“What’s in the oven?” I turned to see Mr B’s hopeful eyes as he came home from golf. “Um….Pine Cones.”  His eyes rolled up to the back of his head. And he walked off mumbling something about “Betty Crocker.”

I was surprised by the number of questions I got recently when I posted about bleaching pine cones on Face Book. I didn’t realize how many peeps hadn’t heard of it. So of course I needed to write a blog post about it. I mean, come on…..everyone needs to bleach some cones!  And this is easy, I promise.

compared to the natural one, the color change is pretty dramatic

You will need:

Dry, open pine cones. Don’t use those that have been scented. Scented cones won’t bleach, or at least that’s what I was told…..I never really tried after that because I trusted my source.  If you don’t have pine trees within a reasonable distance of your home, you can order unscented pine cones through Amazon. (If there is anything I can’t find on Amazon, I have yet to discover it.)   And if you’re picking up cones from under trees, make sure you choose fully opened ones. If they aren’t open that means they are still full of sap and won’t take the bleach.



Bucket or deep container

Something to hold the cones down while bleaching

Rubber gloves and safety glasses

I mix “about” 50/50 bleach and water,  truthfully I just eyeball it. I mix it so that the water still looks slightly yellow from the bleach. Don’t use full strength bleach, it will “eat” the petals from the cones. I’ve tried using full strength a couple of times with the same results. The cones were soft and mostly disintegrated after three days.

These still need to be weighted down

Make sure you wear gloves and safety glasses when mixing the bleach and water to avoid splashes in your eyes.

After the bleach and water is mixed, place your pine cones in the bucket and weigh them down with something. I mostly use a plate, turned upside down….I’ve used the bleach jug, or pots to keep the plate down. Doesn’t matter what you use as long as it won’t be harmed by the bleach. The object is to keep the cones under water. I turn mine after the first day just to make sure they get evenly bleached. I leave the cones in the mixture for two days.  You can go for three if your solution is weak. With practice you’ll get your procedure down for the results you want.

weight them down by covering with an old plate held in place with anything that’s heavy

When pine cones are wet they close up. You’ll think the bleach isn’t working because frankly, they look yucky. (Technical term) They may be whitish and feel a bit slimey. Take them out at that point and rinse under running water. Drain for a few minutes on a paper towel while you set your oven to 150 degrees. I set mine at 200° if I’m in a particular hurry, which is often….um, because I was born without the patience gene. Place foil on an old cookie sheet and place the cones on the foil with a couple of inches between each cone for air circulation. No, they won’t stink up the kitchen if rinsed and after spending two or three days in bleach I’ve never seen any critters. The drying process will take several hours. Check your cones often.

Getting close, you can see the light color starting to show in between the petals. Maybe another day.
These were in the solution for 3 days, not my normal 2. They’re lighter than the last batch! 
These are ready to come out of the oven

Bake until the cones are about 75% open. Remove from the oven and let them continue to dry over the next few days. You can leave them in a sunny, dry place outside but it can take days for them to open. And who wants to wait days to see bleached pine cones??? Not me. Again… patience. It’s a curse. After the cones are fully open, you can spray them with a matte sealer, Krylon makes a good one for art projects. Fair warning…..sealers may darken the color a bit.

I’ve yet to achieve totally white cones. Mine come out various shades of tan and cream.  But I think they are lovely. I love the faded color as well as the texture they bring. You may think they’re not very light until you put them next to normal, unbleached cones. I did another batch a few days ago and left them in the bleach and water for three days, they came out lighter than the two day batch, but my solution was weak and I felt another day wouldn’t cause them any harm. It’s trial and error.

I was asked why I just didn’t paint them if I wanted white cones…, because they wouldn’t be “natural.”  I like that my cones are real, albeit not the color Mother Nature intended. There’s just something about taking a pine cone that’s perfectly fine, beautiful in its own right, and bleaching the crap out of it…. Improving on Mother Nature??? Maybe. It’s all about perspective. You may feel that I’ve ruined them and that’s OK.  I like my bleached cones.

As for Mr B, don’t feel too sorry for him. He got snickerdoodle cookies. Fresh from the oven. The Target oven. In the handy Target bakery.

Create the home you see in your heart, right where you are living now. Everyone deserves a sanctuary.



Hey everyone, things are slowly but surely getting back to normal here in my sanctuary. Mostly. There are still projects and repairs to be done after Irma, but that’s just the real life of home ownership.  There’s always something that needs doing. Today’s post is about bringing some fall into your home. It’s also one of the easiest projects I’ve done in awhile. And uses one of my favorite decor items…..old books. And no paint. gasp! No paint!

Remember cutting out paper doll chains in elementary school?  This project is like that……only different. OK….. it’s kind of like that. You’ll be cutting on a fold but your leaves will be separate. OK, it’s nothing like cutting out paper doll chains! But it IS easy.

I pick up old books regularly  at thrift stores. For $1.00 or less, an old book can be used in multiple ways, from acting as a riser for small lamps, plants and statues, to providing gift wrap, or paper for making paper mache. The muted color of old covers adds a sense of history to rooms and bonus! makes you look all Miss Smarty Pants and well read in the process. Larger books on birds and plants offer inexpensive art  by framing pages. Or frame a page that contains a passage that has special meaning to you.

I used to have an extreme dislike of cutting up old books. I still won’t destroy pages of most. I have a couple of stacks that give me a seemingly endless supply of project material. I’ll often scan and copy pages for projects. To me, destroying a book is akin to kicking a puppy. And I don’t kick puppies. But even I have to face the fact that an out of date atlas has served its purpose…. so it goes into the scrap pile for projects. And some old books are in such disrepair that using them for projects is actually a good thing. Recycling it so that the whole book doesn’t go into the landfill. I used both for this project, an out of date atlas that I’ve used for a couple other projects and a water damaged older book with discolored pages.  The color of those pages was perfect for adding some contrast.

You will need: books of your choice. Sharp scissors, fall leaf templates, or pressed and dried leaves to use as a template, a marker or pencil, and string, twine or ribbon.

First, fold your book pages in half and then trace the shape of the leaf being careful to put the top of the stem on the fold. (If you are using real leaves and there is no longer a stem, just draw one.)  Cut out your shape, making sure not to cut through the fold. You’ll end up with two leaves joined at the top of the stem. You don’t have to be precise. Just cut around the  lines you’ve drawn. Some of mine ended up with the pen outline still showing. I just turned them over and re-creased so that the pen markings were on the inside. The tracing lines can’t be seen. Or maybe they can and I wasn’t wearing my glasses….. If you are OCD, just cut ON the line. Or inside it. Perfect fall leaves from book pages!

Cut as many as you need to make a banner. Tie your string or twine on your mantel, across a shelf, along a buffet or bannister… get the idea. Then simply drape your leaves over the string. Slide them on the string evenly. That’s it. It can’t get any simpler than this project. Unless someone else does it for you…… I’m looking at you, Mr B. He loves when I eyeball him with a pair of scissors in hand. He gets really excited.

I used both the atlas pages and the discolored book pages so my leaves would have different colors. This project is one you can enjoy with your kids. Just make sure they use scissors with the rounded tips if they are under 10. “Stop running with those scissors, you’ll put someone’s eye out!!!” Oh, sorry, lost myself for a minute.

