How to display dog decor and not be that “crazy dog lady”

Ok, our friends know we’re big fans, of the wet noses and furry kids…However we don’t want the house decor “dog centric.” Therefore to clear up any confusion here are some of my dog decor tips without being that “crazy dog lady”

1. Stake out one small corner of your house. In this case we have this over-sized ugly built in. It was just this wall of orange shelves. See before pic:

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(Don’t judge this was before we moved in. We are still trying to figure out what we’re going to do with it. Unfortunately we’ve found the extra storage, shelves and desk are pretty functional, so a complete knock down is not an option right now)

2. Mix in and re-use some of your other home decor so it doesn’t seem entirely dog focused.  Rather think dog, use decor that reminds you of them. Our dogs are all about chasing squirrels and sticks so I displayed a little metal squirrel nutcracker grandma gave us and added a large piece of polished wood.

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3. Why not give it function? Display those dog treats proudly! Your furry kids need a cookie jar too. (We reused some of our wedding cookie jars for dog treats and bones)

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Sweet! Dog decor subtly displayed and ugly built in looking a bit better…

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We Don’t Do “Easy”

DIYers can attest to the mantra, “we don’t do easy.” Especially a DIYer with the guts and gumption to buy an ugly, old, fixer home. Did you experience “the look” from friends and family when you were showing them your “little bundle of joy” the 60+ year old bungalow/cottage/mid century/craftsman, etc that you were now about to buy? The one with the roof so bad that looked like it was a hobbit’s home. The one with the tri- color master bath, the twenty six different kinds of wallpaper, and the ultimate, modern day, home- buying sin… the one without a dishwasher. (For shame!)

You know, “the look” where the friends and family glance at you as if you’ve grown a unicorn horn and your freckles turned to skittles. DIYers know if we chose the “easy” way, we would be stuck in a cookie cutter home, possibly in a location that required uber commuting, and neighbors living on top of you. (At least out here in California). If we did “easy” we’d call for the nearest handyman, or contractor, and be overcharged for a renovation with no heart and a cost that left us with no money.

DIYers have learned there is an intrinsic value of not doing “easy.” Primarily that value is experience and knowledge. Yes, the creative, mechanical, part of us loves to tinker, craft and play in the mud. However the real reason we DIY is for the gained experience. We also want to save a ton of money, but more importantly we want to push the experience envelope. We want that badge of honor in the form of fork-sized splinters, rough hands, and biceps that would put Madonna’s to shame.

When friends and family ask “how did you do that? You will have the experience and knowledge to explain or help them. Gained experience is so much more valuable (and fun) than “easy”. Don’t do easy! This can be related to so many aspects of our lives, not just home improvement. If struggling with a decision, or life issue, remember this well known quote, “All things worth doing are never easy.” Instead do creative, frustrating, sweat equity, and cheap, do it yourself. Gain experience, start small, take classes. Also evaluate your skill level and time against the huge list of tasks. Oftentimes if you know yourself well enough through experience gained, you can diagnose a task quickly and ask for help. Sometimes professional help is necessary when it involves safety, but at least you had the wisdom. knowledge, and experience to know when to ask.

Does “easy” not work for you either? Not just DIY, but also other aspects of our life?

Driftwood Wall Art

We are living f-r-u-g-a-l-l-y these days! As much as I’d love’on some newer Ikea wall prints and frames, I decided free wall art is better…

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Here’s the How to break down on this fab freebie…

1. We had some metal braces and left over wood from the fences, so basically I lined them up, and screwed the wood together from behind. (What was so fabulous about using fence wood is that it is unfinished and imperfect, no distressing required. Yay!) Then stained the wood with Minwax Wood finish stain in gray, to give it the look of driftwood.

2. Later I stole the hub’s projector from the mancave, used microsoft Word and a sharpie to stencil the writing.

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3. Then with left over interior white paint, (Glidden pebble white) hand painted the stenciled writing.

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4. Once dried, I added picture frame hardware and wire to the back, and DONE! Wannabe- Driftwood Wall Art! Office/Guest room walls are completely decorated! Not bad for a freebie!

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DIY Winebox Centerpieces

One of the questions I’m always asked about the wedding, “how did you create your centerpieces?” We wanted centerpieces that would be “green” and also double as wedding favors. (The flowers are potted and guests could take them home with them)


Believe it or not they are really simple, quick and inexpensive to make…Here’s how we did it:

(Pssst…the following How to is a reenactment…)

1) You’ll need a smaller winebox, 4 small pots of flowers (for this I used Lucia dark blue), a foil baking pan, 1 large can of tomatos (yes, I know this sounds weird so far), crinkle paper filler, ribbon pieces of your choice, a medium sized candle and holder. (Recommendation: water the flowers the evening before and outside of the arrangement. Don’t try to water them once the centerpieces are made)

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2) Bend and fit the aluminum baking pan into the wine box upside down.

