Sprucing up with glass

April 10, 2013

The weather is warming up in southern Ohio. Now is a good time to update your home’s decor to welcome the Spring season.  Since my budget is tight, I am holding off on the big project I hope to complete in the future.

In the meantime, I am doing some low cost Spring spruce ups by adding a few accessories made of glass.  I think the transparency of bottles, jars and other items can add a fresh feel to rooms. The color can be vibrant or subdued.

The sparkle of glass reflects light and brightens all kinds of spaces and it is easy to find. Think stores like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Pier 1, Hobby Lobby or JoAnns Fabrics. Here are some examples from our home. I hope they give you a few ideas for your home.

This grouping of bell- shaped jars filled with shells, reminds me of the beach. (Which I live no where near...) The grouping is now sitting on our kitchen table.

Three bell-shaped jars filled with shells, remind me of the beach. (Which I live no where near…) The grouping is now sitting on our kitchen table.

This beaker like jar came from a large grocery store. It helps to hide the cut-out for the cable box wires.

This beaker like jar came from a large grocery store. It helps to hide the cut-out for the cable box wires.

Home-ista Kelly

Sea glass bottles come in many shapes and sizes.

Sea glass bottles come in many shapes and sizes.

I have seen several version of of table lamps with a glass bases. Tar'jay has them and so does TJ Maxx along with home-ista favorite Pottery Barn.

I have seen several versions of table lamps with a glass bases. “Tar’jay” has them and so does TJ Maxx along with home-ista favorite Pottery Barn. Mine are circa 2001 Home Goods.

An inexpensive piece of beveled glass can protect and add shimmer to a wood (or wood-like) table. Pier 1 is a great source for glass table tops.

An inexpensive piece of beveled glass can protect and add shimmer to a wood (or wood-like) table. Pier 1 is a great source for glass table tops.



September 28, 2012

I love Whole Food Markets. The products are great and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. At the store near my house I met a team member who was helpful and brutally honest, in a good way.

On a trip last year, I was looking around with a puzzled expression as I searched for a popular powered version of coffee creamer. The young woman stocking the shelved asked, if she could help me find something. I told her I was looking for my regular brand of the creamer. She said in a dry, but alarmed voice, “You mean white death.” I said, “I beg your pardon.” She repeated the phrase and went on to explain why my former favorite brand wasn’t the most healthy choice I could be making then pointed me toward a liquid soy coffee creamer. She finished with, “Try it and of you don’t like it, we’ll give you your money back.”

That started my love affair with Silk Coffee Creamer. It is smooth, rich with a hint of sweetness and the calorie count is reasonable.

I admit that it has helped me shave calories off of my beloved morning cups of coffee goodness. Try it. I think you will like it. And now as it has grown in popularity you can buy it at conventional and health focused grocers.

Because it need to be refrigerated it can lower the temperature of your hot cup of Joe. I typically poor a couple of tablespoons into a glass server and microwave for 30 seconds on defrost. This takes the chill off without affecting the composition. And that time of microwaving gives me a moment to do a plank core strengthening exercise. A bonus for my tummy.

I hope you will enjoy the soy…

Home-ista Kelly

A symbol of home…

August 5, 2012

What if we starting thinking about our homes as the pot that holds the soil where our lives grow?

Would we do things differently?

I thought about this idea after two summer windstorms destroyed two different sets of cachepots.

On the first incident, I was leaving our house and saw from the street that one of a pair of brown triangular pots was broken. The beautiful red Sun Parasol plants and the soil they were growing in was all over the ground and I was sad. But the clay pots were old and probably not intended for outside use, so I said, “Oh well” and cleaned up the mess, when I got home. A few days later I bought two new cachepots and added more soil to the plants.

The second set of pots was made of a heavy a terra-cotta. They were painted brick-red and had a cream-colored medallion embossed on them. They were inexpensive but well made. I liked these even more than the old ones.  And ironically I wasn’t too concerned that they would break; the storm was a fluke for this time of year. But they did, less than a week after being on the stairs.

This time I opened my front door to do a quick once-over before my mom and her friends arrived and I found my plants thrown out of the cachepots and onto the ground again. Some of the branches were going the wrong direction and now I have gotten mad.