Live in an area without autumn leaves? Add extra book page leaves to displays


You can use construction paper or heavy gift wrap, kraft paper or butcher’s paper as well. There’s really no limit to the kinds of paper you can use with the caveat that it be sturdy enough to be folded and take a crease without tearing.

I found my templates online. Just google “leaf templates” and download and print your favorites. Cut them out and you have your template. You can also use real leaves or a craft wood leaf from Michaels, Joannes or Hobby Lobby.

This technique could also be used at Christmas. Think stars, mittens or angels. Valentines Day hearts. Easter bunnies. You get the idea.

I cut more than I needed and used the extras on my old galvanized “bulletin board” that found a temporary home for fall in the dining room. Or place one or two in a bowl of pine cones. Hey! I don’t live in an area with gorgeous fall leaves. I gotta make my fall leaves. Don’t judge.

This old piece of galvanized metal framed in old wood takes on an autumn with leaf cut outs

Create the home you see in your heart. You deserve a sanctuary no matter where you live.



Hey friends, thanks for stopping by today. Once again I write with a heavy heart. I’d intended to do a quick post to let y’all know what’s been going on here at my sanctuary after Irma. I find myself still in a bit of a funk posting about the small irritations we face as compared to the thousands who have no water, food or shelter as yet. I hope everyone has donated, given blood or volunteered in small…. or big ways. We can help. It will take more than a village, but we can help. Check out the websites of those areas affected and see what still needs to be done, and if you can…. donate. As always, please use due diligence and check to be sure the charities are legitimate and your donations will actually get to the people and organizations involved in the massive clean up.

I need to take a moment to honor those who lost their lives in Las Vegas. We should be able to attend concerts, picnics or church services without fear. I may never attend an open air concert again….ever.  It is with a heavy heart I offer my condolences to those who lost a loved one. I understand the pain. Truly. I still suffer with a hole in my heart that will never heal. October is a bittersweet month for me. My son was killed in October. My oldest Granddaughter was born in October. We celebrate and we mourn.  I’ learned that great joy and great pain can co-exist peacefully  in the same heart. Life goes on….as it must. One thing I know about that kind of loss, is that you live your life with joy in honor of the one who no longer can.  It will take some time, but my hope is that all who were affected learn to live their lives with joy once more.

Clean up here at the Sanctuary is taking a temporary break so that Mr B can enjoy his annual golf outing. Twelve men from various parts of the country  and our neighborhood, will be spending the next several days in the Orlando area wreaking havoc on unsuspecting golf courses. Those courses will never be the same. It’s a big event now. With its own traveling trophy, professional style pairings and months of pre-planning. I suggested the original outing a few years ago as a 65th birthday celebration for Mr B, but it’s turned into a greatly anticipated annual trip, with much hilarity, eating, playing of poker, a  bit of liquid happiness and a lot of golf. Happy pre-birthday Mr B. You’ve earned some time away from the Honey Do List.

We’ve picked up fallen debris, cleaned the bird cage (the screen enclosure around the pool), raked some of the yard, had trees trimmed, washed some of the windows and done general clean up. We invested the money in having a large oak removed due to its proximity to our house. It was a Water Oak,  one of the weakest oak trees and are frequently one of the first of the oaks to become victim of winds. I don’t miss it and our bedroom benefits from additional light with it gone. We’ll plant a smaller hardier native in that area.

We lost a 40 foot Maple but it wasn’t in close proximity to the house and caused no real damage. I grew this from a seedling and really loved it. But I’m happy it didn’t cause damage to anything important

Our neighbor also allowed us to remove two large limbs that had grown over the roof to offer a semblance of safety in the event of another hurricane. There will be another one. This is Florida, the big thumb state that extends into the Gulf. We’re like a giant storm bulls eye, along with Texas and Louisiana. Harvey and Irma will go down in history along with Andrew and Katrina. I imagine construction rules and codes will again change in the hope of preventing the widespread damage after Irma. Good luck with that I say.


That’s a big tree and our tree guy made me nervous. He’s up there without a harness. Yikes


When I talk about clean up, it goes beyond the normal picking up crap that has blown into the yard or fallen from trees. Something most people don’t think about is the dirt and grime that gets blown onto and into your house. Our windows were covered in a nasty combination of dirt and tree sap that creates a film of gunk. (ugh, that means the house is covered in it too!)  It’s almost impossible to remove without washing the windows multiple times with Krud Kutter. We got a good start but are in no way done with that project.  Mr B cleaned the driveway and sidewalk but the house still needs to be pressure washed, the patio needs to be cleaned and sealed, leaves and debris blown out of every planting bed. Shrubs rinsed off and then, to quote my friend, Dianne……I needed to address “the chaos I created indoors.” WOWZER! I have a lot of crap  treasures! It’s one thing to quickly, but systematically wrap things and box them up for safety. It’s a whole “nother” game to put said crapola  precious artifacts away again.

The screen enclosure (Bird cage) was first in line for attention from Mr B so that we could actually see the yard

I went the extra mile and dusted,  washed and cleaned everything before putting it back. Um…..just where did that vintage Zane Gray book go anyway??? When you can’t remember how you had things styled… might have too much. (Imagine MR B’s eyes rolling about now.) For a few days my home looked like I was getting ready for an estate sale. I  made that comment to my beloved who mumbled; “if only.” Or words to that effect. His office was in the same condition as when we left because he deemed nothing important enough to worry about. His office, while stuffed, is at least an orderly stuffing. Mine, on the other hand, is just stuffed with stuff…, important things. Whatever.

But I have “stuff” put away again, my shelves are once again filled with things that make me smile. Smiles weren’t in abundance for a few days. There was whining about aching backs  and shoulders, complaining about the multiple hot showers needed and many doses of Ibuprofen, but when Mr B ran out of breath I reminded him, “we still have to do………….” then I ran. Or hobbled quickly. Take your pick.

Love that my shelves are once again filled with things I love. Two of my Grandmother’s plates are in this display in the dining room. I just noticed I need to move the white meat plate to the left a bit. Why didn’t I ever see this before???

I also learned a bit about packing the car and I’m now looking for another folding dog crate at a reasonable price.  It takes up a lot less space. And I reminded myself to keep my “go bag” up to date, including a toothbrush. So each time we return from a trip I’ll take some time to restock it.   And at the first announcement that a hurricane will make landfall, I’ll be stocking up on ziplock bags, plastic bins and bubble wrap. Oil for the lamps, (even though I have 5 thousand assorted candles), tuna, bread and peanut butter. Those were in short supply or no supply early on.

I’m hanging fewer wind chimes, but better quality ones. Getting rid of small plants and pots, in favor of statement making larger ones. And I’ve already given away a small wrought iron seating group. Next up for the Goodwill pile is small tables and outdoor knick knacks. Too much trouble to move to safe locations and we don’t need them anyway. Less stuff means quicker prep. I’m all about quicker prep after Irma.

Fewer but larger wind chimes mean quicker storm prep.