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(Its ok if it looks ugly, the purpose is for it to give your plants a little lift)

3) Place your tomato can in the middle and surround it by the plants (1 plant in each corner is a good rule of thumb)

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4) Once all the plants are in place, add the candle and glass holder on top of the can. Then add the crinkle paper filler and ribbon pieces along the top of each pot. (For the sake of this how to, I used some left over materials from a recent gift. Craft stores have a variety of crinkle paper colors, the ones used for our wedding were a natural brown color.) Then hide the top of the pots with the paper filler, you want them to look as if you just opened a box full of flowers

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5) Here are some variations to the idea…Don’t like the crinkle paper filler? Then use pieces of sheet moss instead…Don’t like the ribbon?  What about burlap instead? You can easily attach burlap ribbon to the outside of the box by using a hand held staple gun.

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6) Don’t need a centerpiece? Then use them as pretty garden or porch decor…

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Best piece of advice for brides and to save money…Start collecting the supplies a little at a time if you have enough time. (Every time we had a Michael’s coupon we were off buying ribbon or paper filler) We also spread out the cost of the materials over a year and stockpiled them until use. We asked ahead from the local home depot which flowers would be on sale and available in September which was why we used mums and daisies. You can also save money by growing your own flowers, but beware this would take a lot of planning, care and a green thumb.

Sac-Town in the movies!

Never fails! I always have to post or edit something late on Sunday night…Maybe because I don’t want Monday to come? Just a theory… However I wanted to give a quick
shout-out (or “post out”) to Frances Ha for featuring Sacramento in the movie. The star of the movie Greta Gerwig is from our ‘hood’ here in Sac. Fabulously funny movie! Go see it!

A Few Inexpensive Updates…Drum light Ceiling Fan

I’ve been ever so slowly updating the office/guest room for the past….ummmm…year! We’ve  been in “hunker down and save” mode these past several months. That said, I hope to someday post some killer “after” pics but for now here are a few inexpensive updates anyone can do.

1) Add a $20 rug…I found this lovely one at Ikea…Our dogs are like magnets to a new rug…They are the official rug “flatten squad”. ipone pics 090

2) Update the room’s lighting…I traded out an old sit-a-top desk lamp for this plug-in Target pendant on clearance for $24. (Luckily I had a left over gift card handy so it was a freebie) I also washed, ironed and re-used hand me down drapes from the master bedroom.

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3) Go crazy with drum shades! Total cost ($23 thanks to a few Ross finds and some connector pieces at Home Depot)

#1 light update, here is a lamp given to us for free…[Sigh] the difference a drum shade can make…

Before lamp before piclamp after pic After

#2 shade update, modernize an old ceiling fan with a drum shade…

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Very easy project…Just see the following steps:

1) Find a triangle or old standard drum shade (not the kind where the shade attaches to the bulb base)

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2) Based on the light fixtures you intend to hide, find an extender piece that will allow for enough space and hanging length. (Consider switching out or adding longer pull chains). You will also need some hex nuts and couplings. These can all be found in the lighting section of Home Depot normally next to the fan light kits.

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3) In our case we flipped the shade over and secured it to the base of the fan light using a coupling and hex nut. Then adding a chain extender to the bottom chain, slid the chain through the shade extender and coupling. Next I screwed the shade extender into the coupling at the base of the fan. (See pics below)

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4) We tested it to ensure the fan did not actually hit the shade. We also allowed enough air space between the lights and shade (After all we don’t need a fire hazard in the new home)

Yay! Instant update for a fraction of the cost of a new fan light kit.

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TV Stand Turned Wine Rack (Ikea Hack)

This is just a little spin off from the in progress Mancave Makeover… We are all about recycle, reuse, and re-purpose. Primarily because of our very little home renovation budget.  We had this old Ikea book cabinet/TV stand from our first home. I had hung some curtains in it just to hide the mountains of mismatched textbooks (Seen below in a First Home Flashback)

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Then it was passed on to the garage for storing odds and ends…(seen below)

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Finally after searching the stores for inexpensive wine racks that could handle 50+ bottles (We had a lot of left over wine from the wedding). Most costing $50 and up!

I found my way to home depot and bought about 20+ ft worth of wooden dowels and battery operated LED lights. (Total cost just under $25) Cutting the dowels by hand and to the width of the shelves, hammering them in, and attaching the lights with sticky tape…VOILA! Beat up Ikea shelving to basement wine cellar.

