Halloween DIY, Ya’ll

Posted on Updated on

So my Better Homes and Gardens magazine came in the mail today.  Yay!  And I started flipping through it when I came upon their Falloween Fresh Finds page.  Take a look at these fun Halloween ideas.

Better Homes and Gardens Magazine October 2013
Better Homes and Gardens Magazine October 2013

As soon as I saw the candles I was like, “I have to have them!  How much are they?”  Well, as you can see below.  From Mackenzie-childs.com they are $22 for a pair of tapered candle sticks.  Really?!  OK yeah, so quick project of the day.  Remake these candles!

All you need is Candles, Tape, and a Sharpie! 

**You could always use electrical tape if you are not planning on burning them – that way you can take it off and have perfect white tapered candles!!

Candles, Tape, and Sharpie
Candles, Tape, and Sharpie

Ok so I didn’t have any white tapered candles in my house, but I did have emergency candles from the dollar store!  I’m not about being perfect…if you want to be my guest.  Just wrap the tape around the candle and color in the open areas.  They won’t be perfectly black the first time you color them in.  Let the first one dry while you work on the second one, then go back and fill in a second or even a 3rd if you want it to be solid black.


Simple, easy, and really just let your kids do it (if you have kids).  It took all of 10 minutes to complete.  Like I said mine are not perfect, I didn’t try to be, but they are really cute!


And well, I let the candle burn for like an hour, because I wanted to see how it would react against the flame, or if it would smell.  And here is what it looks like when its being burned.  (And no it did not smell like sharpie when it was burning!)


This one was another possible DIY I didn’t try.  But you could do this with a sharpie on various mediums; tiles, cork, glass, etc!


Hope you enjoy!  It doesn’t quite feel like fall yet here in the south so I haven’t started decorating for fall, but I am getting ready for Halloween!



Shut the Front Door

Posted on

Door colors have been on my mind for the past few months.

It started with a controversial color that my mom picked for the front door of their new house.

THE Front Door
The almost famous front door

The color is called “Jolly Green” and is by Sherwin Williams.  It is literally the same color as the neon green painter’s tape. In fact, many people have asked if this was a primer, or if this was the “final” paint color.

A better view of the stained glass.. from inside the house

When she originally chose the color, I was not sold on it.  The house that they are building is 1/2 wood shop for my dad, and the other 1/2 is their living space.  She wanted to be able to tell visitors to “go to the ________ colored door” when directing them to the living side.  She had selected their doors very carefully, and wanted a paint color that would bring out one of the shades in the stained glass.  I had been hoping for a royal blue.  That, however, was not her choice.

I helped her paint the doors.  As I was putting on the first few strokes, I admit I was still thinking, “Wow.. this is a BRIGHT shade of green…”

I couldn’t think of many positive attributes for the color, but the more I see it next to their wood siding, the more it grows on me.  I can honestly say now that I’m glad she chose it.  It adds a lot of personality to the house and really makes it stand out from all the other ho-hum doors out there.

{My dad has chosen to remain strategically silent on this whole issue.}

Front of the house
Here’s a little better perspective on what the doors look like with the rest of the {all brown} house.

The comments from the neighbors, however?  Yikes!  Didn’t any of those people see Bambi?:

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

They’re still in the middle of the building process, but as the rest of the exterior work and landscaping are finished, I think a lot more people will be in favor of this color choice.  And.. if not.. who cares?!?

In honor of my mother {and all other brave women – and men – everywhere},  here are a few of my favorite bold front door color choices.

So, what do you think?  Would you prefer to stand out with your decorating choices, or are you someone who feels more comfortable playing it safe with color?
If you’re thinking about taking the color plunge, why not start with something like your front door?  For about a $20 investment {the cost of a quart of paint and a good brush}, you can have a colorful piece of art that says, “Hello!” to anyone who visits your home.

If nothing else.. at least it’ll get the neighbors talking! 🙂


Small Town-itis

Posted on

Welcome to Lewistown, PA.  I have no doubt that most of the world has never heard of this place.  It’s my home.