Mr B thinks if we wait  until after the storm season is over we may get a better price on hurricane windows and shutters. There is still time left in this year’s storm season tho. I hope his idea turns out to be a wise decision. I do know that if we get a direct hit from another Irma sized storm there isn’t enough bubble wrap in the world to protect us.

I hope you are safe and busy creating your sanctuary, one room at a time. We sure need a sanctuary these days. Blessings and hope to all.



Hey y’all!  Most of you know that we evacuated and perhaps followed the updates on my Facebook page. I found myself in the position of living my  “What If” post. Ironically, at the time we loaded the car and made a mad dash out of our state, I was strangely calm, or maybe in a state of denial. It was before the storm that anxiety and stress were off the charts, and a bit later…. after the “mad dash”that it hit again. And boy! Did it ever!!

Hurricanes at least give enough time to prepare…..but that also means lots of time to build up anxiety. We spent the week prior to Irma’s projected landfall getting ready. Draining the pool, removing anything that could become a projectile in high winds, packing mementos as best we could.  Mr B worked tirelessly moving patio furniture, pots and plants, and odds and ends of outdoor miscellaneous (think dozens of wind chimes) to the side of the house or into the garage. He didn’t grumble or make snide comments about all the stuff that had to be moved, he just did it. The anxiety building,  did we do enough? Would we be safe? Waiting for the storm to hit was the worst part. The unknown is always the hardest part.

Photos and albums ready to be wrapped and placed in the closets

Our house is  “open concept,” kitchen, breakfast nook and family room are one big space.  There are no rooms without windows, and the windows we have are each larger than a standard 4 x 8 sheet of plywood. They are great for letting light in, but due to some ill designed sills that stick out on the exterior, and the fact that the family room windows are not separate windows, they are “mulled together with aluminum,” there is no way to secure the plywood sheets to the house. Plus they aren’t “hurricane windows,” they’re flimsy builder grade. That bank of 3 in the back of the house were the biggest concern. They rattle and vibrate during normal thunderstorms and I was afraid that hurricane force winds would blow them out.   We’d given all our plywood away quite awhile ago and it quickly disappeared at all the big box stores.

People were taking this storm seriously. And it didn’t help my stress level to have the Governor on the TV once every hour saying, “This is a monster storm, GET OUT.” If the Governor was freaking out, what chance did we have? Floridians in our area are usually blase about hurricanes. We’ve had a few. But this storm? Irma? She scared the bejesus out of hardcore hurricane partiers and people were boarding up, buying all the water that was available and gassing up the cars.

Bread, water and gasoline ran out. Gas stations closed. People drove miles from their homes hoping to find a jar of peanut butter or a bottle of water. I was lucky to be in Walmart when a few pallets of  bottled water became available. I was surprised at the orderly line, the lack of complaints as we snaked through the store to the back and each shopping cart was loaded with a case of water. There was no bread, no peanut butter, no canned tuna (I snagged the last two cans), and paper towels and toilet paper were in very short supply.

Some things were placed in the dryer, hopefully to stay safe


We knew we had enough ice to last a couple of days and food in the freezer to cook on the gas grill when the power went out. We had batteries, water and toilet paper, candles and oil lamps. We had a generator that had just been serviced and it was supposed to power 6 outlets in the house. I hoped one of them was for a fan. I bought an extra case of Oscar’s kidney diet food, stocked up on Lily’s and picked up vaccination records at the vet’s.   We found a couple of small pieces of plywood in the garage and Mr B was able to board up the french door in the pool bath. So that was our “safe room.” I planned to make a bed on the floor with some of my bazillion quilts and throws and the 4 of us would huddle in there during the storm. So we were good.

I put photos and scrapbooks in the few plastic bins I had, but quickly ran out so made a quick run to Big Lots and fortunately it still had a few. I grabbed a couple and was able to get most of the family photos and my precious tintypes wrapped and in the bins. Some I wrapped in plastic and placed in the washer and dryer and even the dishwasher. We aren’t in a flood zone so I wasn’t worried about the water lines backing up. Turns out that wasn’t a great idea. I’ll have to  do some research to find out what…if anything, can be done to make those a safe place to put precious things.

Mr B made a pee station for the dogs, they’d be safe with their “indoor plumbing”

My Grandmother’s cedar chest was put into the bathtub, my toy box was left in my office with the hope that it would remain safe. Some bins were additionally wrapped in garbage bags, taped and placed in our closets. We closed all the interior doors.  Mr B made a pee station for the dogs with some sod and I was able to get Oscar some tranquilizers to help with his storm anxiety. We were as prepared as we could be. We were ready to hunker down.

As Irma got closer, the warnings became more dire. When the winds hit 50 mph first responders would no longer respond. The Governor told people in south Florida if they didn’t evacuate, they’d be on their own. Don’t call if you have a heart attack. We aren’t  coming. No way was he going to risk the lives of those crews to save someone dumb enough to stay and then have the temerity to have a heart attack. My anxiety was through the roof. We went about the business of shutting down our computers, making sure our medications and personal papers were in the water resistant lock box. Both dogs were anxious and followed in our footsteps, routinely getting stepped on, then hugged with a quick apology. Their innocent eyes looking up at us, plainly confused and anxious, looking to us for reassurance and comfort. I felt bad that I had none to give, for I was just as anxious.

And then we waited…. I managed to watch a couple of sitcoms but couldn’t tell you which ones. I tried to read but couldn’t concentrate. As Irma got closer the television was on our local 24 hour news channel. (Thank you Bay News 9 for your coverage, it helped make our decisions.) I couldn’t sleep for worry.

Mr B wasn’t concerned. I was frightened and nervous. The waiting was nerve wracking, just get here already!  We were prepared. And then…. Tampa was in the bulls eye….. Irma turned….. Just a bit, but now the eye was going to pass closer to us. And we would get the full force of the winds on those flimsy windows at the back of the house. Mr B looked at me late Saturday night and said,  “We need to leave.” WHAT???? I wanted to leave days ago, but was convinced by him we would be OK. So all of a sudden we aren’t???? Holy heart beat! He said, “I’ll wait for the 11:00 o’clock update, if Irma has made the turn they are forecasting…..those windows…. ” When Mr B became concerned I knew it was about to get real. To say I was frightened would be the “under” understatement.

Mr B does not get alarmed easily. I knew all hell was about to break loose. I asked what time we would leave, he said, 6:00 a.m. “OK, get me up at 5:00.”

“Can I take anything?” “You can take what will fit.” He didn’t have to wake me up for I slept…..not at all! My “What If” scenario was coming true. I’d given myself an hour before we left to load what I could in the back of the car. Posting that “What If” post probably saved my sanity. I was able to quickly grab the things most dear to me because I’d already determined what those things were.

The doggies and their things went in first, crates, bowls, food and medication. Plus two dog beds that would be used in whatever motel we could find. A gas can with 10 gallons of gas. Mr B said he was confident we could make Georgia on one tank, but took the extra gas as a precaution. Surely there would be gas in Georgia…right??? A small cooler with water and ice, a bag of snacks. Our two small roller bags stuffed with necessities. The rest of the car was mine.

