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Friday, April 21, 2017

How to turn old, enamel bowls into Pendant Lights


Good morning! Back before we moved in, I asked, on this blog,  for opinions about our pendant lights. While at the design center, we were offered several choices of pendants. Here arose another of those moments where we were able to choose something that ‘was fine”, or “we liked” but is “it’s fine” why people build? We decided to pass (and accept a insulting “credit”) on the design center options and find some we loved. Due to the large, open layout of our floorplan, the pendant lights seemed like the ideal opportunity to make a statement. Here comes the pressure….Here are the options we were considering this summer.




Since we moved in, back in January, we have been pendant-less and feeling just fine about it. After all, there are plenty of projects on the Smiths to-do list: there's three piles of uprooted cedars in the backyard, and the cows are practically ON the porch since we still don't have a fence around the house....I'm not complaining. We may not always feel like doing these things, but those things were motivators for being here: learning new things, working with our hands, establishing our home, leaving a legacy...well now you've got me all teary. Anyway, pendant lights.

We kept going back and forth but never could “click the button”. It wasn’t love. If pendant light love is a thing?!

Last month, on the way home from Houston, we stopped at pretty much every antique store/mall for the whole 150 miles.  At one of our stops, in Paige, TX, we found a unique light fixture made from an old ladder with three pendants hanging down. The pendants has old, white enamel shades on them. Eureka! A white enamel covered light bulb lit up above our heads. (Get it?! Too much?)




We tried negotiating with the shop owner-a good idea at these places-but she wasn’t willing to disassemble her light fixture. Understandable, since all we wanted were the white shades. But, we now knew what we were hunting for.

A few weeks later, in Round Top (read about our trip to Round Top), our heads spinning, Brian spotted some rusty white enamel bowls. They weren’t well marketed or styled in any way. They were pretty much disregarded, laying on the ground in a pile. We snatched up 3, and negotiated the price down to $15. FOR ALL THREE.

Here they are, the beautes, ready to achieve their destiny.



We bought three pendant light kits from Home Depot. Get them here.  



Next, we needed to drill the holes in the base. Make sure to measure your hole from all sides of the base. Too far to one side, and the bowl will hang slanted.  We used this
Ryobi Carbon Hole Saw Set as an attachment to our drill for this part.
PSA:  I would recommend wearing eye protection and a mask when doing this. I can tell you this from the other side. You don’t want metal shards in your face/down your throat. You will notice we are not wearing said precautionary safety items. Like dummies. Do as I say, not as I do.

Once the holes were drilled, we used a file to file down the edges to ensure a perfect fit for our light kit.




We used a file to file down the edges of our circle just enough for the kit to fit through. You can also find this at Home Depot. 


Then, while you’re upstairs, helping your daughter with another fun project (more on that later) your handy husband will have connected, and hung all three lights. He will have given himself only one minor shock, and you will both feel so proud of him. I’m kidding, he didn’t really shock himself. I told you, he’s handy.





This island has the most “gather game” of any place in our house. Our family, our friends, bible study gals, have all gathered around this island to talk and eat and laugh… there’s always laughing. These lights haven’t changed the good conversation, problems solved, homework finished, chips and salsa eating, what would you dos?,  That are destined for this island. But now all of those treasured times to come will just be well lit under the light of three new (to us) pendant lights.

This has been another one of those projects that just feels so darn satisfying. We made bowls into lights! For like $60! No one else has these lights. They are Smith originals. Ha. That would work better if our name wasn’t Smith….you know what I mean.
It really drives home the philosophy that good things are worth the wait, AND here I go again, it’s so gratifying when you can do things with your own hands. People were meant to work, and create.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate everyone who reads, asks about my next post, encourages me to blog. Thank you.

XO, Steph


Monday, April 17, 2017

Upstairs Tour

Originally, we weren't interested in having two stories. We have previously lived in a two story house, but most recently, a single story. We had the land to spread out, and thought we would use it to build a one story house with a similar layout to what we had in Cedar Park. But, after some consideration, decided having two stories was the best way to first of all, really enjoy even more of our beautiful, sprawling views, but also as a way to "disguise" the size of the house. Obviously, we are planning to live in this house forever. So we were presented with the challenge of building a house to suit our current circumstances, but also a house we could stay in when we're empty nesters, and into our hopefully, old, old age.