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Dogscape Update!

We can officially report Stumpy the diseased peach tree is dead and gone! Hallelujah!

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Normally I love trees, but this one was growing mushrooms, and all the branches were diseased. The peaches would fall before ripening, rot and invite all sorts of interesting wildlife into our backyard. We live near the river and some nights I felt we were in an animal planet documentary.Also peaches, especially the peach pits, should not go in a dog’s intestinal tract. (No, I will not go into further detail regarding our experience)


Thanks to our good friend, Erik at Placer Green Landscaping and Maintenance (who came over at 7am) and hubby, they tackled the job together. With a stump grinder the “Ericks” took care of Stumpy once and for all. (While I was doing the snoopy dance from the house)

Aside from the brown grass and huge hole, we now have a clean slate! Next on the To Do List will be to build a raised bed, automatic watering systems, plant more plants and add flagstone!

Put it down on paper…It is cheaper!

When inspiration strikes us, whether that be a new outfit, table lamp, even buying a new home, we get so caught up in the doing, that we can often forget the planning. We like that new pair of shoes at Nordstroms, or a new bed at Pottery Barn, and we forget this one purchase will blow the budget. I am totally to blame for this at times, it has been a challenge over the years to reign in the fuzzy feelings of inspiration. After a good idea strikes, I don’t just jump in with two feet, I do a running cannon ball!

Luckily we learned from the first house, that if you intend to remodel or landscape, it is cheaper to plan it on paper first rather than plunge into the project. We felt under the gun when renovating our first home;

1) Because we were surrounded by ugly (I’m talking purple hallways, popcorn ceilings, you name it, we had it, in that house)

2) It was barely livable (neither bathroom hardly worked, and we were living on swatches of blue outdoor carpet)

We rushed to finish projects and beautify so much that we had drained our savings quite a bit. Add a life crisis into the mix and we were struggling and scared for a time. In the trenches, is where I learned to budget, and put all ideas and expenses down on paper first, before the doing. Even now, as we know a new roof for our current home is a pending expense , we are hunkering down and slowing our roll. We’ll have to be satisfied with small projects and small purchases for awhile. Creativity saves the budget, and putting all the ideas down on paper will pay dividends in the end.


Its the work week and as we’re busy with projects on the current house so I thought I’d share a project from our first home. (Warning: the pics used in this post are circa Christmas 2010 and a bit fuzzy)

The Murphy Dog bed came to fruition when I had to stash the dog beds in the garage and clean up before guests arrived. When I brought them back into the house, I brought also a BW (black widow) in as well! EWWWW! Creeped me out royally! Hence I needed a place to stash or fold away dog beds when not in use but didn’t want to drag them into the bedrooms.



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BUT WHOA! DOG BEDS…murphy dog beds 010

They were a bit unfinished (this was my first foray into cabinetry and staining, I’ve learned a bit since then)

Lets take a walk down memory lane…

Here are some before pics:

This was what we originally moved into…It was a major fixer foreclosure after all…

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Then we re-painted and added a granite breakfast bar…Improvement…

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We still needed a place for the dogs to sleep and they’d grown out of their crates. Our  bedroom was not an option, since it was and still is the only dog free zone in the house. (These pups can snore like no other!) Therefore I had to get creative…

After measuring the space under the counter top and a standard Costco dog bed, I had wood cut to dimensions that would form a large box with a lid. After adding some heavy duty door hardware, and screwing everything together I let them test it out.

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They didn’t seem to have an issue with it and I made sure the folding mechanism was working. Next came creating a second box and adding a cabinet facade…However the trick of the front details was that the extra pieces of wood were actually additional support  pieces for when 90 lbs of doberman laid on them.

I had to strategically glue fake molding from Home depot to add detail to the facade of cabinets. One of the mistakes you’ll see at the bottom, that I originally made was not lining up the front piece perfectly with the box. Oh well, I luckily corrected it on the second Murphy Bed….

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Then painted and added low profile hardware to give the look of cabinets and drawers. We also added a little safety chain and latch on the inside to prevent any injuries. (When completed the front piece was heavier than expected and we didn’t want to lose any toes from it falling). We also secured the back box portion to the wall for stabilization, just in case of an earthquake or even just rambunctious play.

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Unfortunately this is a project from the first home so I don’t have any specific notes on the wood used, or the dimensions. However since these are custom pieces we hope you will at least find some inspiration from ours. We are currently in the process of making another set of dog beds for the new place. We’ll have to reveal those soon…