I knew the cedar chest wouldn’t fit in the space left, so in went the toy box, I dumped its contents on my floor and quickly pulled a few things out of the washer; my Grandmother’s statue, the shaving mug belonging to my Gramps, my Mom’s clock,  some of MR B’s family photographs and his baby shoes and placed those in the toy box. I asked him, “What do you want me to pack for you?” “Nothing.” There is nothing here I care about except you.”   I grabbed a ziplock bag and at the last minute put some pieces of jewelry in.  I took a last look at my breakfast nook and thought wistfully, geez, I just painted the church pew, it was 5:55 when we pulled out.

The recently finished nook

If you followed the FB page, you’ve already seen the ghostly images of the interstate.  The decision to leave the morning of the day the storm would hit was, in hind sight OK. We could get out without sitting for hours on a clogged interstate. It was clear sailing. We were confident we could outrun the storm. Irma wasn’t going to hit full force until later in the evening. Even so, there were some gusty winds and bands of rain coming in.  But it was a surreal trip. Gas stations and fast food restaurants were shuttered and empty. Closed rest stops were an eerie sight as we sped along, Mr B making sure that he kept the car at at even 55 mph to conserve gas. When it was my turn, I admit I white knuckled the steering wheel.

Interstate 4 at 6:30 a.m.


Along the way our daughter-in-law called motels for us…… Savananah, no vacancies,  a pet friendly motel in Charleston had rooms, but when the price of $689.00 was quoted we decided to go to our nephew’s home outside of Greenville, SC. He’d invited us to stay, but they have a toddler and I didn’t want to inflict our two rowdy doggies on them. Turns out we didn’t have a choice. It was going to family or living in our car. Family won.

The car was packed with everything precious. How can Oscar sleep with his head hanging like that???

Our dogs were amazingly well behaved after they learned what they could and couldn’t do. The baby was terrified of them so it became a matter of juggling when the dogs could be  out of their crates and not terrify  sweet baby Avery. It actually worked out well. The dogs were with us while Avery was in day care and in the evening after her early bedtime. Concessions were made and our nephew and niece were gracious and loving. There was a fenced yard and my nephew immediately made it dog safe by screwing is some slats of fencing to make sure there was no wiggle room to get out.  The nephew had even recorded Outlander for me! (He’s my favorite nephew) We ended up really enjoying our stay with them, but only after we learned our house had survived with no real damage. I can’t tell you how my thoughts wandered and how worried I was until I got that news.

Our port in the storm

Monday, after the storm had passed, one of our neighbors texted and shared a photo of our home. We were OK. But then another worry surfaced, a small one, but one that needed to be addressed. The power was out, so we asked that our food be taken out of the freezer and refrigerator. I didn’t want to return to that. I’ve been through a flood and the stench from a refrigerator filled with food without power for several days never really leaves…no matter how much it’s cleaned. So neighbors to the rescue again.

The first days in SC were filled with anxiety, the TV tuned almost constantly to CNN to get a glimpse of our area. There was no power and no phone service in many places and I was filled with worry about our friends in other areas of Florida. Did they make it? I wanted needed to be home, I needed wanted to leave immediately. But there was no gasoline in Florida. The port was closed, tankers couldn’t get through, and the interstates had to be cleaned, then bridges and overpasses checked for structural safety. So we waited. And watched amazing video of utility workers responding from every state, and Canada. People were donating to the recovery, including donating their time. Neighbor helping neighbor. Human helping human. For a brief moment in time we were all just human. Not Democrat. Not Republican. Not Gay or Straight, Black or White. It was beautiful to see. Americans are at our best during times of crisis. It shouldn’t take a crisis.

I’m so thankful that all our friends made it through the storm, I’m thankful I still have those few things most precious to me. I’m thankful for the love and support of family in a time of overwhelming fear and anxiety. I’m thankful for those doggies, who are now romping through the house again, already forgetting just a few days ago they were afraid and anxious. They have the gift of a short memory. Most of all I’m thankful Mr B is still with me, annoying the hell out of me, with his comments and eye rolls. I don’t know what my life would be without him.

We came home to a lot of debris and fallen limbs in the yard, a downed tree in the “back 40.” Small annoyances. My heart still hurts for those who lost everything. I cannot imagine. I hope I never find out what that’s like. After we clean the house inside and out, get the debris picked up, and trees trimmed, we’ll be getting estimates for hurricane windows and maybe shutters. There will be another hurricane. This is Florida. Thank you all for your messages of concern and hope. They truly meant a lot.



As I sit in front of the TV watching Irma gain strength, I wonder… this the storm that will devastate Florida? Should we evacuate? Stay? What can I do to help keep Mr B and my furbabies safe? If you live in any of the coastal states, you probably already have your hurricane emergency kit ready, or are getting one ready now if you live in Florida. After watching both Katrina and Harvey decimate Louisiana and Texas, I’m not sure having extra batteries and water is enough. Prayers are needed, friends, big prayers.

So I asked myself.….if I were told to get out NOW and could only bring one bag with me, what would be in that bag? How about if I had a few hours and could pack my car? What would I take? What is really important to me??

Mr B and my dogs go without mention, but I mention them anyway, if only to say,  there is nothing else worth saving.  So I could leave my home behind me and leave with them and feel fortunate. But after the initial happy-to-be-alive thoughts filter through my mind and into my heart…..what then? Would I miss my things? Which things? And that led to my What If List, the list of things important enough to be considered if I were to evacuate and could take the car.

Would I take my toy box? The one that’s as old as I am? The one that my son also used as a young boy? How about my Grandmother’s cedar chest, her dishes? My mother’s clock? Mr B’s baby shoes? What about my Grandmother’s Christmas angel?

This little toy box has been with me as long as I can remember, would it make the cut?


So, what made the cut???

My Grandmother’s Christmas Angel. She must go with me

The statue that my Grandpa gave my Grams on one of their anniversaries. The shaving mug and brush that belonged to my Gramps. Grams kept it and now I do too, to honor the tall, thin man who helped raise me. The hobnail glass bowls that belonged to my Grams, the ones that hold small shells and acorns throughout the change of seasons. The jewelry that Mr B and my kids have purchased for me over the years. The Christmas angel that graced every tree I can remember until I married.



My Grandfather’s shaving mug and brush, a long held treasure

A few photographs of my ancestors. Those tintypes are precious to me. They tell my story. Some of my oldest son’s baby photos and early pictures of my daughter, Darby, and second son, Scott and my two granddaughters, Shelby and Shayla before the age of digital. And yes, Mr B’s baby shoes.


One of the McCormicks from Danville, Illinois, and one of only two tintypes that survived my families moves over the years

An autographed copy of a John Sanford book. My autographed CD by Home Free, and if there’s room, my hardbacks by Diana Gabaldon. Two glass jars from an Indiana bottling company and my grain and feed sacks which can be folded up and not take up space. They’ll be the first to be jettisoned however.

My mother’s clock? Would there be room to squeeze it in?


The cedar chest. It must go, bonus…it can hold most of the other treasured things I’ll take

These things would be packed in the cedar chest. There won’t be room for my toy box unless we take both cars. I will miss that toy box but I have a photo of myself standing beside it when I was about 3, complete with the world’s worst hairdo.