“Don’t let small town life make your life small.” – Chris Colfer

Downtown Lewistown
A view looking from near the square to the west end of Lewistown

What is it about small towns that make people want to run for the hills?  Is it the fact that there doesn’t seem to be anything to do?  Is it that everyone knows everyone’s business?  Over the years, I’ve come to realize that this attitude is probably true of every small town {or medium-sized town} in the world.  I feel like every high school graduation speech could be concluded with a phrase like, “Run for your life!” or “Get out! Go, as fast as you can!”  I think part of the mindset has to do with restlessness.  Another large part has to do with growing up and finding your own identity, apart from what you’ve grown up with and who you’ve known.

The Miller Cinema, a downtown fixture
The historic “Miller Cinema 6,” a small-town theater that has tried to keep up with the larger modern theaters over the years. Although many prefer to drive 30 minutes to see a movie in one of the bigger chain theaters, this theater offers small-town convenience and slightly better pricing.

 When I graduated from high school, I had little intention of coming back home.  By the time I finished college, I knew that I was going wherever I got a job.  Ironically, my design degree brought me back to the very same small town that I came from.  Before I moved back, I remember saying something like, “If I move back home, I’m going to have to buy every empty building in Downtown Lewistown and do something with it!” Obviously, that would require a very large purse.  One of which, I do not have.

It’s not that I don’t love my town.  It’s my home.  My family is here, and it is truly a beautiful place to live.  Sadly, like so many other small towns everywhere, our town just got stuck in a time warp somewhere between the invention of the mall and the explosion of internet commerce.  This once thriving town was {and still is} full of vacant, neglected storefronts.

A view of East Market Street. Although this side of the street has been updated and houses many thriving businesses, the opposite side still leaves a lot to be desired. Current construction has made downtown travel and business dealings difficult this year.

The good news is, someone is doing something about that.  Several “someones,” in fact. It’s not an easy task, and it’s one that has to be done on purpose. But one baby step at a time, this town is improving.  We have a Planning Commission that is working hard to secure a positive future and growth opportunity for our town, and to help ensure we don’t fall back into the rut of that doomed time warp.

Let me share with you some of the most recent notable improvements in our town.  They are a series of murals done by artist Dwight Kirkland, a local muralist with incredible talent.
{For more of Mr. Kirkland’s work including many local projects, visit his website. I think you’ll be very impressed!}

Mural at Victory Park, under the river bridge that crosses the Juniata River in Lewistown
Mr. Kirkland’s most recent work was done for the cost of materials only, and is situated just off the town square for great visibility. His art is truly breathtaking


I hope you enjoyed “visiting” my town through photos.  Who feels the way I do about their hometown?  Do you think it’s possible to bring these small towns back to life, when technology seems to be leaving them in the dust?  I’d love to hear what you think!


Master Bedroom Furniture Re-do and getting Baffled

Posted on

About 2 years ago my husband and I were looking for a new dresser for our bedroom.  I knew I didn’t want to buy it new.  We went to the local thrift stores and antique shops, and found nothing for about 3 weeks.  Then one day way in the back we found it, it was an 8 drawer disaster.  Perfect!

It was only $100, and the shop owner was this really sweet old man who we spoke to for about 30 minutes, I was buttering him up to ask for a discount.  But, at the end I just couldn’t do it, he was too sweet.  We paid the $100 and loaded the piece into our truck.

I’m all for doing things the right way, so that day I sanded it 3 times.  First, with 120 grit sand paper, then with 180 grit, and I finished with 220 grit.

I was going for that beach-y vibe so I knew I wanted to go with a pale blue.  So to Home Depot we went.  I almost walked away with a ton of samples (yeah right….I definitely took them all with me. Projects!) and no paint.  When it comes to paint I can usually pick it right away, its fabric I sweat over.  Anyways, I kept looking for the right blue.  I grabbed one of their color scheme samples and I found it.

Behr Denim Blue Ultra-Premium Satin finish primer and paint in one!


This picture shows it just a bit darker then it actually turns out.

YES! Eliminating a separate primer – GREAT!