Since I haven't shared any photos of the upstairs, I think it's time! The upstairs consists of a living area/playroom, and Carolynn and Landon's bedrooms and bathrooms. Here ya go:

Landon's First Big Boy Bed! 


In our previous home, I painted fat, orange stripes on Landon's bedroom wall. I loved them. I haven't tackled painting any walls but obviously my love of stripes remains. 

Landon's Favorite Toys in "The Bucket". 

Shower curtain from IKEA. Get it here:
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30264867/



Look at that cute pup, sunbathing.  ❤
These shelves hold books, but also craft supplies, coloring books, markers etc.
 I have been, and still am, seriously considering painting the darker bookshelf "old white" to give the two shelves a more cohesive look. The look of wall to wall bookshelves? Uh, yes. 

This way to Carolynn's room! 


I love her bed here! It looks like it is custom for this little nook.
(Also from IKEA, if you're interested.)


Those curtains and the rectangular pillow (shown in the last picture, and affectionately named, "the hot dog pillow") were a joint effort by Carolynn and I. I dusted off my sewing machine, fixed the bobbin-why is it ALWAYS broken?!-and we cranked out a pillow and two curtain panels in an afternoon. It really rekindled my love connection with sewing. It's such a great way to change things up on a budget! Fabric isn't exactly cheap, but a new pillow and curtain panels would have set us back at least double, probably triple what we spent on making them. ($12 if you're curious) They are a smidge too small for the window, so I'm staying humble about my sewing abilities. But, honestly, and I've already shared this with you, dear readers, thank you for reading this again: I think it's just better if you do it yourself. That advice is free. You're welcome. 

Also, this is where the little artist works/the sweet, precious little hoarder stashes all the papers she won't ever let me throw away. Even after I've put them in recycling, and she has to pull them out saying something like, "Moooooommmm! I worked so hard on this."
That's hypothetical, of course.

That's it! We have all really enjoyed the way the house it set up. The kids love that they can leave their toys out for days, if they're "still playing with them." You may have noticed Landon's blocks out on the table- they have been there for weeks. Since that  isn't the main living area, his "city" has been totally undisturbed and he has gone back to it over and over.

Working on a post about our new pendant lights we're working on, AND a super cozy little "office" I'm working on for Carolynn. Stay tuned! 
Thanks for reading. Really, thank you.  XO, Steph



Monday, April 10, 2017

How to make a springy, quick, and inexpensive Lemon Topiary Tree!



Happy Monday! It is gloomy, wet and dreary here at our sweet, yellow house this morning. 
But no worries, because I'm cleaning, crock pot cooking, laundering, and blogging. So it's shaping up to be a productive day, filled with the oh-so-gratifying to-do list checking.
I did an easy and super fun project Friday while the kids were at school and I have been looking forward to sharing it! It cost me less than $10 and took me about 15 minutes. Like, maybe 15 minutes. That only adds to my love for it, because it's just so pretty, and springy...and yellow. I give you....the Lemon Tree-piary.


I'm calling it a Tree-piary because it's really a hybrid between a topiary tree, and a tree tree. I also just think it's fun to smoosh words together. I do this often in my "speaking life" and continue to be amused by it. I can laugh at my own jokes, I have no problem with that. 😂

Here's my inspiration, from Instagram:
If you're on Instagram, Erin shares lots of beautiful photos of her amazing home and her amazing style. She also has a blog: http://www.cottonstem.com/blog/

Also, Alicia, @vintageporch. She also shares lots of inspirational photos of all her vintage treasures, and has impeccable taste. 

She also has a blog: http://www.myvintageporch.com/

Blog goals, people. I dream big.

Also, this: 


In my mind, that awesome lemon tree, and the topiary tree had a beautiful baby, and here is her "birth" story:

That pot was on promotion for 60% off at Michael's. Total: $2.39. I used coupons for the lemon stem, and the bag of small lemons. They are regularly priced at $7. I actually didn't end up using those mini lemons for this gig, but bought them just in case I needed some filler. Nothing worse than being mid-inspirational project and not having something you need.