Me and the beloved toy box. My hair……sigh

What about Mr B? What would be on his list? His Grandfather’s violin? The photo of that Grandfather’s firehouse? His guitar? His golf clubs? I need to ask, for I truly don’t know if there is anything he would want to take with us. He doesn’t have the same emotional attachment to things that I do, I’m betting he’ll say; besides me, and maybe the dogs, there isn’t anything else worth taking.

Mr B’s Grandfather’s violin, would he think it important enough to take?

So I look at my list and realize, there isn’t much there. After a life of almost 70 years, I can pack what’s most important in my car. It’s was an AHA moment.  I realize  (and if I were brutally honest with myself, I’ve always known) that all this stuff I’ve acquired….. it’s just stuff, mostly unimportant and replaceable. Nothing is more important than the lives of those I love. I’ll make room in the car for those people. Toy box and cedar chest be damned.

I hope, with all of my heart, that Irma passes us by. And fizzles out harmlessly so that no one else must decide what goes in that one bag, or what will fit in  the back of the car, that no animals are left behind, that no families are lost. That no lives are taken by Mother Nature. The earth will renew itself given time. But the loss of loved ones? There’s no coming back from that.

In the meantime, we have batteries and water, important papers in ziplock bags, and oil lamps to light our home when the power goes out. The power always goes out. In the heat and humidity, no fans, no a/c, nothing but me and a paper fan on a stick. I’m ready. Mr B answered when asked; “Nothing except you and the dogs.” “There’s not one thing in the house that cannot be replaced, except you.” Gotta love that man.

 I have everything I need. Mr B right here, beside me, my doggies curled up in my lap……in my sanctuary. Stay safe, wherever you are. Thoughts are with everyone in Montana and California, in Texas and Louisiana, and all those who are certainly in Irma’s path.



I have to admit to a certain amount of uneasiness and even depression  this past week. I’ve been glued to the news and scrolling through social media for the latest photos and status on Harvey. I’ve been systematically overwhelmed, sad, horrified, and often hit with feeling helpless, and useless. And finally, hopeful. I still have a bit of survivors guilt. I know this situation could easily have been Florida. But it wasn’t. This time.  Hence the guilt. I needed to do something besides sit around and feel horrified and wring my hands. So I donated.

A length of grain sack material with a faded gold stripe and few of my old brass candle holders add just the right feel to this early fall centerpiece

Look y’all, I know it’s people first.….but seeing the faces of terrified animals sent me over the edge. I felt helpless and more than a little angry. Don’t leave animals tied up, don’t leave them in fenced areas or locked up in garages or barns. Leave the doors and gates open. Let them at least try to find high ground. To leave a dog chained to its doghouse during a flood is beyond cruel.  Having a dog chained outside is cruel even when the weather is good. Don’t do this. Don’t have a dog if the only thing you can offer it is life at the end of a chain.

The image of dogs fighting for their lives at the end of a chain while flood waters rose kept me awake at night. Or paddling in outdoor kennels, or horses tied and locked in stalls. Some say, leaving horses locked in a barn keeps them safe. I ask, how can they be safe during a flood when stalls are flooded to chest height or in the case of Katrina, and now Harvey, much higher? This is a case of I don’t know enough and maybe shouldn’t be commenting. I lived through a flood. A horrendous flood, but not a Harvey. I do know what floods can do when it comes to companion animals. It’s devastating.  But I confess to a certain amount of ignorance when it comes to keeping livestock safe.

I  have a recurring nightmare about Harvey or a storm like Harvey, hitting Florida. We are sitting ducks here, Harvey would have covered our state. And demolished it. While we wait to see what Irma will do, I’m making a list of what to pack when if we must evacuate some day. If not Irma, then some unnamed super storm. I pray not. But if it happens, my dogs will be in the car before my clothes and shoes, that’s for sure.  And I’m praying for Texas and her people.  I donated. And now I’ll pray that my donation gets to real people who need it.

And since you don’t read my blog to hear my social commentary, let’s get to the Transitioning to Fall part.

It’s September, Blogs and Instagram and Facebook groups have been chomping at the bit to get to fall for weeks. There’s even a Facebook group dedicated to all things fall. (Check out Pumpkins and Spice) I shared one photo with a peek at what I’d planned for fall at the Brown abode, but as usual that’s already changed. I have a hard time thinking Fall when it’s 93 degrees and thunder storming every five minutes. I envy those who post, “It’s crisp here this morning.” Actually…..I hate those people. How cruel to taunt those of us who don’t live north of the Mason Dixon Line with words like, crisp, and fireplace  and jeans and boots??? Have they no mercy???

I got all my fall crap out of the attic and risked being instantly cooked by the thermal blast of heat that accompanies that task. I was standing on that flimsy drop down ladder, head and shoulders in the attic, reaching for the “Bin of Fall” when I suddenly realized my entire head was wet!! Did we spring a leak? Someone leave a hose up there and forget to turn off the water??? Noooo, it was sweat! Icky, dripping sweat. Gross sweat. I wasn’t even all the way IN the attic! I grabbed the “Bin of Fall,” slid down the ladder gracefully, (this is a big fat lie, I all but fell, skinned my shin, and broke a nail!) The lengths I will go to for Fall.    It’s my favorite season……says every human on Facebook, Instagram and on blogs. And judging by Pinterest, Fall is HERE! NOW! So I’d best get with it or risk my blog appearing out of touch and behind the seasons.

I dragged the “Bin of Fall” Um…..Let’s dispense with the quotations marks and the hype and just call it the bin from now on. mmmkay? Soo, I dragged the bin into the kitchen, hobbled off to shower, slapped a bandaid on my shin and cut the remainder of my broken nail off. Then the contents of the bin began piling up on the kitchen counters and island. It’s a large bin, my friends. And I purged last year when I told myself I would do simple Fall from now on. Remember how well the Simple Christmas went last year?  Multiply that by 10. Yep, that’s the bin.for.fall.

I artfully piled greenery and faux pumpkins on various and assorted flat surfaces and quickly realized I didn’t get the pine cones. OH NO!!! This requires another trip into the attic!! I went to my favorite chair, iced Barqs in hand and binged watched Netflix. Fall can wait until it’s crisp.

After the last notes of the theme to the second season of “The Last Kingdom” faded away, I threw a couple pieces of faux foliage on the dining room table, went outside and cut a few trimmings from shrubs, got my Grandma’s bowl down from the cupboard and tossed some apples in it. I call it “Early Fall (ish).” I spent a lot of time arranging things just so. All of 10 minutes. I had to wait for the rain to stop so I could clip a couple of leaves from the bushes.

Real Pumpkins will not be seen in this part of Florida for weeks, and I wasn’t feeling the fauxs that I have. It’s not time for pumpkins here. It’s not crisp. Unless you count the fact that most things are fried crisp by the sun at the end of August. Except we’ve had non-stop rain for weeks, so things that were once fried crisp and brown are now soggy and brown, not a good look for a centerpiece, even if it’s only fallish.

