Tired Glue Gun Trigger Finger (Or How to Make a Chandelier from Coffee Filters)

A few months ago, I discovered the DIY instructions for making a chandelier out of a chinese lantern and coffee filters, and I just HAD to try it. Not because I had any need for the fluffy orb, mind you, but because it just looked like fun to make. I figured I’d will it into some sort of design submission eventually….

Initially, I only intended to make one hanging pendant, but in a turn of events that surprises no one… I got carried away.

As soon as I finished covering my 14″ paper lantern with coffee filters, I went to Pier 1 to buy the actual light bulb part of the lamp. I learned that Pier 1 doesn’t sell hanging light fixtures in California. (It’s due to some law requiring all lamps sold in the state to come with a light bulb in them.)

SO, I had to buy a battery-operated LED pack instead. A few cool things came out of this:

1) The battery-operated element solved my “how-in-hell-am-I-going-to-hide-the-cord?” conundrum.


2) The remote controlled version of the LED only came in a 3-pack. This inspired me to make two more orbs of smaller size.

Of course I ran into some other pitfalls along with way, and I will share them with you to spare you from making my mistakes.

First of all, I recommend semi-soothing music for this task — especially if you’re the hyper sort like me. It takes a long time to cover the orbs, and you’ll start to go a little crazy if you’re listening to, say, the GG Remix of Grenade.

I had to break up the task over about a week and a half to keep myself sane – and to prevent blisters from forming on my glue gun trigger finger.

Incidentally, it also helped that I was still in the “training my Mary J. Blige Pandora Station” stage because I had to stop what I was doing frequently to inform Pandora, “I would like more Trey Songz pretty please.” And, “Less LMFAO, thank you very much.” (LMFAO belongs on my Britney station. For real.)

In all, I think it took about 1,000 coffee filters, and about 300 miniature glue sticks to complete the task.

I still need to adjust the placement of the lanterns now that I have three of them. I also haven’t completed embellishing the orbs with ribbons and beads yet, but I’ll get around to it, eventually….

Oh, and I have absolutely NO idea how to dust them.

Any suggestions?

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Free Stuff is Fun (Or How to Remove Carpet Indentations with Ice Cubes)

I love free things. Like really love free things. And by free things I mean, actually free. Not the kind of free that’s free for the first 30 days and then you have to remember to cancel or you get stuck paying $50 a month until you get around to calling.

So, when I came across a trick for removing the indentations in your carpet using only ice cubes, I was like, “Um, yes please. I have ice cubes.”

Today I decided to give it a shot. I discovered it’s best to put the ice cubes down when your dogs are in a coma-like napping state after a long hike. You probably shouldn’t do it when they’re feeling frisky from putting their faces in your morning latte. If you do it that way you end up with dogs who think it’s a game to lick and kick the cubes all over your carpet.

That was sort of how the first round of my ice cube experiment went.

Albus began licking the ice cubes while Woodley watched cautiously. Then Albus discovered it was super fun to kick the cubes. Still, Woodley watched. She eventually summoned the courage to approach the ice and quickly began contributing to the chaos as well. She’s never the instigator, but she’s always a willing participant once she overcomes her initial trepidation of, well, everything.

There I was, eager to see if the trick worked, and they were convinced we were playing a game. I placed the cubes on the carpet. They hit them. I put them back. They hit them again. And so on until I distracted them with bison and sweet potato biscuits….

So anyway, here’s what I discovered:

It actually works if you can keep your animals away.

Also, after the ice melts you have to use your hand to rub the carpet fibers back and forth to get them to stand up. One application of ice cubes was sufficient for the shallow indentations, but it took three applications of ice for the deeper dents.

After surveying my free fix I put on a little Oh Carolina and did a happy dance to some vintage Shaggy, circa 1993.

Too bad the ice cubes can’t fix how ugly the carpet is….

Do you have any easy tips you want share?

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We’re Happy Puppies! (Or We Received the Illuminating Blogger Award)


Albus, Woodley, and I were very proud puppies when we were awarded the Illuminating Blogger Award by Kenley of Beyond the Green Door. If you don’t know about Kenley’s blog, you should check it out. She writes about great stuff! Also, she lives north of Austin, Texas where I long to live.


I have spent nearly 11 years in LA, slowly growing apart from the city I once loved. It’s still home, but I desperately want to escape. Daily.

I sometimes think I’m still here out of inertia – or the delusion that I will one day meet a single guy in this city who doesn’t drink white wine at bars and owns at least one hammer.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the sunshine and the sushi, but I miss humidity and affordable real estate. Before I quit my job in the entertainment industry, I was considering buying a home. Rat-infested crack houses on my side of the hill run around half a million, so I was looking at places deep in the San Fernando Valley where none of my remaining single friends would ever venture. Ever.

SO, anyway, I quit my job (long story), threw away my real estate dream, and started redecorating my apartment instead.

I have always suffered from the condition of don’t-bother-to-do-anything-unless-you-can-do-it-big syndrome, but I was determined to change that.