That being said, here's your complete list of materials:

  • pot of your choice 
  • lemon stem, I got mine from Michael's 
  • moss
  • jute
  • floral foam, or styrofoam
  • sturdy paper strips, or bendable cardboard
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun


I already had roll of  jute, and some floral foam but if you don't have these things,  they can be found at most craft stores and  on Amazon. They aren't very expensive, and can be used in other projects. (Let me give a little PSA about the floral foam: it's obnoxious. It leaves little foamy pieces everywhere that are difficult to wipe up.  And somehow, as an extra irritating charascteristic, it feels simultaneously gritty and slimy. Touching it gives me the willies. blech. 😝)

 I cut the foam to fit into my pot. I centered the stem into the foam, and then very tightly wrapped the jute around the stem.



I used some recycled newspaper ads to make a prop inside my pot. This way, I use less of my moss to fill in the top.


I filled in the pot with the moss. A little bit goes a long way. The moss was also something I already had, from previous projects. It can also be found at a craft store. They usually sell it in bags.




Next, I used my hot glue gun to secure the lemons to each other, and ensure that topiary look.

I just love how it turned out and wish I had made two! I tried it out all over the house: my sofa table, my mantel, next to my sink:


I had fun moving it around, and loved the way it looked everywhere I put it. But, since my mantel is where I mostly struggle to "get settled", that's where it ended up. 

What do y'all think? I would love to know what y'all think! Let me know if you make your own Lemon Tree-piary, and send me a picture! Get it ready this week, in time for your Easter tablescape! 

This Easter tablescape created by Carolynn. Didn't she do a good job?! She also had an idea for the mini lemons, and begged me not to return them. More on that another day. 

Thank you so much for reading! I love your comments, questions and shares, so bring 'em on. Have a great week! 

XO, Steph 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Little Curtain that Could

Exciting news! Construction has begun on my parent's house! They will be on property about a mile away from us. They will be perfectly plopped right between us, and the ranchhouse. Can you say family. compound. "Hey mom, got a cup of sugar?" " Hey mom, want the kids to stay the night?"  You know. 👍
Seriously though, we're looking forward to them being here. Now, we just have to convince my sister and her husband to drink the country kool-aid. Just do it, sister. Don't fight the inevitable.

Anyway, one of the things I LOVE about this house is the windows. I refused my right to window coverings, and kept them all naked. Why not?! I even have windows right next to my shower, and in my closet. SO what?! I have no neighbors. I do what I want.
I let in all the sunshine, moonlight, starlight, construction workers driving by....eeeeeeeeek.
Ok, maaaayyyybe I need to consider a curtain. Next to my shower.

The road isn't exactly close to our house, but I had a lost construction employee ring my doorbell last week so we'll just take the precautions. This house is BUILT, pal. You're in the wrong place.

Here's where the longest valance in history comes in. Welcome, longest valance in history. My mom passed this on to me from the ranchhouse they have in New Mexico. She found it, and some other treasures she found tucked back into a closet when cleaning last summer. I have no idea where they had this up, but it was clearly a continuous valance meant to cover 4, or more windows. I loved it's tassels and it's history-whatever that may have been. (Surely it didn't "live" in the closet after all the sewing time they put in on it?!) I have been waiting for just the right inspiration, and the time is now. I'm inspired. To not be seen leaving my shower.




I measured my window, and cut the fabric into strips. I knew I didn't have enough to cover the whole window, but I think the amount I had worked out just right. You'll see....




Ok, so I do sew. kinda. I can cover pillows, hem things, I have made curtains. But, I cranked out this curtain with a hot glue gun. It was stupid easy and I didn't even burn a fingertip. 

I told you. Right. Next. to the shower. 


I apologize for the poor photography skills on behalf of the person, whomever she is, taking these photos. She needs to take the advice of her well meaning friends who have suggested she take a photography class. 

I really like the way this window treatment turned out and love that it combines several things that make my heart happy: old things (from family-bonus!), practical things, and cheap/free things....and a new one: Not awkwardly waving to your parent's concrete guy in your birthday suit things. 

Thank you, Thank you for stopping by. I really appreciate everyone who reads. XO, Steph

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Adventures in Fencing


 Hello little seedlings! Are you ready to go to your new home? You are?? I'm sorry, it's not ready...

