Saturday, September 3, 2016

DIY Litter Box Curtain from Skirt

We recently acquired our first indoor cat, Yuki. I decided to locate his litter box in the laundry room. It's the most logical place for it.

It was a quick and easy project - quicker than creating this post!


Litter box
Kitty litter
Fabric for curtain
Tension rod
Screw driver

  1. I measured the opening, adding an inch for the hidden tension rod. 
  2. I removed the door from the sink cabinet by unscrewing the hinges. I taped the screws to the door for future use.
  3. I dug through my thrift-shop stash of clothing purchased for the fabric, not because they fit. I chose a cheerful, floral linen, gourd skirt. It was 25" long, the exact length I needed.
  4. I sewed the top edges of the waistband together to close the opening. If you don't sew, you can use staples, safety pins, or hot glue.
  5. I cut a slit on the inside of the waistband on each side, which formed a rod pocket, which I slid the rod through.
  6. I slid the rod into the cabinet and unscrewed it enough to create tension.
  7. I arranged the "curtain" and I was done.
Yuki liked it so much I didn't think he'd ever come out.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Closet Makeover and DIY Custom Foam Core Board Tray Organizer

I'm eliminating clutter from our home using the KonMari method. I learned about it in the book, "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. It may sound cliche, but it really is life-changing.

Recently, my BFF and I ripped out all of the built-in shelving from my master closet. The spacing was impractical and they weren't adjustable. We got a little aggressive with the hammer, so last weekend  I patched, sanded and repainted the closet walls.

Emptying the closet
Shelves ripped out. Walls full of dents.

Walls patched and painted

Then, my husband hung ClosetMaid Shelftrack tracks, screwing them into the wall headers. The standards hang from the track. You can reconfigure  them as your needs change over time with no unsightly holes to patch. The SuperSlide brackets let you slide hangers continuously along the rod.

I have two armoires that I bought second hand. They are solid wood, Bassett pieces that I got for $150 total. No particle board or cardboard backing here. The style is a bit dated, but they provide dust-free storage.

Since my husband is 6' 2", I decided it would be more convenient for him to reach into an armoire than bend over to retrieve clothes from dresser drawers. So I decided to move the armoires into the closet.

Before I could move his clothes in, I needed a way to contain them on the  shelves. One of Marie's methods is to fold most clothing, rather than hanging it. And, by folding it so that each piece stands on its own, you can store more items in a smaller space. Standing the items up like fabric soldiers also means nothing is hidden from view.

I searched online for storage solutions that were both practical and affordable. When I found nothing, I turned to Pinterest for some DIY inspiration. Basically, what I needed was a really big organizer tray. So, I picked up a few supplies to add to what I already had on hand and got to work.

foam core board (I bought a tri-fold project board)
Elmers Glue All or other PVA glue
craft knife with a fresh blade
cutting mat
pencil (I used a chalk pencil on the black board)
straight edge
tape for trimming the edges

  1. Determine the measurements for your finished product then deduct 1/2 inch from the length and width to allow for the thickness of the foam core board. Cut a piece of foam core board to these dimensions. This will be the base.  
  2. Cut two pieces to the exact length of the short sides by 3" tall. 
  3. Add 1/2" to the measurement of the long sides and cut two pieces this length by 3" tall.

  4. Run a thin bead of glue along one short side and butt a short piece to it. Secure it in place with straight pins. Then do the same to the other short side.
  5. Add a long side, which should cover the raw edges of the short sides because you added the extra length. Secure with pins. Do the same to the other side.

  6. If you want to add dividers, measure inside the assembled tray and cut to fit. glue in place. If you want to add decorative fabric or paper to the inside base, do it before adding the dividers.

  7. Once the glue has dried a about 20 minutes or so, you can remove the pins and begin trimming with tape.
  8. Cut a strip of tape to length and center it over the raw edge of one end. Trim the ends of the tape as needed then smooth it down onto the board, making sure not to press too hard, which will leave indentations in the board.