I started decorating my tiny apartment because I couldn’t rip down the walls in a new home. I took a three-day ski trip with my dogs because I couldn’t afford to go to Aspen for a week. I drove up the coast and hit dog beaches from Santa Barbara to San Francisco and stayed in the Motel 6 instead of the Four Seasons. I made my own small compost bin because I didn’t have room on my tiny balcony for a bigger one….

And that was sort of the birth of this blog.

By returning to writing and my childhood love of art and design, I feel inspired each morning. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who reads my posts, and I hope you all find inspiration to follow your heart the way I did.

Below are five blogs I enjoy. They are all worthy of the Illuminating Blogger Award, and I’m pleased to nominate each of them.

LindO Designs: Angela is an incredibly talented artist, architect, and designer. Her blog includes DIY projects and lots of informative links. You can also visit her Etsy stores to purchase the objects she refinishes and designs!

Southern Secrets Carolina Style: Not only does Jen have a great eye, but she also conveys a strong sense of Carolina pride. She makes her readers feel like they have just visited North Carolina without leaving their living rooms. Her blog features great recipes and party planning ideas.

346 Living: This blog is full of fabulous photos and fantastic step-by-step instructions for DIY projects that anyone can tackle. I adore the blog, and the photos of the precious pups are an added bonus!

Parlour Home Blog: Nichole is an interior designer with a great eye. Her blog includes inspiring design ideas and DIY projects!

You Are My Fave: Melanie’s blog is full of delicious recipes, fabulous DIY projects, and inspiring event-planning ideas.

Patience is a Virtue I Don’t Possess (Or How to Make a Dipped Vase)

I share a birthday with Tony Bennett,  Tom Brady, and Martha Stewart. While I can’t sing to save my life, or throw a spiral like a Super Bowl MVP, I do fancy myself rather handy with a glue gun and glitter paint.

Today I decide to make a gold dipped vase I found on You Are My Fave.

I start with Martha’s gold paint left over from my dipped table experiment and a $6 vase from Home Goods. I pop on a little Jay-Z featuring Panjabi MC and get to work. I pour the gold paint into a bowl and dip the top of the vase inside. Then I set the vase on a brown paper bag and wait.

It doesn’t look like enough paint, so I pour a little more around the rim of the vase to create additional drips.

It’s supposed to be easy, but of course I manage to mess it up the first time. (Maybe I’m not much like Martha either….) The good thing about this project is that you can simply peel off the paint and start over if you don’t like the finished project.

Here’s what I learned about dipping vases:

It doesn’t take much gold paint to create the look. I overdid it the first time because I underestimated how far a little paint would travel down the side of the vase. Pouring the extra paint around the rim of the vase made too many drippy bits coming down the side and made the finished product look messy.

In the end, you just have to be patient (not my strong suit) while the paint slowly drips down the side, and it’ll all work out. This is probably some sort of metaphor for life, but I’m not really in the mood to be philosophical today. It’s probably because I’m grooving to a little hip hop Bhangra.

I haven’t decided what to put in the vase yet, but I’ll eventually get around to it when I’m done stenciling tiny birch trees all over my hallway walls. (More on that later…)

I’m leaning toward some sort of white crepe paper flowers so I don’t have to continually update a wilting mess of a floral arrangement.


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Operation: Party Planning Has Commenced! (Or How to Make Watermelon Pirate Ships)

Photographic evidence that there was, in fact, a sippy cup at my party. Note: it was NOT filled with vodka. We are old.

“When did we go from shot luges to sippy cups at my birthday party?!?” I asked, a bit aghast. It was August 2011, and I was beginning to realize things had really changed over the years.

It has now been nearly nine years since the birthday party that will go down in infamy. Let’s just say there was a lot of Lil’ Jon blasting and a girl no one knew was eating spinach dip out of the bowl with her hands. (When people who are going on nine hours of partying refer to you simply as, “Drunk Girl,” you know you’re a mess.) One of us spotted her on Beauty and the Geek years later, and a flurry of texts went out among the crew along the lines of, “Drunk Girl is on the WB!”

These days the only party-goers eating dip with their hands are toddlers. Things change, and that’s OK.

So, anyway, it’s almost time for my next party and I’m already excited.

Tonight, I’m hosting a party planning dinner for one of my best friends with whom I share a birthday. (She happens to save people’s lives for a living so there are now a lot more doctors at my parties than aspiring reality stars.) For the last four low-key years we’ve held a joint birthday party with fabulous food and an ever-increasing number of small children. What we lack in chaos and debauchery, we now make up for in elaborate entrees and aesthetics….

I desperately want to throw a pirate party, and this evening I’m hoping to convince my friend that we need a dessert table, complete with treasure maps, pearls, and a papier mache kraken centerpiece.

I decide to make watermelon boat centerpieces for a little pirate party inspiration….

Feeling nostalgic for my wilder days, I crank up Hank Williams, Jr.’s All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down) and set about fruit carving.

Trader Joe’s only had odd, circular watermelons, so my ships are going to be more skiff-like, but I’ll get over it. This is just a rough draft anyway.