First, we have to drive in 7 T-posts.


We have to till up some soil. 


Pull out  a hundred some freakin rocks 

Roll out this wire fencing

Attach it with T-post hooks

Welcome Home!


Welcome babies! You are planted in nutrient rich soil, in a homemade raised bed, and protected inside a fence. Grow babies, grow! 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Smiths do Round Top

Through the years, Brian and I have shared a love of garage sale, flea market, and antique store shopping. When we were dating, and first married, in college, we would hit up this flea market outside of Nacogdoches on Saturday mornings. We got his clock there:

I'm pretty sure we paid less than $10 for it (Brian says $5). It's lived with us in our apartment in Nac, our house in Houston, our house in Cedar Park, and now Driftwood. It still works and everything.


These days, our 'people's old trash' shopping experience is limited to the yearly Settlement Home garage sale in Austin (https://www.settlementhome.org/garage-sale/). Plug: The sale raises money for a great cause, The Settlement Home for Children, so if you're looking for a great place to donate, here's some ways you can help: https://www.settlementhome.org/waystogive/. Brian and I look forward to this all year. We have found many treasures there. Some vintage finds, like our antique desk, and this washboard, hanging on the stairwell gallery wall:


But, we also got our food processor and weed eater there too. I pretty much outfit my kids for the whole year from that sale. Like cute, boutique stuff and matching Christmas pajamas. Yes, please. 
Anyway, all that said, Brian and I have been really wanting to get some "new" (and by new, I mean new to us) things for this house. The challenge is that you have to be hunting for these items for as long as it takes. This requires patience, and acceptance, of your current space which doesn't quite align with your vision yet.

These days, you can re-do your whole house in a few hours at a furniture store. ("These days"?! Excuse me while I put on my bifocals, and get out my crossword. Is it cold in here? I need my sweater.) -Not knocking that at all by the way. Not everyone wants dead people's stuff in their house. If I was offered a Pottery Barn shopping spree-forget it. I take it all back. I love new stuff. (that's not sarcasm-my first language. That stuff is awesome.)
But, making things, re-doing old things, and finding those things takes time. 

As part of the hunt, about once a week, or so, Landon and I hit up the Goodwill nearest us to, "look for treasures". And, I have found some. Like this crate, for example:


Landon also found a Buzz Lightyear toy. I'm sure he would say was that was our greatest accomplishment on those trips.

But, this week, Brian and I did something we've wanted to do for a long time. We went to ROUND TOP. If you don't know, Round Top refers to about 10 miles of tents and shops in and near Round Top, TX. All filled with vendors peddling their wares. Many vintage, antique goodies, some rustic-looking creations, furniture....some of it is in the style of a garage sale:  a large table with a mound of tetanus, errr...rusty knobs, and old keys. Some of it beautifully styled, and usually more pricey. 
In one word: overwhelming. I think I was lost the whole time. "You'll give me a million dollars if I can point to where we parked?" Can't do it. I'm surrounded by chippy, rusty, dusty treasures and I can't, and don't want to, find my way out.
We walked from shop to shop from 10 AM-6 PM. My pedometer (on my phone. No, I didn't wear one on my belt.) clocked us at about 20 miles. So, if you're thinking of going, wear good shoes, take your water, and put on sunscreen.
And, if you're like me, maybe bring your flare gun/smoke signaling equipment.

Soooooo, here's some of the things we found in Round Top:

Side Table

Living Room Rug
Oktoberfest Table


That table right? We have had our eye on outdoor eating furniture/blogs about building our own, since we moved. We have two huge porches, and gorgeous views. The guys we bought this from were German, and informed us that the tables/benches are used by breweries for Munich's Oktoberfest (big party of tents with thousands of these tables drinking all day). They had like a thousand of these tables and benches you could mix and match. We sorted through many of them, but ended up being happy with all three pieces. We love that the table, and the benches can fold up, so they can be stored/moved easily. But, they are long and skinny, so they fit really well on the porch without taking up too much space.

We left feeling happy with our purchases, and had so much fun. I would go back tomorrow, but I think Brian would settle for next year. 

Thanks for reading! XO, Steph