Once home I got right to painting.  It took two coats and a light sand in between to complete.

I loved the hardware that was on the piece so I took it off and my husband and I cleaned it up with Brasso.  It was a simple process; just make sure to complete this project outside.  Luckily I had a tarp down but I really don’t know what it would have done to the carpet in my rental.

Here is the final product:

My Painted Dresser

It turned out great.  This picture isn’t the best; I just threw a few things on it quick to get the picture.  The color wasn’t to light or dark, and not to purple or grey.  It’s just a really great shade of pale blue.

The bedroom regained this calming feel to it with this piece.  With my sandy colored upholstered headboard and crisp white bedding.  It was exactly what I wanted, serene, relaxing, and gorgeous.

All who know me know I am a linen snob to the core.  I will be cheap in every other room in my house, but my bed is not one of them.  I loved working for a furniture store because I could get any mattress we sold for 10% above cost, which is significant savings!

Anyways, getting baffled, make sure when you buy a good quality down comforter that it’s baffled…


Here is an example of a baffled comforter from Frontgate.  Basically, it has a box or diamond patterned sewn into it – this keeps the down from pooling down in one corner of the fabric.  It’s super important for longevity of your investment.

My fantastic deal was just after the New Year at Bed Bath and Beyond.  All last year model down comforters were on clearance at 50% off!  So I was all for getting the best one they had.  It was this amazing 600 thread count triple cleaned hypo-allergenic bamboo covered down comforter.  Original price was $500, with 50% off, yep it was $250.  But, even better I was stashing a bunch of old coupons they still redeemed for 20% off.  So we got this amazing deal $200 for a $500 pure luxury down comforter.

Let me know if you have any great purchase stories – I would love to hear about them!

Don’t discard it just because it’s old, sometimes the perfect piece just needs a little tlc.


Lofty Business

Posted on Updated on

Along with the national Downtown revitalization efforts came a need for downtown housing.  This brought forth lots of rebirth – big, empty factories and former businesses have had new life breathed into them in the form of loft apartments.  Something lovely in an otherwise purpose-less space.

There’s something enviable about the idea of living in a loft apartment.  Although I am a small-town girl born and raised, I always wanted to live in the city. {And by “the city,” I don’t mean New York.  Something smaller, more Southern.. like Atlanta..? would be my style.}  As far as design elements go, I’ve always favored incorporating stone and wood, along with some metal accents.  I would have thought my style was along the lines of something Southwestern.  That is, until I had my first loft experience.

While we were in college in York, PA, they were finishing up The Lofts on North George Street.  Our instructors took us on a field trip to see a few of these brand new units.  HELLO high ceilings, “old meets new,” smart layouts, and all of the textures and design elements that I love.  I was impressed by how unique each of them were.  I loved the old brick walls, the large amount of natural light in them, the exposed ductwork, and the pocket doors.  They. were. beautiful.

I was recently looking online at real estate, and I ended up on Trulia looking at a few of those same Lofts for sale and rent.  One of those, ironically, is one of the exact ones that we toured.  It was fun to look through the pictures and be swept back to the feeling of being a college student with my whole design career an open slate in front of me.  Right away, I remembered seeing those gorgeous windows luring you into the space, and loving the brick wall that runs the entire length of the condo.  This was the first unit we toured.

One of the Lofts on North George Street – Living Room

I don’t think this bathroom was in one of the units we got to see, but it fits the loft ideal perfectly.  I love the brick accent wall.  It’s certainly not something you see every day!

Loft Bathroom

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Maybe it’s partially because I live in an old town that is currently being “revitalized,” but I am a huge fan of the idea of taking these old buildings and factories that are out of commission and turning them into something new and beautiful.  I’ve been keeping my eye on a local project that has a loft-style flavor to it.  The old Hotel Lewistown building is being converted from a hotel to a series of apartment units.  Although it wasn’t an old factory or ever used for something other than housing, it’s the same concept of revitalizing.

Hotel Lewistown
Built in 1936, it was used as a hotel until it was shut down in 2010.