I cut the watermelon lengthwise, and prepare to hollow out the ships. I realize I don’t own a melon baller, and I’m struck with a feeling of intense shame. (I must add this to my birthday list along with the First Aid Flask I desperately want.)

I use an ice cream scoop to hollow out the boats because it’s the best I can do for now. I then place the melon balls back into the boat in case my friend wants to eat the centerpieces.

I cut paper sails and pierce them with wooden skewers. I then insert the skewer sails into the boats. I cut toothpicks and use them to anchor Kermit and Yoda’s feet to their pirate skiffs.

I finish the display by surrounding the boats with a cadre of plastic sharks… just because.

My ships aren’t awesome, but they’ll serve as decent visual aids. Plus they were fun to make.

Here’s hoping the pirate theme passes….

Captain Kermit and his Jedi companion steer their watermelon skiffs through treacherous shark-infested waters.

Mama Doesn’t Like Ugly (Or How to Make a Table With Dipped Legs)

“Mama doesn’t like ugly,” I tell the dogs. We’re sitting on the bed, looking around my mess of a bedroom. Albus cocks his big Boxer head inquisitively as if to ask, “What is this ugly you speak of? Am I ugly?”

“You’re terribly handsome,” I say, petting him. Woodley gives me a haughty look as I’m petting her brother. “Well, I’M gorgeous,” her face seems to say. Somehow I know her arrogant demeanor belies an incredible insecurity, so I stroke her head and tell her how pretty she is. (They may only understand peanut butter treats and pats on the head, but I don’t really care. I’m convinced they’re smarter than all that.)

My bedroom redesign is entering month four and I’m at my wit’s end with it. I wish I hadn’t spent $500 plus on purple Anthropologie bedding last spring, and I’m hating my chocolate brown headboard. The colors aren’t coming together cohesively, and I’m starting to feel like I will lose square footage if I put another coat of paint on the walls.

There have been many iterations of the room along the way and most of them have left me frustrated… and so has my limited budget. I resolve to accept my limited means, trying to convince myself that poverty inspires creativity. I stare at the awkwardly large lamp sitting on the tiny telephone table I bought ten years ago. The lamp HAS to go. It’s not a bad lamp, per se, but it doesn’t work in the room any longer. The telephone table has good bones, but the chestnut finish isn’t working with the rest of the room. AT ALL.

The lamp isn’t bad. It just worked better with the safari theme I abandoned about three weeks ago.

Don’t get me started on the drapes, the mirror, or the aquarium…. Those items will have to wait. Today I’m tackling the table – and I’m buying a new lamp. After scouring the internet for a cheap lighting option, I give up and head to Home Goods in desperation.

Mercifully, the design gods are smiling on me. A lamp similar to the $200 lamp I could not afford from Home Decorators Collection is calling to me from the Home Goods shelf. “It’s official: God wants me to have a pretty bedroom,” I tell myself. (I am the master of rationalization in the face of a good deal.)

I walk across the street to the mall, cradling my new purchase like a baby. I find a new knob for the table at Anthropologie that is only $6.

$6? At Anthropologie? Sold!

The crystal knob mirrors the crystal balls on the base of the lamp… and the knob is shiny. (I love shiny.) I must have this knob.

I return home (only mildly panicking about my purchases), fueled with resolve to tackle the ugly-ish table. I decide to use the paint leftover from my turquoise wall, convinced it will unify the turquoise half of the room with the gray half. I remember I had pinned a dipped table on Pinterest a while back and this seems like the best way to give the table a facelift. For some reason I decide to use gold for the legs….

After my 14th trip to Home Depot in like four days, I return home with a tub of Martha’s gold paint and a level. (During this trip I discover it’s a terrible idea to wear pink to Home Depot, but that’s a story for another time.) The level is essential for the project, and it makes me feel like a legitimate contractor… or something.

I begin the rehab by sanding the varnish off of the table with my power sander. There is dust flying everywhere, and I am a happy panda. (Long story on the panda thing.)

Once the chestnut finish is gone, I put on a playlist featuring Gotye, and cover the table in turquoise paint. When the turquoise has dried, I use the level to make pencil marks around the legs. I then use the painter’s tape to tape off the area that I will paint gold. I double-check the tape lines, making sure they are level.

Now I’m on my stomach, painting the first coat of gold. I’m trying desperately to keep the dogs away, but they’re terribly interested in my project. Somehow, Woodley winds up with gold on her ears, and I notice Albus has a mysterious turquoise strip on his side. I’m not mad. They are now sporting badass warrior paint, and I can brush it out anyway….

While we’re waiting for the first coat of gold to dry, we take a long walk during which Albus makes new friends, and Woodley eats the neighbors’ grass like a ravenous goat.

After returning home, I decide the inside of the drawer should be gold as well. This way some of the gold will show around the edge of the drawer in some sort of subtle manner. It’s not a bad idea, and it actually turns out well.

After the paint has dried, I spray on a coat of water-based acrylic sealant on the table. After a full day of drying, the table is ready. I screw in the new knob, insert the drawer, and place the new lamp on top. The room isn’t done, but at least I’ve eradicated one more bit of ugly from the place.

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