  9. Do this for the top edges, the bottom edges, then the corners. Or you may want to do the corners first, it's up to you.

  10. Add additional decorative trim if you wish.
And this is how it looks in the armoire. Pretty cool, huh?

I used black board and black tape to keep it simple. I could add a wide ribbon trim to the front or decorative knobs, even. There are lots of different decorative tapes that you can use to make your tray fun and functional. You could cover the inside with decorative paper or leave the tape off and use spray adhesive to cover the entire tray with fabric.

Scale the tray down a bit and it becomes a drawer organizer. Scale it down even more, and it's a jewelry or make-up organizer. The uses are endless.

I hope you find this DIY helpful. Please leave comments and photos if you make one for yourself.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Meet Edwina

My wallet-making was at a standstill. My sewing machine skipped stitches when I attempted to sew through the thickest areas, which consist of several layers of fabric and interfacing. I was so frustrated. I was losing my mojo. I needed a machine that could sew through several thick layers. I needed a machine that could even sew through leather. I needed a workhorse. I needed a good old fashioned Singer. And I knew where to get one!

So last night I went to my mother's house and opened up the cabinet to my Grandmommy's 1940 Singer 66-16. I oiled it, installed a denim needle and plugged it in. I threaded it and it sewed through eight layers of denim like butter!

My mother brought it to me today and I made this wallet with no problems. The stitching is even and beautiful. This will be my main machine from this day forward for making wallets and handbags. I have named her Edwina after my grandmother. I know Grandmommy is smiling down on me.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Product Photography Light Box Tutorial

Many artisans are selling their goods online. In fact, there is so much competition that you may find yourself spending as much time on your computer promoting your creations as you spend actually creating things.

Since buyers often rely on a computer screen or smartphone to do their shopping, it's important that your creations be visually represented as accurately as possible.

Many artisans rely on a digital camera or their smartphone for photographing their products. They often point and click. The result is often photos that are poorly lit, out of focus, or shot against a messy background, which is distracting and detracts from the beauty and the perceived value of the item.

Here are some common scenarios.
Flash causes overexposure in some areas and shadows in
others. Background is distracting. Product is too far away.
You can't appreciate the details.

No flash. Scene is poorly lit causing a lot of "noise",
the little colored dots that cover the photo.
Product is out of focus.
Here's a quick and easy way to improve your photos and give the attention to your creations that they deserve. And, hopefully, help you close more sales. This tutorial shows you how to build a quick and easy light box to photograph smaller items, but the same principles will apply to larger items. This works for both DSLRs, point and shoot cameras, and smart phones. I am not a professional photographer. I'm sure that even my photos could be improved upon. But, I think they are better than average and I like to share what I've learned with others.

List of Materials:
1 cardboard box big enough to fit your product with room to spare
2 sheets of tissue paper or parchment paper or any kind of thin white material that will diffuse light
2 really really bright lights. I prefer halogen shop lights.
1 white poster board
1 box cutter or serrated steak knife or anything that will cut the cardboard

  1. Decide which side of the box is going to become the "floor".
  2. Remove the flaps from the other three sides. 
  3. Cut large openings in the other three sides.
  4. Use tape and tissue paper to cover the openings.
  5. Lay the box down so that the uncut side is now the "floor" and its flap extends the floor.
  6. Place a white poster board in the box so that it curves up the back "wall" from the floor. This creates the "infinity edge" that is so desirable in product photography.
  7. Position a bright light on either side of the box so that it shines through the diffusing material (tissue paper, etc.) If you don't have shop lights, take the shades off of a couple of lamps and move them close to the diffusers. Just remember, the whiter the light, the better. 
  8. If available, shine another bright light through the top panel.
  9. Place your object on the floor and position it to your liking.

Now you're ready to make photographs.

Depending on what type of camera you are using, you may need to make a few adjustments. For this photo, I used my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smart phone. I selected the "macro" focus mode setting and set the white balance to "incandescent" light to remove the yellow tint.