Hotel Lewistown

I’m actually very excited to see how it turns out.  I’ve met the gentleman who purchased the property, and he has many things in mind for continued {housing} revitalization in Lewistown.  Hopefully, we’ll get to peek at the building when it’s finished.  The newspaper said it was originally expected to be done this coming month, but I haven’t heard any updates.  I just can’t wait to see the transformation!

So, how do you feel about this topic? What do you love about lofts? I’d love to know!

Take the quiz:

Is Loft Living Right for You?


Carolina Pulled Pork Recipe

Posted on

My Favorite Summer Time Crock Pot Recipe : Carolina Style Pulled Pork – (NO BBQ SAUCE!)

I have made this a bunch of times since we moved to the south just a few months ago….I LOVE IT!  It is really quick and simple to put together too.

When you look at it it looks plain….and maybe you will think….oh there is nothing special about this recipe – Just like I did. But wait til you taste it!!

pulled pork

What you need:

Pork Tenderloin : They usually come 2 in a pack – use the whole pack usually 2-3 lbs (fresh or frozen works)

1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

¼ cup Brown Sugar

2-3 tablespoon Dijion Mustard

Drizzle of Honey

Salt and Pepper

Put the tenderloin in the crock – then toss everything else in on top…you may want to add like ¼ cup of water if your tenderloin is frozen.

Low heat for 6-8 hrs and voila! Pull it apart with 2 forks and you have dinner!  For more of the Carolina style – put a big heap of the pulled pork on a Kaiser bun then get some sweet coleslaw (I buy mine pre-made at Kroger) and put it right on top….Its Delicious!

carolina pulled pork




My table usually finds Rachel Rays Loaded Baked Potato Salad the same night as these yummy sammies!


Baked potato salad


If you try any of these or already have let me know what you think!

– Melissa

Colorful Kitchens: For You or Faux Pas

Posted on Updated on

As much as I also like a clean white kitchen, personally I go for more color.  I am adventurous, I want to see blue, yellow, green, grey, heck even red (my least favorite color).

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, to which I completely agree.  I love being in my kitchen!  I spend a lot of time there – probably because I can see my TV, but I’m a baker by heart.  I’m not chef material, but I can bake.  I love when you walk into my home and smell what I made yesterday.

They say when you are trying to sell your home to make it smell clean and citrus.  I say make some browned butter blueberry bread!  You may even get a request for your recipe in your offer.

Let’s look at a few kitchens and see how they evoke a certain feeling.

Kitchen 1: Look at this lovely French blue kitchen.  You can tell the homeowner wanted a specific look, and it gives a great feeling.  It would be hard not to smile just a little every time I walked into this kitchen.  It says to me, grab the baguette and wine.


If this were my kitchen:  I think I would only make 2 changes.  Instead of 1 lamp over the island I would have done 2, and I would have chosen a different tile for behind the range.  Other than that I love this kitchen!  It wouldn’t work in my beach house, but I still appreciate its style.

Kitchen 2: These red cabinets just entice your eye to look at them.  The designer chose a fabulous shade; it’s just a bit darker than a cherry red, and lighter than a cranberry.  They made this usually small feeling galley kitchen have a great big personality that you just want to be in.


If this were my kitchen: I would have put a white plank cork floor down, it would give the space a little texture and warmth.  And, again, I would have chosen a different lighting arrangement.  This room makes me want to eat ethnic foods, try items I wouldn’t eat normally.

Kitchen 3: The pale yellow and inviting warmth of the wood island makes this kitchen a timeless work space.  Its traditional feel invites gatherings of friends and families to be together.  Bring on the pot roast and the ham!


If this were my kitchen: I wouldn’t have done the metal backsplash behind the range.  And it looks like the rest of the backsplash is bead board, which I would have done in a different color than yellow. To me it needs a little bit of visual separation.

Each one of these kitchens have a different feeling to them.  You can get a high style look from colorful cabinets.  Just make sure the design is cohesive throughout.

You have to know how you want your home to feel.  It is more important for you or your designers to understand how you use the space, then what color cabinets you want.