging in mid January of 2012 and I attribute my productivity to blogging.

Seeing what everyone else is doing inspires my creativity.

Also, if I want to have something to write about, then I need to be creating, tweaking, moving, reorganizing...

Here are my Top Five Projects of 2012.

#5 Painted Cabinet

I wrote about this cabinet first in the post Controlling the Clutter


And, in the post Accentuate the Positive when I painted it white.

It isn't finished.  

It is "too white" and I want to paint it blue, then green, then yellow or red.

And then back to white.

That way when I sand it, all the other colors will pop through.

But, I can live with it for now.

#4 Green Bench

I wrote about the bench in a post Red . . . Yellow . . . Green.

A year ago I had no idea what Annie Sloan Chalk Paint was.

Now, I am in love with it.

#3 A Place To Work

I wrote about creating this little corner for myself in Steve's studio in the post Creative Space

I was sure creating a little nook in his studio where I could leave things out and not worry about the appearance would make me more productive.

Didn't happen.

Now that Christmas is over, maybe I will get some free time.

#2 Hand Painted Pillows

I wrote about 2 of the pillows in Using Up the Leftovers and the others in Pillow Talk.

Making pillows is nothing new for me.

When my kids were little and I wasn't working outside of the house, I sewed for a decorator.

What made the pillows an accomplishment was that I hand painted them and I am thinking of creating more for sale.

Did I just put that in writing?

I have been thinking about it for awhile so putting it out in blogland might help me follow through.

#1 New Slipcovers

Making new slipcovers was my Decorating Resolution for 2012.

I wrote about making the slipcovers project in the posts Factory Open Tomorrow at 8:00 and The Factory  Is Closed!

Going from floral to white slipcovers made a big impact on the appearance of our living room.

I'm not done though.

I like the buffalo check pillows, but I really want to find a floral that has red, green, yellow and blue.

I know exactly what I am looking for, but I am having little luck.

Hopefully finding the right fabric for pillows will be an accomplishment in 2013.

I am looking forward to lots more projects in the new year:

finishing the white cabinet

painting some little stools

painting our bedroom dresser 

changing the bookcases in our bedroom

fixing up my little laundry area

making some big changes in the garden

These are just a few of the things on my list.

I know every time I look at a blog I will get inspired and look forward to getting ideas from everyone else.


I am linked up at

It's Overflowing - Overflowing With Creativity

Funky Junk Interiors - Your Best DIYs of 2012

Southern Hospitality - Top DIY Projects of 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's Time For A New Mantel

The first thing I did when I got back from vacation was to take down my Christmas mantel and work on a New Year's mantel.

I spent all day yesterday cleaning, moving things and moving them again.

I wanted to use clocks on the mantel, but I only have 1 real clock, a little clock plate and a clock face I made from a cd.

I put the mantel together, but something was missing.

I was shopping today for some gifts for my sister and found this great little clock at one of my favorite shops.

Had I planned to go out shopping specifically for a clock, I would never have found one so I couldn't believe my luck.

Afterwards, I decided there was enough time for a quick trip to TJ Maxx.  

I couldn't believe that my luck was holding out.

I found this clock and grabbed it.

I looked around to see what other needless things I could pick up.

I found these wooden letter/number blocks and the giant key on a ring.

I will definitely use the blocks in a vignette.

I have no idea what I will do with the key, but I love the color and whenever I debate on an item and don't buy it, I usually regret it.

Back at home, I played around with different ideas for the mantel.

I used an old family treasure - my grandmother's school slate - to write 2013.

I have letters in all shapes and sizes and I couldn't decide how to spell out New Year.

I wanted to use my ceramic balls, but I don't have a Y.

I have some metal blocks, but the set only came with 26 blocks so I only have 1 E.

I remembered these wooden letters I bought on sale at Michael's.

They have a little magnet on the back so I found an old magnetic board I wasn't using and attached the letters.