Apples will last for a couple of weeks in this arrangement. It’s cool in the house. And if you want to keep the clippings fresh, just use one of the dozens of water picks you’ve hoarded for years from floral centerpieces and gifted plants. You hoard water picks, right? Everyone does. I mean….Oh come on! If you don’t have any, go to your nearest Walmart and buy some. Or order a 10 pack from Amazon for $7.22. Geez. I didn’t use any of mine, I’m still hoarding them. For Christmas. (Which is only days away in Blogland.)  I have almost unlimited supplies of greenery, and trimming the bushes for centerpieces is helping Mr B with yard work. See how helpful I am? He loves when I help.

If you aren’t quite ready for full on Fall, get some apples, or pears and add a leaf or two, maybe a pine cone……unless god forbid your attic is like mine. There is a silver lining here, I don’t have to bake my pine cones to kill off critters. Nope, those suckers are baked to a high degree and are critter free. Ditto for the 5 pounds of acorns I brought home from Indiana three years ago. In a box in the attic, next to the baked pine cones… beautiful full sized acorns are also baked to a high degree. We don’t have real acorns in Florida, we have teeny tiny little fingernail sized acorns so I must import real ones. Because I want Fall! Real Fall! Crisp Fall!! I wonder if I have any pouches of cake mix left from the girls’ Easy Bake Oven??? Hmmmmm. Warm chocolate cake fresh from the attic??



Create the fall (ish) home you see in your heart. Love the home you’re in. You have a home. Many do not right now. Donate, please. Help those who only wish their biggest problem is how to decorate a table. Thank you for following me, I appreciate each and every one of you.

ARE YOU TRENDY? What’s in, what’s out……..

ARE YOU TRENDY? What’s in, what’s out……..

Trends. They come and go. Then they come and go again, sometimes ya never know what’s in…or out…..or if you even care. I know what’s out. Anything I buy. Yep, I take such a long time to jump on  a trend train, it’s usually either dead or dying by the time I decide I like it. Which is why I don’t pay too much attention to the “in” thing. I fill my home with things that please me, that make my heart smile. So my home is always “in.” Or at least that’s the story I tell myself.

But let’s take a look at some of the hottest trends going right now and some that have cooled off.


Planked walls or real shiplap. Still hot

Planked walls and if you are lucky, real shiplap. Planked walls show no sign of cooling off.  Beadboard and Board and Batten are timeless and aren’t  too far behind.

Interior doors painted in dark colors. (Think black, dark browns or grays).  This is a great trend if you have kids, or live with Pig Pen. Mr B I’m lookin at you. Those dark doors hide a lot of finger marks. Just sayin.

Painting interior doors dark gives a room some oomph and hides fingermarks! Win, Win!

Buffalo check is hot, hot, hot! Any color. Tiny checks? Not so much, those are yesterday’s country. Today is about the big checks. Draperies, upholstered furniture,  pillows, it’s showing up everywhere.


Wood look tile is still going strong along with every imaginable material that can mimic wood.


A personal favorite of mine is the return of brass. Not your Mom’s shiny, lacquered brass, the new version looks like old, somewhat tarnished brass. It’s warm and adds lovely patina to any room. Mix metals in your rooms, it’s OK to do this! Really, I wouldn’t lie to you.

I’m totally loving the new look of brass!

Polished chrome for faucets is starting to rise on the trendy list, while polished nickle is just beginning to lose favor. Oil rubbed bronze is holding steady, but I think that in the near future brass will overtake it in popularity. I could be wrong, but I’m seeing a lot more brass now.

Wallpaper has been trending for a couple of years now but has hit a new high in popularity. Try the newest generation of peel and stick.

Dark colors for walls, the accent wall is baaack. Charcoal gray, dark luscious browns, even black on walls for a moody feel.

Two trends in one photo, dark walls and a map as art. Gotta admit, I really like this room!

Mid Century Modern and Boho are two of the hottest styles, and Modern Farmhouse is still holding its own. Those three styles own the highest rankings on Pinterest.

Mid Century Modern is simple and clean, perfect for today’s busy lifestyles


Boho is riding high on the popularity list

Painted furniture. Need I say more?? OK, I will….Painted furniture hasn’t enjoyed this much popularity in decades.

STILL ALIVE: Faux fur. Fur pillows, throws and faux fur rugs are still showing up in almost every style, thanks to the whole Hygge movement. I still can’t get into the fur thing. Except at Christmas. I use a couple of furry throws then. I live in Florida, I’m pushing the envelope with a flocked Christmas tree and greenery. Fur just seems silly to me when it’s 93 degrees with a heat index of 105. But then again, my northern friends make horrible fun of me when I post my holiday photos of my flocked tree with palm trees in the background. So guess a little fur is fine.

Signs are still going strong. And single book pages or Bible quotes enlarged and printed on canvas or paper and mounted to wood, then framed.

On the upswing: Botanicals, along with vintage bird and rabbit prints are showing up in more and more homes. Almost any vintage animal is hitting the hot spot again. Hung in a grid, these offer a modern take on the declining gallery walls.

Maps. Maps are everywhere still. As wallpaper, as decor, framed, unframed. They’re even cooler when they’re vintage. Ditto for blueprints.


COOLING OFF: Feathers, gallery walls, galvanized metal and dollar store cow pictures (not that there is anything wrong with using any of these. I’m just reporting the trends, don’t shoot me, or send hate mail…..mmmmkay?)


Arrows, ampersands and the @ symbol. Matching collections of furniture. “No matchy, matchy” has been my mantra since the late 80’s.  It’s OK if you buy a room full of furniture from Rooms To Go…. if that’s your jam, but add some personal art and accessories.

Document fabric and the Eiffle Tower decoupaged on anything. Dead and buried, thankfully.

Just say no

Soooo, what do you think? Is your home a hodge podge of trends that are hot, warm, or as cold as yesterday’s fried chicken……or… your home warm and inviting, filled with classic finishes and unique and personal things that speak to your heart? Don’t try to follow every trend, they are called trends for a reason. Very few make the cut to become timeless. Fill your home with things that make you smile, things that allow you and your loved ones to find comfort, security and peace from the increasingly noisy, negative world. And OK, throw something trendy and fun in the mix to liven things up. Just don’t jump on every trend train that rumbles by. It’s expensive, you’ll never be satisfied,  and your home won’t look like YOU.

Create the home you see in your heart. Let’s make that a trend!

photo credit: all photos used in this post are courtesy of Google Images, origins unknown or not listed



Hi friends!

Y’all know by now that I like to paint things. I’ll throw a coat of paint on almost anything, without an invitation. If it’s in our home, it’s probably been painted multiple times. I have MCPD…Multiple Coats of Paint Disorder. It’s a real disorder, I found it on the internet when I was researching my symptoms….

I decided to paint my antique icebox. Gasp!! If you believe that every vintage piece should remain unpainted, stop reading right now. I don’t want to be responsible for raising your blood pressure.

photo credit from google images, the creativity exchange

I said more than once I would never paint it. But……………well times change as they say, and I changed my mind about this old piece one day and decided it needed to be white. In my defense, it had already been refinished a couple of times so the “value” of it was already diminished. And truly, the value of anything is only what someone will pay for it.

