Get Your Holiday Tool Kit Ready

Don’t you admire/hate those people who have all of their holiday shopping done before Halloween is past?
I know I should be doing this….
Somehow…I really don’t get in the spirit of shopping until at least Thanksgiving.

I do start to put together an essential Holiday Tool Kit to have ready for the hectic holiday decorating, wrapping and shopping!
I thought I would share my “gotta have” list with you.  I would love to hear what your essentials are.

Paddle Wire
You won’t believe how many times you will use this.
It costs about $3.
I keep a paddle in the craft room and the junk drawer.
It is great for hanging decorations….without damaging surfaces.
It is the way to secure the center of a fancy bow!
Paddle wire is available at craft stores and on Amazon.
Wired Ribbon
Costco has 50 Yard spools of wired ribbon for $6.99.  I don’t think there is a better deal out there.
This ribbon works for everything.
I always buy a pure red and a burlap look.  
You won’t believe the ways this will work in your holiday wrapping and decorating. 
Here is a link to a tutorial all about tying fancy bows.
Pine Cones 

Pine cones are accents that work in November as well as December…and even up until Valentine’s Day.

If you have pine trees or access to them…..start collecting all sizes of pine cones.  We have trees with those tiny “mini” cones.  I gather tons of these to use as filler. 

Start watching at the grocery or craft store.  You can find deals on those wonderful cinnamon scented cones.  Instant Holiday atmostphere is just $5 away!

If you feel like splurging….invest in some giant Sugar Pine Cones.  I have been able to order them in bulk for around $3 a cone….but even at twice that….they have a dramatic impact. I think this arrangement could work from November to January.

 Cellophane Wrap
I love to use this simple clear cello wrap to dress up a hostess gift.  If you buy food grade…it can make that home baked treat look pretty upscale.  If you have some on hand you can add some instant glamour without much expense or fuss.

All Kinds of Tape/Adhesives
This is the time to buy those 3 packs of clear tape both single and double stick.  The ones at the dollar store work great for most things.
Zots…are great for sticking paper to paper.  You can also use them to put paper on glass….easy to remove.
Command Strips…great to have on hand to temporarily put up holdiday themed art.
Spray Mount Adhesive….make sure to have a full can.
Modge Podge…even a small bottle from the dollar store may come in handy.
 Picture Frames
Start gathering small sized frames from the thrift store.  You can frame cute family photos with a holiday theme or a beautiful holiday card from the past!  Print out a favorite quote captured from the internet and present it in a frame.  (wrap it in cellophane for a classy touch)
Those are just a few of the things that are in my arsenal. 
I know I won’t have the ambition to get the big shopping items purchased before mid-December….but I can be ready to do some small things.
The whole idea is to have things on hand so that you don’t have to take time out to go to the store when inspiration hits you.
What are the things you deem essential for your holiday preparations?  I would love to hear from you!
Have a Great Day!

Quick Flower Arranging Tip

Hurrah! The Zinnia’s are in full bloom!
These garden flowers make wonderful flower arrangements.

I have been using a “ball” of chicken wire to support the stems in my Zinnia arrangements this summer.
A big roll of this stuff is great to have on hand in your supply closet.
I still love fresh floral foam to support stems, but the chicken wire is reusable, making it a thrifty choice!

 Harvesting zinnias at the right stage is essential to getting a long vase life.  Harvest too soon and the stems will bend and droop; wait too long and the blooms fade quickly.  A really simple way to see if your zinnias are ready to harvest is by doing the “wiggle” test.  Simply grab the stem about 8 inches below the flower and give it a gentle shake.  If it’s immature, the stem will be soft and bend easily.  If it is ready to harvest, the stem remains stiff and upright when you wiggle it.  It’s time to cut!  Cut deeply on the plant to get a long, strong stem. Remove the foliage and don’t be afraid to cut off side shoots on the main stem you just harvested.  Zinnias are a  “cut and come again” flower, so when you cut the plant “hard,” it responds by sending out even more long, strong stems all season long. (

Conditioning Zinnias is really simple and worth the effort.
There are several schools of thought on conditioning Zinnias.
This is the way I do it…. 
Place stems in boiling water for a few seconds. Condition overnight in tepid water. Zinnias last better if plants are watered before they are cut.   

If you want to read more about conditioning different flowers, this link is great!
The Garden Club of Brookfield Connecticut   

And now I will close with some Zinnia inspirations for you! 

 Have A Great Day!

Painting the INSIDE of the Kitchen Cupboards!

Cleaning and organizing the kitchen cupboards is a great project at this time of year.  I started to do just that at the beginning of the month.

In the process….I looked…really looked at interiors of the cupboards!

The melamine laminate has the scratches and scuffs that come from normal use over time. The original white has become dull and yellowed.
I decided that they need a fresh coat of paint.
I did the research to find the best way to paint the interior of laminate cupboards and shared the plan with Mr. S.
Of course….he thought I was bonkers! 
“Nobody ever looks at the insides of cupboards?” he said.
“I do!” I said.  
“Whatever….do what you want!” he said.

So perhaps it is that I have too much time on my hands…..I decided to ignore all the naysayers and get on with it!