Don't be afraid to experiment. Take a photo. Make adjustments. Take another photo. Make adjustments. Adjust the different settings until you are happy with your pictures.

Now that you have your photos, you can use them as is or use software or a phone app to further enhance them. You'll probably always need to crop your photo into a pleasing composition, then,  perhaps adjust the white balance further and increase the saturation, if necessary. Basically, you should adjust the photo until you think it accurately represents your product to potential buyers.

For this image, I brought my photo in Adobe Lightroom for the basic adjustments then I brought it into Adobe Photoshop CS4 to add the banner and text. Again, a lot of this can also be done using phone apps.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, some items may be too large for a box, but the same principles apply. Use a light or non-distracting background and shine diffused light on your object from every angle to reduce shadows. If shooting outdoors, choose a bright overcast day. The clouds are nature's diffuser!

I hope you've found this quick and dirty tutorial helpful Feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to answer. And there are no dumb questions. And if you have some tried and true methods that work for you, feel free to speak up. We're all learning here.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Aunt Hazel's Fruit Cake Cookies

My great aunt, Hazel Hebert Benoit, was an excellent cook and a wonderful lady. I always looked forward to her fruit cake cookies at Christmas. She's no longer with us, but she lives on through these wonderful, cake-like, not-too-sweet, cookies. They've become a family tradition and I'm sharing them so that they may become a tradition in your home for generations to come.

(I haven't baked any, yet, this year. As soon as I do, this post will be updated with photos.)


1 lb candied, mixed fruit. Usually found in the produce section during the holiday season
1 t baking soda dissolved in 1/2 c milk
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 stick butter or margarine
3 c chopped pecans (or more)
1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 c all purpose flour
2 t cinnamon or spices
1/3 c orange juice


Dredge fruits in 1/2 c flour. Cream butter and add sugar. Mix until fluffy. Add in fruit mixture. Add eggs and mix well. Add remaining flour and spices, soda/milk mixture, and orange juice. Mix well.

Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 min.

Yield: approx. 3 dozen

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup

I love homemade vegetable beef soup. It's one of those comfort foods that just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  My mother used to make it for us and store it in the fridge in a large Tupperware pitcher so that when we got home from school we could pour some in a mug and stick it in the microwave. It was a great after school snack on cold cool Louisiana winter days.

We always ate our vegetable soup with saltine crackers, but when I got married, my husband introduced me to soup with cornbread on the side. His mother gave us her soup recipe and over the years I've tweaked it a bit. In fact, I rarely make it the same way twice. I usually just make it with what I have on hand. I've decided I don't like potatoes in my soup. I'd rather fill up on beef. Big, juicy chunks of beef. And, I always make a huge pot (or two) and freeze it for easy weeknight meals.

We don't add any pasta to our soup. My husband doesn't like it and I don't really care either way. I prefer cabbage in it, but he doesn't really care for cabbage. Sometimes I finely chop the cabbage so that you can't distinguish it from onions and he's none the wiser. My mother used to put brussels sprouts in hers. brussels sprouts in my soup.

People are always asking us for recipes and some we share...some we don't. I have no problem sharing my homemade soup recipe. There's isn't really anything special about it. And, as I said earlier, I never make it the same way twice. In fact, once I browned a bunch of ground meat and used it in place of chopped beef. Another time, I didn't feel like going to the store so I left the meat out completely for a great vegetable soup. I encourage anyone trying it to put their own spin on it, too.

So, without further ado, here how I made it this time.

Ingredients for 20 quarts of soup

2 - 48 oz containers of Low Sodium Swanson Chicken Broth
1 - 64 oz bottle of Low Sodium V8 Juice
1 - 14.5 oz can Hunt's Diced Fire Roasted tomatoes or any canned tomatoes
2 - 15 oz cans Hunt's Tomato Sauce
2 - 10 oz cans Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
1 - 12 oz can Hunt's Tomato Paste
2 - 16 oz bags frozen Bird's Eye Cut Green Beans or any good, frozen green beans
2 - 16 oz bags frozen Bird's Eye Sweet Kernel Corn or any good, frozen sweet corn
1 - 32 oz bag frozen Veg-All or any good frozen vegetable mix
2 - 15.5 oz cans Goya Black Beans or any other beans that you like or have on hand
3 - large sweet onions, finely chopped
7 lbs boneless chuck roast, cut into small pieces. I bought two 3.5 lb roasts.
All purpose seasoning and kosher salt

Get cooking...