My ice box had damage from rot on one of the rear legs, didn’t have all the original parts inside, had a large hole in the galvanized cladding inside, and had broken  and lifted veneer, which could not be repaired. So painting it would be a mercy. The wood was dry from years of hard use, I’d waxed it about 20 years ago with Briwax and while that gave it a soft luster, I guess in the end, I just wanted a different look.

prepping for paint

How is it I can find no “before” photos?? And I didn’t take any before we took the doors off. I have a hard time remembering the photo thing. So just imagine the ice box with brown doors.

I decided to use Krylon Chalky Paint in a spray. Colonial Ivory seemed to be the logical choice. I prepped the ice box by removing the hardware, lightly sanding, inserted cardboard cut to fit the door openings, (to protect the inside from overspray) and wiped it down to remove sanding dust. When the prep was done the change began… I’m always a little nervous and excited as the first coat of paint goes on.

First coat and all is well

I do not recommend using a new product on a large important piece of furniture. I’ve used spray paint for years and am usually successful. I started this project with high hopes, I wanted a smooth matte finish and I’d successfully used this paint on a frame, so I didn’t think twice. However…….it pays to read the information on every can of paint. Especially when using it for the first time on something important.

First coat on the door, coverage is good

I Rookie mistake. The project got off to a great start. I applied several thin coats with an hour between each coat. On the very LAST coat, (why it is always the last one that goes sideways????) I guess I failed to shake the can enough to get it mixed properly, the paint came out darker and like a fine powder. It was as if I’d sprayed cornmeal on it!! OMG!!! and other words of distress!!! Words that shall not be published.  I was not happy. I was horrified. I had to let it dry. And then sand it down to try to smooth it. All that careful painting only to have my project ruined at the last moment. I was in tears.

I read the info on the can, it recommends shaking vigorously for a full minute (of course you really should shake it another minute or so). And to shake during painting. I know this part. I shake cans of paint vigorously. What I didn’t do was shake it periodically during painting. I don’t know if I was just in a hurry or was excited because it was going so well.  The range of temps was also an eye opener. Turns out you aren’t supposed to paint in 90+ degree weather with humidity to match!

most of the “damage” was on the left side, and with the usual dim light in this room, it isn’t noticeable

Good grief. So humiliated and head hanging low, I sanded and sanded some more starting with 150 grit and then using 120, then 220. And finally with 400. It didn’t take all the dark shading off and it still feels rough to touch, but it’s done. I’ll wait a couple of weeks and then add wax, at least to the top. I bought a small buffer to make it easier on my neck and shoulders. I’ll live.

Although the finish isn’t the perfectly smooth matte finish I’d envisioned, I like the new look

So the verdict??? Krylon Chalky Spray Paint gets a 7 our of 10 stars from me. It will leave a nice smooth matte finish in perfect weather conditions. Which I rarely have. Humidity is a beast here and the temps seem to get hotter every year.  If I waited to paint when the temps are between 65 and 85 degrees with relative humidity I’d only be able to paint in November through February. Um…..that ain’t happenin. I can’t wait for perfect weather to spray paint something. I could…..but I won’t. So there’s that.

I do think this paint is great for small projects. I won’t use it again on larger pieces. Even though the bad finish was due to operator error, and ultimately the weather conditions, the cost of buying multiple cans of paint isn’t worth it.

Remember: Reading is Fundamental

Lesson learned. Read the directions. All of them. Pay attention to the recommended weather conditions. Shake that can, then shake it again. And shake it during painting. I spoke to a Krylon rep who said shaking the can is even more important when using chalk type paint. The paint is thicker and the ingredients sink to the bottom, so shaking is mandatory throughout the painting process. The powder that was sprayed at the end of my project? That was the ingredient that gives that matte  finish. By not shaking my can often enough or hard enough the paint and other ingredients didn’t get mixed properly. Duh. Well, I know that NOW……

Create your sanctuary one spray paint can at a time. Create the home you see in your heart, no matter where you live.



I posted a photo of a bunch of my magazines recently in three of the Facebook groups I’m in, and judging from the big response, I’d have to answer my own question with a resounding, YES! Magazines are still relevant. I have a shameful secret, I’m a magaholic. I have purchased magazines for years. I still have some  from the 90’s. I do get rid of old ones  every now and then. When we moved here in 1999, I brought along two cases of magazines. Mr B, ever the brave soul, gently suggested that maybe it was time to get rid of some…..WHAT????? I immediately got sweaty and there was a strange buzzing in my ears. Get rid of them???? Um, no. I use them. “For what?”   “I rip my favorite pages out to keep in a folder for future inspiration.”  “Well, if those are your favorite pages and you’ve ripped them out, why are you keeping a magazine with missing pages?”  STOP CONFUSING ME!!” I keep them because my style might change and I might find future inspiration among the pages I didn’t rip out.” sigh. I clearly have some issues.

Modern Farmhouse Style….NOT to be confused with American Farmhouse Style, both showcase one of the hottest trends in design. Modern lives up to its name, and emphasizes minimal modern use of vintage items.

I do donate some, once in awhile, but because I buy every decorating/design magazine published anywhere on a monthly basis, I have LOTS of inspiration. I keep mine in vintage wood boxes, in stacks near my reading chair and in stacks on a little table by the sofa. I read them, then I reread them, then I re-reread them. I tear out pages. And on it goes.

Some of the commenters in the Facebook groups, gently reminded me that I could read them for free in the library. Um, yes, I am familiar with the concept of the library, I’ve actually borrowed books from one. But magazines???? Reading magazines at the Library means I have to leave them there. GASP! I I must acquire them. Hold them. Browse through them. Flip through the pages. Tear some out.

Vintage wood boxes help keep me organized

The other suggestion was going with on-line subscriptions to end  hoarding preserving my favorites. I can’t do that either. For the same reason I  very seldom use my Kindle. I love actual books, the feel of the pages, even the way they are bound. I love that books can be shared, donated and gifted.

My Kindle doesn’t give me that same experience. Mr B is now totally Kindle when it comes to reading. I offer him a new book once I’ve finished and the answer is “no, I’m good.” geez. So my new, just read book goes in the basket I keep in the guest room for guests to take. I buy bags of books at Goodwill and Salvation Army and thrift stores. Reading allows me to visit far away places without leaving the comfort of my home. Then I donate them. You can’t do that with a Kindle. Just sayin.

I love magazines the same way. For me there is nothing like sitting in my chair with an icy Barqs perusing the latest edition of Country Living, or American Farmhouse or Flea Market Style. Besides I can’t tear pages from my Kindle.

Pinterest? Yep, I do Pinterest. I have scads of boards. I have secret boards for friends and clients. I have a secret board for things I want for my home. I have lots of public boards for lots of subjects. But I cannot break my habit of buying magazines. And they are expensive. I realize I am spending money on something I could easily have in another format, for less money. Then I’d have more money to spend on actual decor. But, alas, my addiction keeps me buying.

I buy genealogy magazines. Photography magazines. I subscribe to a dozen decorating magazines. I buy special edition magazines.  I buy British and Canadian magazines when I’ve gone through all the American ones. I buy old magazines at thrift stores. The magazine I don’t buy is anything having to do with food, or the making of it. Although someone once sent me a subscription to some chef magazine which Mr B took advantage of. I also buy Handyman magazine so that I can learn all about the tools I never use and offer helpful tips to Mr B while he’s using those tools. And he LOVES when I do that. (I lie.) Magazines are gifts to the mind. Just sayin.