So what kind of pot is going to be suited to do the job? Thinking about this, I realize that the plants were probably too top-heavy for the first two sets of pots. It made sense the wind was slinging them to the ground. And the pots were easily breakable. Maybe next time I would get a pot that looks like clay or stone, but isn’t. And yes I want the pot to be attractive, but it needs to protect the plant from damage, because it has the important job of holding the soil that nurtures the life of the plant.

Can this analogy help you think about something that you can do this week, month, year to make your home more functional because home contains the physical, emotional and spiritual soil that your life is growing in? And of course you want that life to be the best it can be…

Home-ista Kelly

P.S. I did get more pots. They are made of a resin that looks like stone.  Hopefully they will last. But even if they don’t this whole episode has given me a greater appreciation for the power of the pot… I mean the home.

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; by knowledge its rooms are filled with all kinds of precious and pleasing treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4

It’s near the middle of summer and I just finished one of my goals. I have finally dressed my dining room for the warm weather. It actually took a lot longer than I had planned. But I did it and I am thrilled.

This seasonal change was actually quite simple. Only two areas have been affected. The dining chairs from Pottery Barn are now wearing their stone hued linen slipcovers as opposed to the cardinal red brushed-canvas ones from Autumn and Winter. I am so grateful to have two sets, because they are easy to change and really affect the mood of the space. (If you catch a sale, slipcovers can be reasonably priced.) It usually takes me 30-40 minutes to change all six chairs if I take the time to iron each cover before I zip it on the seat.

Warm Weather Look

The time stealing culprit was wall of curtains. As background, last Spring I saw some beautiful, but simple brown linen at JoAnn’s Fabrics. I knew it would co-ordinate perfectly with the stone slipcovers. I needed a fair amount and placed an order using a coupon to get a good deal. And then… I got busy and never sewed the curtains. So all last spring and summer my poor dining room – looked like a person wearing a turtleneck sweater at the beach. It almost happened again this year. But four weeks ago, with resolve, I set up my fifteen year-old Brother sewing machine on the dining room table, and commandeered the space to measure, cut, hem, iron and sew seven panels of joy.

For full four weeks, the room was filled with linens scraps all over, scissors, thread, and pins on the table, with a yardstick and unfinished panels on the floor. The ironing board and iron became like an ugly piece of furniture. Some days got to sew for only a few minutes. And there were many days that I didn’t sew at all but by the grace of God I got eventually them done and they look good.

Cold Weather Dining…

So… if you have a seasonal decorating project that you had hoped to execute, don’t give up. Keep fighting to get it done and then enjoy your accomplishment, even if it happens a full year later. (And I promise to share the simple process I used to make the curtains in the future.)

Hugs- Home-ista Kelly

Here are a few ideas for Warm Weather Pick-Me-Ups:

• Put a pot of Mandevilla “Sun Parasol” on your deck or front porch.
• Roll up the wool rug in front of your door and put down a cotton or jute one.
• Take the placemats off of your table. Let the surface be free – just use coasters for the beverages at mealtime.
• Replace the hand towels in your bathroom with summery ones.
• Take all artificial flower displays to a storage area until late September. Go au’naturale or use fresh flowers judiciously.

I have to admit that autumn is my favorite season. But summer is second and the change from cold weather to warm can be a great time to refresh the decor in your home. I like to add pops of color with accessories. They are typically not expensive and they are easy to execute. Maybe some of these ideas can work for your home.

Live plants in bright cache pots add healthy oxygen to the air and beauty.

Dried flowers can also add color and texture and ironically they don’t seem to collect much dust. Brightly hued glass bottles can add shine with the color. These can be found in many places, like TJ Maxx, Meijers, Michaels, Hobby Lobby for very little cash.

Throw blankets or quilts are useful eye candies. Just keep the weight of the fabric in mind when choosing a textile to drape over your bed or sofa. I have recently seen an all-season wool which had an element of shine. Bamboo is a new trend for throws and blankets. It is lightweight and made of easily renewed sources.