Set your burner to medium heat. In a 20 quart pot, combine the chicken broth and V8 juice. Stir in the canned tomatoes then the tomato paste. Stir well and continue stirring so the tomato paste doesn't stick to the bottom. You want to get it incorporated into the liquid. Add the veggies. Keep stirring. Remove the labels from the cans and put the cans in the dishwasher so they'll be nice and clean for a Pinterest upcycling project in your near future...or don't. In either case, take some time to clear the clutter. Now is when I chop up my onions. If I don't feel like doing a fine chop, I sometimes just cut the onions in half and then slice it up finely. We like onions, so we often cook our onions this way. If you have picky eaters, finely chopped onion is easily lost in the soup. Next, with a sharp knife, cut the meat into small, bite size pieces. A sharp knife is the key. It also makes it easy to trim away any fat. As you get a nice little pile of meat, add it to the soup. Stir. Add seasoning and salt by sprinkling generously. Stir.

Now that all of your ingredients are in the pot, add enough water to bring the level to within an inch of the rim of the pot. Turn the heat up to medium high. Stir. You want to bring it to a slow rolling boil. I usually keep it at a gentle boil for at least two hours, stirring every so often, then turn the heat down a bit and cook another hour or so. This ensures that the meat is tender and the flavors are well combined. The liquid will reduce to about three inches below the rim, concentrating the flavors even more.

For cornbread, we prefer the Jiffy Corn Muffin mix. It's a sweeter cornbread that complements the savory soup. I mix two boxes and bake in an oblong dish. When it's done, I remove it from the oven and cut it immediately then cover it with butter or margarine so that it drips into the crevices.

I usually start my soup early on a Saturday or Sunday morning so that it can cook while I'm working around the house. By late afternoon the house smells wonderful. We enjoy an early meal, then I ration it out into Glad Freezerware 8 cup containers. By bedtime, they have cooled enough to put them into the freezer. DO NOT put hot soup in your refrigerator or freezer. You run the risk of it spoiling as well as heating up the environment and spoiling everything around it.

And that's it. Easy peasy. Delicious and nutritious.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Homemade Two-Ingredient Bathroom Cleaner

I've been seeing lots of posts on Pinterest for homemade cleaning products and I've been wondering whether they really work.

This morning I woke up knowing that I needed to tackle the master bathroom - not a fun task so it's not cleaned as often as it should.  We have a huge jetted tub and tower surround constructed from that poured, man-made marble stuff. Our shower head is in the tub surround, which means water sprayed at the walls rolls down onto the deck and right onto the floor. To solve for this we have a huge set of custom, glass, sliding doors to contain the watery mess. Add very hard water to the mix and you get a really scummy, scaly, icky situation. I know it sounds disgusting, but it is what it is.

I have tried so many products to cut through the build up, with no success. Part of the problem is that to really get the shower/tub area clean I have to get into the tub. I end up getting cleaning chemicals all over me and give up before the job is done.

That is, until today!

Today's Encore stars are Dawn Dishwashing Liquid and White Vinegar appearing together in their own Encore as Bathroom Cleaner. I started off by heating 12 oz of white vinegar in the microwave for three minutes. I poured it into a spray bottle using a funnel. Then I added 12 oz of Dawn Original Dishwashing Liquid and shook gently. I sprayed down the walls, tub, doors - every surface I could reach in the shower/tub enclosure. It works on chrome, too, so all the fixtures got a heavy dose. The Dawn helped it to cling to the walls.