I will purge my stash…..maybe this week, although I’m pretty busy with some projects and I may need to look through my tear sheets to see what I’ve forgotten. But I’ll purge for sure next week. Unless the weather is bad. If it’s sunny and pleasant, I’ll make one of my semi-regular visits to my doctor’s office and donate them to be left in reception. Why is it that the offices of health care professionals only seem to have Guns and Ammo and Sport Fishing or Hot Rod?? Because women like me TAKE the decorating mags home! (with permission of course.) Or sneaky office staff make off with them. I can live with that.

One of the questions asked often enough to be addressed here was, which one is your favorite?? Hard to answer that, I have more than one favorite, but I love Country Home. I was brokenhearted when it went from a monthly publication to a special edition that comes out with no rhyme nor reason. It’s beautifully photographed and keeps current with trends and changing styles. Unlike Country Sampler which is still stuck in Prim and doesn’t deviate much. I did let that subscription expire and only buy their special editions, Living Simply is a recent offering. And I eagerly wait for Prairie Style which comes out twice a year. Cottage Journal is another favorite, along with American Farmhouse Style. And I love Christmas and holiday editions. I enjoy seeing what my fellow bloggers are doing in their homes and enjoy looking for ways to spruce up my holiday decor.

Cottage Journal offers several special editions a year, one that’s dedicated to all white like this one. This is a must have for me

So, I think the question, are magazines still relevant has been answered. If you want some older editions, message me at I’ll gladly share some with you. Free. Except for Cottage Journal and Country Home. Sorry. Those are keepers. And maybe Flea Market Style.

Another essential is Country Home, once a monthly offering, sadly now whenever Meredith Publishing feels like it. I must have every issue and it there’s one magazine I will keep for years, it’s this one.
A special edition of Country Sampler, Prairie Stye offers simpler ways of styling our homes using authentic items, I’ve only been disappointed in one issue

If you’re stuck trying to figure out your style, or want some fresh ideas for creating your sanctuary, chances are I have a magazine that will help or you can just head to the news stand and pick up your very own copy.

Create your sanctuary, no matter where you live. Create the home you see in your heart.



I’m a lover of white rooms, or mostly white rooms. I love the different shades and nuances of white. I love the serenity a white room offers. I love that an all white room can be changed just by adding a couple of colorful pillows or throws. For anyone who feels white is too hard to live with,  Sunbrella offers wonderfully soft fabrics for use in interior rooms, and of course offers white. Slip covers make white sofas easy peasy to live with if you have kids or dogs or both. Bemz has many slip cover options in a multitude of designs and colors to fit Ikea furniture, including a hard wearing white cotton blend and a gorgeous white linen.

I love the fact that white rooms aren’t boring. Adding different sheens and texture makes an all white room come to life. Soft and hard. Shiny and dull. Rough and smooth. Adding opposites makes an all white room feel dynamic, not static. Adding a few pieces of natural wood or some accents of black takes it to another level.

I say all this even though I have dark leather in the family room and brown velvet in the living room. If white is so easy and I love it so much, why don’t I have it?? Good question…….  When we moved here 19 years ago I invested in a Restoration Hardware sofa in a beautiful chocolate brown. It’s soft, warm and cozy. It brought back memories of my favorite sofa of all time, a chocolate brown velvet of indeterminate brand that I had for years. The years of life with a young boy and many dogs, rescues and fosters, plus assorted cats, kittens, gerbils, hamsters and a couple of birds.  That sofa held up so well. I cleaned all manner of gunk from that sofa over its lifetime. There was nothing wrong with it when I got rid of it, I just wanted a new look. I was never happy with another sofa. It was musical sofas for a few years and my son complained that he left for school in the morning and came home to a different sofa at night.

I found another brown velvet sofa at Goodwill for $80.00! Of course I bought it and the merry-go-round of sofas stopped for a time. It was wide and deep and perfect for snuggling and watching movies or taking a nap. I marveled at my luck. It was in perfect condition. I was in love. Then I went shopping with my bestie and she bought new living room furniture. It was the height of the preppy Hunter Green, Burgandy and Navy craze and I walked out of that store with a receipt for guess what? A Hunter Green, Burgandy and Navy sofa and loveseat. annnd, it was plaid. PLAID! UGH. What was I thinking???  That was one of the most uncomfortable sofas ever. Scratchy fabric and after just a few months the cushions sagged. Plus it was ugly. Really, really ugly.

When we moved into this house I knew that  I was shopping for odds and ends with my daughter-in-law and of course we had to check out Resto and Pottery Barn. I have an on-going love affair with both stores. I think I squealed when we walked in to Resto. There was a chocolate brown velvet sofa. I sat on it. I fell in love. I left with a receipt and a delivery date. I didn’t measure it, never considered that it might be too large for our tiny living sitting room. Consequently we removed the two columns that separated the entry from the afore mentioned sitting room to make space for it. I will never give it up. It’s soft, it’s cushy, it’s lovely. White grainsack pillows look marvelous on it and give it a farmhouse look. The end.

Comfy, squishy brown velvet

Of course that story doesn’t explain why I have brown leather, and to make this post even longer,  the reason why I have leather in the family room is….. I live with Pig Pen, otherwise known as Mr B. He is the love of my life, complete with twigs and grass clippings on his clothes and in his hair, bark and mud and dirt on his shoes. I vacuum, he brings leaves and dirt in. I vacuum again. He brings leaves and dirt in. Again. It’s never ending. I also have two dogs…..but they don’t bring in leaves and twigs or debris. (That may be a lie, but this is my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Leather in the family room works for our lifestyle

The biggest reason I don’t have white sofas???? It isn’t about Pig Pen, or my fur babies. Nope. It’s because I’m lazy physically challenged. Since I injured my spine I can no longer do the whole remove, wash and replace slip covers. OK…..I’m also lazy. So we have leather. Very dark leather. It’s great. Wipe and go. It’s comfy. It doesn’t give me my desired all white room, but I also don’t have to fight slip covers. So I bring in as much white as I can. It’s all about compromise and making my home work for me…….and Pig Pen.

 If you don’t mind wrestling slipcovers, I highly recommend getting a white sofa for your farmhouse home. Even if you live in a fake farmhouse. Or a wannabe farmhouse. I love all white rooms and I cannot lie. White is for every season. White is beautiful. Go for it and let me live vicariously through you. Send me photos of your white rooms and I’ll show them off in future blog posts. Send them to Below is a link to 75 beautiful rooms done in my favorite color scheme.

Click HERE for photos of beautiful rooms and get ideas to incorporate white in your home which was the point of this post……. but I  got ambushed by memories, so now it’s mostly about white. With some brown. sigh

Create your sanctuary, no matter where you live. Create the home you see in your heart.






Wife, Mother and Grandmother, lover of junking and vintage stuff, photography, music, books, and critters. I heart Hersheys, Barqs Rootbeer and Keds. Join me as I create my own suburban sanctuary and help you create one too.

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