Accent rugs can be changed with ease and they add personality to utilitarian spaces.

Candles add color and a fresh scent if you choose ones with perfume or natural aromas.

Colorful dish towels add zest to the kitchen. And if you have an open floor plan they might even connect colors from the kitchen to the adjoining spaces.

I hope one or more of these ideas will help you brighten your space.

Happy Almost Summer! Home-ista Kelly

I love it when I come across tips or ideas that can make my life better. I am always on the scout for ideas that make daily tasks, faster, easier, more effective or more enjoyable.

Here are some old standbys and a few newbies:

  • Use Lazy Susan’s in unexpected places. Put one on a shelf in your refrigerator to hold containers of yogurt or condiments. You can easily chose what you want with a simple spin. They work well in pantries and under sinks in the kitchen or bathroom. They are fabulous for keeping your spices accessible and they are great for corralling over-the-counter medicines on a high shelf in a hall closet.
  • Use old socks to dust your reasonably reachable ceiling fans. You can hold the blades in place with one hand while dusting with the other. When I use this method it seem that less dust winds up on the floor than when I use a regular feather duster. Do wear a scarf to protect your hair.
  • Space and budget permitting, keep a set of cleaning supplies in each bathroom. You (or those to whom you delegate) will save time and be able to clean as soon as the space needs it.
  • To prevent coffee grounds from getting into your freshly brewed pot of Joe, use two filters, but place the second filter on top of the coffee grounds. I saw this tip on Amazon.com when I was searching for a new coffee maker. This is a great tip. It really works and it also makes clean up a lot easier.
  • Label the shelves in your hall closet so you and family members know where things go. I have a shelf for cleaning supplies, towels, queen sheets, twin sheets, etc.
  • Use your calendar to remember to change the filters in your HVAC system. You can use the date of your birthday as the designated change day for each month. Record the activity in your planner or PDA just like you would schedule a regular appointment.
  • Spray your super dirty everyday dishes with a squirt of Formula 409 when you finish eating. I find that this multi-purpose cleaner is safe and helps to make sure the highly soiled plates get clean without a ton of scrubbing.
  • Use an attractive mirror to increase light at the end of a long hallway. Even a small mirror will draw the eye through the space by providing reflective light and a pretty focal point.

  • See-through over-the-door shoe pockets are great in a hall closet for holding hats, gloves, small toys, a deck of cards, a first aid kit, and of course, shoes.
  • Inexpensive ceramic pots reduce visual clutter by corralling bath and beauty supplies on a bathroom counter top or vanity area.

    Ceramic "flower" pots from Ikea

  • Position a few flashlights strategically throughout your home to be ready for the next power outage. I keep one in the drawer of my nightstand. Each kiddo has one in his or her room. There is one in the drawer under my oven, because the one in the kitchen “junk” drawer often does a Houdini impression.
  • Keep a box of “baby wipes” on hand even if you don’t have a baby. They are great for cleaning a small spills or stain from clothing, without leaving residue. They are also great for keeping germs on doorknobs, telephones, light switches, drawer handles at bay, with a quick swipe.
  • A bamboo garden ladder makes a great towel rack in a tight space. My younger son kept bumping into the contemporary metal rack in a small bathroom and it eventually came out of the wall. After two different attempts to reattach the rack without long-term success, I cried uncle and used the bamboo ladder. Even if it falls down, no dry wall spackling will be required.

  • My personal favorite, I use the timer or alarm on my cell phone to remind me to do the next task at hand. I set the timer for 15 minutes of Facebook time. When I hear the ring-a-ding-ding, I stop surfing the net and do the next scheduled thing. The alarm comes in handy at work to remind me to leave the office to pick up my daughter from school on time. It is very helpful for the times when I need to be engrossed in a project and afraid that losing track of time will cause problems on the back-end. In the past, it has helped me make a graceful exit if a colleague arrived in my office to chat at a moment when I needed to transition to another activity.

Hopefully some of these will be helpful to you. And of course, I’d love to hear (and share) the things that work for you.

Happy Super Bowl Week,

Home-ista Kelly

Kelly in Indianapolis, 13 days before Superbowl 46...