After about 30 minutes I took a kitchen scrubber sponge and gently scrubbed and swirled the mixture. The vinegar fumes were a little strong, but I knew they weren't harmful. I didn't get the headache or nausea that I usually experience with the store brands. As I scrubbed with one hand, I ran the other hand along the surface to check for any remaining scum. You know it's clean when it's smooth as glass. Once I had scrubbed everything down, I used a plastic cup to rinse everything down. Yes, I got wet during this process, but it was just water, soap, and vinegar so it didn't burn my skin or bleach my clothes. And it was worth it.

 I couldn't believe how well this worked. I may never buy bathroom cleaner again!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Quick and Easy Project::A Succulent Table Garden

"It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling."

"Please Do Not Remove Label Under Penalty of Law"

When I read these warnings I get the urge to defy them. I want to mix chemicals just to see if they'll create poisonous gases or cause an explosion. I want to wander the aisles of a home textiles store and rip the tag off of every pillow. I've always been up for a challenge. I love defying the odds. I've never really set out to break the law, but I do think creatively. I visit a flea market, garage sale, or Goodwill store and my wheels spin into overdrive with the possibilities.

Recently, I decided that I wanted to plant a succulent dish garden. I've always appreciated the variety of textures and colors of these hardy, water-retaining plants that are cousins to cacti. Hmmm...water retaining...maybe I feel a kinship...Anyway, I decided to pick up a few little succulent gems at Home Depot. They had a modest selection and each plant cost a little under $4. But when it came to choosing a dish, I wasn't so lucky. I wasn't sure where my little garden would be placed so I wanted a neutral container...but I didn't want terra cotta. The other containers were too deep and they were plastic. Ewwww!!! I picked up a small bag of potting soil while I was there, which completed my purchases. Yes, I know, spending less than $50 at Home Depot sounds crazy, but I did it!

potted-succulents succulents dish garden climbing aloe graptoveria Debbie alpenglow vera higgins aloe pinto rainbow bush elephant bush golden sedum string of buttons peperomia My plant selection

I then headed next door to Walmart for a few groceries and decided to peruse the aisles for just the right dish. And lo and behold, I found it in the aisle with the party platters and serving trays. Anchor Hocking makes a 13", shallow glass dish, which they call a serving tray. It was just the right size. I know Anchor Hocking did not manufacture this dish with the intention of it being used as a table top garden. But I didn't see any warning labels on it telling me not to, so I went for it! I already had bags of aquarium gravel at home, so I made my way to the checkout lanes.

anchor-hocking-glass-dish aquarium-gravel

I often do things a little backwards, and this was no exception. After purchasing my plants, I did some Googling on how to plant them properly. I learned that I should have bought cactus mix potting soil or some pumice to add to my soil. Succulents don't like wet feet, so you need to draw moisture away from them rather than hold it close. Good drainage is key.

Sooo...Here's what I did. First I decided on how I wanted to arrange them in the dish. Then I poured a nice layer of gravel in my dish. Next, I poured a layer of potting soil. I removed each plant from its pot and positioned it in the soil. I sketched the arrangement on paper, numbered each plant, and noted the name by each. There's was no way I would remember what each one was. I wiggled each planting so that the roots were kind of in the gravel. I anchored the plants in place with more potting soil, then topped it with gravel to hide the soil. During the planting process, soil and gravel spilled into the leaves of the plants so I used an old paint brush to clean them off. I removed gravel from deep in the leaves using tweezers. I watered slightly and I was done.

Succulents only need to be watered about once a week, and sparingly at that. Watering in the morning is best. They like morning light, so I placed my dish in the window of my bedroom. My original intention was to bring the dish garden to work, but from everything I read I don't think they would thrive.