Supplies and Tools

I researched the kinds of paint to use and learned that it was critical to use really GOOD paint.  Really good paint is really expensive! The work this would take meant that the money for $50 a gallon paint would be worth it!

We chose this water based heavy duty paint from Hirshfields.

I love that it has a semi-gloss finish and that it cleans up easily with water.

A good quality paint brush, foam roller, and masking tape were the only other tools needed.

 I knew this project would be a lot of work and would take a lot of time….but hey I have TIME!
What I hate about projects like this is the disruption and mess!
There is no way that I wanted to totally empty the cupboards and do them all at once.
So I decided to take this on one cupboard at a time!

The first step was to empty the cupboard….duh!
I took the time to really look at all of the stuff as I unloaded the shelves.  I used this as an opportunity to do a little purging and re-thinking of what things we really needed to keep.

Next the interior surfaces get a good cleaning with some TSP.

Oh my!  What a lot of dirt and crumbs had accumulated!

 There really isn’t a lot of need to do much masking…and a little bit of newspaper was enough to keep the area around the single cabinet free from drips.

I used the paint brush to get into the corners and the foam brush was great for a nice smooth coat of paint.

I did one coat for all of the surfaces and then two coats for the shelves and bottom of the cabinets.

This paint dries very quickly.  The second coat could be applied after a two hour wait.

It seemed wise to let the paint cure for 24 hours to be certain it was hardened well.
Wow!  What a difference!

The bright shiny white cupboards make the cabinets feel brand new!
The time spent cleaning and sorting all the contents was also time well spent.

Before all of my vintage pyrex bowls were stacked in the cabinet in the lower photo.  This meant that when I wanted to use them….I had to do some major lifting to get the one I wanted.  I moved the bowls to the lower shelf on the smaller cabinet.  Then all of the pyrex bakeware went to the wider cabinet.  This is much more efficient and looks nicer too!

Right now, I am getting ready to paint the interior of that awful corner cabinet.  It is the one we keep pans and baking sheets in… as you can see there are a lot of scuff marks to cover!

It is probably good there is no “kitchen-cam” here!  Picture this lady crawling into this cabinet to paint!  I hope I don’t throw my back out!

Yup….I may be crazy!
But…I have controlled the crazy by doing this over a period of time.
The supplies can be stacked on a shelf ready for the days when “I have too much time on my hands” and need a project!

I guess this graphic says it all!

 I would love to hear about your crazy OCD/ADD projects!

Have A Great Day!

Link Parties
Eclectic Red Barn
Bouquet of Talent Party
Lamberts Lately   

Be A Goof Off!

It is Summer Time….the season we give ourselves permission to Goof Off a bit….
I don’t think of goofing off as a negative…..but when I read the definition for the noun……it wasn’t such a positive image!!

HMMMMMM……but relax!  This post isn’t about that kind of GOOF OFF…..
It is about THIS!
$4 worth of MAGIC….
In a little yellow can!
Add a little steel wool and this stuff will remove any number little messes!
This Thursday we will turn Sweetwater into a Floral Arranging Studio for a day!
A friend is coming to make ALL the bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres for her wedding!
Won’t that be fun? 
If you want to read about another time we did this CLICK HERE
I am organizing supplies and getting ready for Thursday.
When I got out my clippers…..oh my….they were not ready for company!!
Time to GOOF OFF!
10 minutes later……SUCCESS!
Seriously….this stuff is amazing!
My stainless steel craft room sink is always a mess from all the different abuses I subject it too!
Since this is often the place we have the “Beverage Center” when we entertain….it gets the steel wool and GOOF OFF treatment to be ready for company too!
So….I highly recommend that you have a little can of GOOF OFF in your closet!
I also highly recommend that at least a couple of times this summer you be a GOOF OFF!
(I won’t tell)!

Signs of Spring-Pussy WIllow and Forsythia!

A week with NO below zero temperatures!  
A week with NO new snow!
When the temps hit 40° all the kids on the playground shed their coats!
It must be SPRING!
I took a couple of minutes to brighten up the mantle this week!
My inspiration was this gorgeous painting I found on a wonderful blog!
Eat Drink Paint by Kim Rempel is pure visual candy!
Since I can’t spend the money on the painting (it is sold anyway!)
I decided to create an arrangement that mimics the art piece!
I had a spray of artificial Forsythia and some Pussy Willow branches saved from last spring!
I use to try unsuccessfully to create arrangements by bending the branches of artificial flowers while they were still clumped together on that big plastic stem!
I finally learned to treat the artificial spray like “REAL” flowers and cut them to size!  
That red handled tool in the picture is a real godsend… clips through the plastic and wire “like butter”!

I didn’t have any of the dry floral foam you are supposed to use for artificial arrangements….but since my motto is “use what ya got”… a block of fresh floral foam (used dry) worked just fine for this project!

Cutting the branches apart allows for an freer and more natural arrangement of the Forsythia!
Then it was just a matter of adding the Pussy Willow!
By the way….did you know that the fuzzy gray thing on the branches are actually called “CATKINS”?
The floral foam was showing… a little Spanish Moss was added to hide it!
Now the mantle looks a bit more seasonable!
Now if only the snow outside would melt…..the real signs of Spring could start to show up!
Have A Great Day!