I finished it off with some of my hands to hold the signs.

I am excited to have 2 new clocks to use in vignettes.

Steve's only complaint is that none of the clocks are set.

I didn't even think about using them as clocks, I just like the look.

I'm linked up at

French Country Cottage

Southern Lovely

My Romantic Home

The Charm of Home

Common Ground

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Life in a (different) little cottage by the sea

When KC graduated from college, she worked a season in the mountains to get her fill of skiing/snowboarding, before beginning her climb up the corporate ladder.

As a waitress in a ski resort, she had to work on Christmas and I was not happy about her being alone and not having her with us.

Thus began a new family tradition.

Every year, since 2003, we have taken a family ski vacation instead of buying lots of presents. 

The planning of our Christmas vacation begins in August so we can find a house that fits our purposes - not too big or too expensive!

Things went along great for several years, but our luck ran out.

Two years ago we rented a house in Santa Fe where Christmas Eve is magical with thousands of luminarias lighting up Canyon Road.

But, we only got in one day of skiing due to lack of snow.

Last Christmas we rented a wonderful house in Tahoe City with a gorgeous lake view and several ski resorts just a short drive away, but alas, there was so little snow that we got in only one very lackluster day of skiing.

In August, we decided that we did not want to risk planning a ski trip again this year.

We set our trusty travel agent (KC) on the trail of a tropical Christmas.

She found us a "little cottage by the sea" in Kauai.

Not this cottage on Hanalei Bay

or this Hanalei Bay house either - definitely not in our price range.

And not this house overlooking Hanalei Bay.

The photo is actually the view from the deck of "The House of Birds" as it is called by the owners.

It is a fun little house with one great room upstairs

and 2 bedrooms downstairs.

Although I live at the beach, I don't live in a 'beach' house so 'beach' themed furniture doesn't fit in.

It is just right for "The House of Birds".

The owners have decorated the house perfectly for its setting and purpose.

 Hawaiian flowers in my favorite palette of red, yellow and green.

I love wicker furniture, but it doesn't fit in my little Tudor cottage.

In this beach house, it is just the ticket.

Tapa cloth is hung as art

and native gourds and shells serve as decoration.

This little cottage by the sea is just what we needed.

No ski equipment, no heavy jackets - just bathing suits and flip flops.

Instead of skiing, it is kayaking, stand up paddling, hiking and swimming.

We love to ski, but as we sat out on the lanai last night eating dinner, JP's toast was,

"Here's to a new family tradition - Christmas in the tropics."

Steve's only suggestion was that next year the kids pay.

I won't hold my breath!

Mele kalikimaka

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Little Cottage By The Sea

I posted in early November about our house being featured in a local magazine.

The December issue of Ventana Monthly appeared in our mailbox on Thursday.

We saw the photos a few weeks ago when the editor asked Steve to help with the captions.

But, I was nervous about the article - how would our house look and what would be written?

We couldn't be more pleased with the article written by Lisa Snider.

During the interview she told us she preferred writing about simple homes rather than mansions that felt like museums.

She did her homework and included a line from a Tom Waites song to compliment the poster hanging in the dining room.

I was flattered that she incorporated lines from my blog for the article.

My favorite line is the intro after the title of

"Little Cottage By The Sea".

She wrote, "Steve and Carol Cook followed Thoreau's lead to the Lanes - where sand is normal, art abounds and the couple can live the life they imagined.

Other than writing a post about getting the house ready for the photo shoot, we didn't really talk much about the article.

I don't think I even mentioned to my sister that the article was being written.

On Friday night, we had a Christmas social to attend downtown and then we walked down the hill to a new seafood restaurant that everyone has been raving about.

At the social, someone approached me to say she had read the article.

At the restaurant, at least 4 different groups of people stopped by to tell us they saw the article.

Steve has had a good time recreating himself from a businessman to an artist.

And, I don't think it would have happened if we hadn't move to this little cottage by the sea.