Here's my finished, succulent dish garden. I'm very happy with it.

succulents dish garden climbing aloe graptoveria Debbie alpenglow vera higgins aloe pinto rainbow bush elephant bush golden sedum string of buttons peperomia

Here's an overhead shot and plant identification. Some have very cute names.

succulents dish garden climbing aloe graptoveria Debbie alpenglow vera higgins aloe pinto rainbow bush elephant bush golden sedum string of buttons peperomia
1. Climbing Aloe - aloe ciliaris
2. Graptoveria 'Debbie'
3. 'Alpenglow' 'Vera Higgins' - Graptosedum
4. Aloe Pinto
5. Rainbow Bush or Elephant Bush - Portulacaria afra 'Variegata'
6. Golden Sedum - Sedum adolphii
7. String of Buttons - Crassula perforata
8. Peperomia - Peperomia ferreyrae

Succulents will grow in just about any kind of container, as long as they have good drainage. Here are some more clever ideas for growing your own.

A living succulent wreath for year-round color by Julie Martens. Project instructions from Better Homes & Gardens.

tea cup succulents
Do you enjoy hunting for tea cups at the flea market? You can use them to showcase succulents in a sunny window.

Barbara Jordan Dettweiler works succulents into her interior design in clever ways, like these vintage silver champagne glasses. You can read about it on her blog, Haus Design.

Succulent turtle topiary available from Simply Succulents

Do you prefer glowing rather than growing? Here are some beautiful succulent candles from

How about sewing instead of growing? This cushion's design was inspired by the Euchavaria succulent. It's by Ronel Jordaan and can be found on

The simple elegance of succulents can be adapted to any decorating style and their drought tolerance means you don't have a green thumb to grow them. I'm sure you'll see them in future posts as I find new ways to work them into my own home.

Want to see more great projects that you can do yourself? Join me at the Addicted 2 Decorating Link Party every Friday afternoon!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Do you Tangerine Tango?


I have a thing for bright colors in the coral family - brilliant coral reds, fiery coral oranges, and vibrant coral pinks. My wardrobe has reflected this through the years. And when it comes to flowers, especially roses, make them a bright shade of coral. I was so excited when Pantone announced their 2012 Color of the Year: Pantone 17-1463 Tangerine Tango. It's a bright, reddish orange that reminds me of a highly polished coral cabochon gem. We will not dwell on the fact that it is also reminiscent of the burnt orange color so popular in 1970's interior design. I mean, what child of the 70's doesn't remember the Brady Bunch kitchen?


I question their choice to include the word "tangerine" in the name. I mean, I like tangerines and "tangerine tango" is a really cool name, but I've never seen a tangerine this color. If they would have asked me what I thought the name should be, I would have named it something like "Coral Captivation". But they didn't ask me and now they've made the big announcement, so there's no turning back at this point.

I was so inspired by this bold and energetic color that I decided to feature it in the color palette for this blog. The blog had originally been created to showcase my photography, so I kept it dark, avoiding color so as not to detract from the photos. But now that I've switched directions, I decided it needed a fresh new look with cheerful and vibrant colors. I combined the vibrant orange with a pale blue since, in this case, opposites really do attract! Now I just need to decide whether to keep the dark gray body color, or change it to something lighter and brighter. What do you think?

This fiery orange-red color also reminds me of some of the most beautiful sunsets that I have been lucky enough to photograph at Lake Martin-Cypress Island Preserve in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, just a few minutes from my home. This is one of my favorites. If you like sunsets, or just nature photography in general, I have an entire Lake Martin, Cypress Island Preserve set on Flickr.

Glow - 6:12 p.m."Glow" by kim dever thibodeaux

Check out Out of Curiosity::Is Orange for You? a post by Kristi Linauer on her blog, Addicted 2 Decorating. She's just a state over in Waco, Texas. Her blog inspired me to revive this blog. Her talent and bravado have resulted in some amazing makeovers. She has the job I dream of!

Here are some inspirational photos of designs that feature colors similar to Tangerine Tango and, in some cases, have been paired with blues similar to my selection.

captivating modern living room design in green color ideas

This next one really evokes the feeling I'm striving for in my Master Bedroom Makeover.

pale blue walls orange accents beach feelingMorgan Harrison Home featured on

So tell me now...Do you Tangerine Tango?