I picked up this lovely wooden magazine rack for $3 at the local Salvation Army, hoping it would serve as a temporary end table next to my side of the reclining couch. The rack was in good shape, with the knobby end pieces needing to be tightened and the bottom shelf piece needing glue or nails to keep from sliding back and forth. When Charlie inspected my new purchase, he kindly offered to attach a piece of leftover wood to the bottom shelf for stabilization. I love my husband so much.

As soon as Charlie cut and nailed the extra piece of wood to the bottom of the magazine rack, I started priming it with some leftover yellow paint from the kitchen paint project. I was searching for ideas and inspiration on Pinterest about repainting the magazine rack when I briefly glanced at a picture tutorial of adding stickers to the side and painting over them for a textured look. Hmmmmm. I can do that!

Luckily, a packet of heart stickers were just lying around the kitchen counter because I hadn’t found a place for them in my completely unorganized workroom. Eight hearts in the package. Four hearts to each side. I think these stickers were meant for this project! Having the hearts simply run down the side was a simple but pretty design, and I didn’t waste time with a ruler — I just eyeballed the space between the hearts.

I’m really not looking for pure perfection with the sticker placement or my paint job for that matter. As long as the paint drips aren’t too big or outrageous, I’m totally cool with small imperfections. I found myself itching to work on the project during the evenings, which meant sitting in the basement with the box fan. Fortunately, the cats had no desire to help or bother me so I was safe for a few days.

I think I have a magazine rack addiction. After having lunch with a friend and her adorable 1-year-old kid a few weeks after picking up the first magazine rack, we ended up at the Salvation Army store and I nabbed TWO more wooden racks! The darker colored one was $3 — and I would’ve been cool with paying that — but it had a 50% off sticker. No internal debate was necessary. And I didn’t need to talk myself into buying the second rack for the full price of $3.

Was yellow too babyish? Too bright? Charlie suggested placing one of the magazine racks next to the couch and looking at it among the surrounding. My husband is a smart man. I followed his suggestion when the magazine rack was dry enough to handle, and I was pleasantly surprised how much I like the pop of yellow in the sea of rich brown decor. Satisfied yellow was the correct color choice, I continued to paint two of the three racks.

For now the first newly painted magazine rack sits beside my side of the couch and holds my laptop until I can find end tables that meet my high expectations. I’m really happy that I stuck with yellow because it pops next to the brown couch and matches the curtains. The rack is perfect for housing my laptop instead of leaving it on the couch’s armrest. One yellow magazine rack down two more to go.

The second wooden magazine rack was in good shape but it was a little rough around the edges — literally. Maybe whoever made it was aiming for a rustic look because some areas definitely needed sandpaper. After sanding some areas here and there, I simply gave the second magazine rack a few coats of yellow paint over the course of a few days. Now, it sits in one of the bathrooms holding extra rolls of toilet paper. And the third and final magazine rack? Well, that one deserves its own post. Stay tuned.


Like a moron, I had forgotten to take a “before” picture of a simple plant stand I had found at a local consignment store. Even though I have no plans to use it as an actual plant stand, the simple design, the price ($7), and the possibilities persuaded me to buy it. After tightening the screws on the legs (an easy fix), I decided the wood stained plant stand needed to match everything else in my house.

Because the stand was laminate, I covered it with a white spray-on primer and left it to dry for a few hours, which was probably longer than necessary. I was actually surprised how quickly I painted the plant stand despite all the curves and nooks. Two days was all I needed to cover it with two to three coats. After letting the stand dry outside for a few days, I loved the smooth feel when I ran my fingers over it so I opted not to use a top coat.

At first I had no idea how I was going to use the stand, but then a brilliant idea (brilliant might be an overstatement) hit me. A mail stand next to the door leading into the garage! Charlie usually checks the mail when he comes home from work, and after rifling through it, he can leave everything on the stand for me. Brilliant!


Now that the cats have a new feeding stand, an old wood project from my high school years can be touched up and used for something else. Woot! So a long time ago I decided to make a new stand for my dad’s stereo/record player (hence no top) for a shop project. Even with careful measuring and well meaning plans, the stereo didn’t fit my thoughtfully made stand. Even now, I know where I had made my mistake, but all the shop terms and lingo have long escaped my mind that I can’t correctly explain my error.

Obviously, my dad couldn’t use the new stereo stand so I think my younger sister, Becky, moved it to her room and used it for something I can’t remember. I’m not even 100% positive Becky nabbed it for her use when I was still in high school, but I remember she had it when she moved into her first house with her husband. Whenever I visited her and saw the stand, I thought, “Hey! I made that!” Then a second thought usually occurred to me, “Why does Becky have it and not me?”

A few years ago, Becky finally returned the stand to me, and it was used to hold a canvas bin and then a feeding stand for the cats. I’m not quite sure what happened to the proposed stereo stand after all these years, and despite all the nicks, scratches and unexplained color splatter (the brown streaks were my test to check if I should use a primer before slathering it in brown paint), it still holds up. My craftsmanship is just amazing! Maybe I should have my own show on HGTV.

The stand was finished with a stain so I guess I needed a primer to help the brown paint adhere. To be honest, I’m still learning what items should be primed before painting. And if I prime, can I use old leftover paint AND primer (as most paints these days are) for my base? Or do I need a special primer? I had plenty of old leftover paint plus primer that I had used as a primer on the step stool and the cats’ new feeding stand so I just used that instead of running to the hardware store.

I am so new to repurposing old furniture into something new that I don’t even know how many prime coats are needed. One? Two? Since I have no idea I have been using one coat of prime before focusing on the brown paint. Stupid Pinterest projects — the pins look so easy. I spent a few days painting the stereo stand a deep rich brown that I had used on the feeding stand and the step stool, which leads me to a question. Does all the decor in the house need to match?

Our color scheme is a basic rich brown — the reclining couch, TV cubicle stand, and some other small pieces are all deep brown. Should everything match? Or should I throw caution to the wind and paint something red or gray or some other color that complements the color scheme? This is why I’m not an interior designer. Anyway, after days of painting and touching up small areas the stand was ready for the final top coat. A sealant, I guess. Have I mentioned I’m not a professional painter?

Riley gives me the stink eye because I won’t let him outside (he’s an indoor cat). The patio screen door is used when someone can keep an eye on the furry little turd because he likes to press his body weight against the screen to pop it out. In the background of the picture, do you see the upside down food dish? That’s his handiwork and the reason for the new feeding stand. I love my little troublemaker. Who can resist that big ball of orange fur?

I decided the old stereo stand is the perfect place for the paper shredder to sit on top and binders containing important paperwork inside the cabinet. A slim magazine holder — to house documents ready for the shredder — will fill the small space between the paper shredder and the right edge. Once the previously white cabinet stand is ready for use, it will go next to the paper shredder stand and be filled with office supplies.


With some plywood and some 2×4, Charlie built a new feeding stand for Clara and Riley because Riley, the troublemaker, likes to push the dish off the current stand and spill the food all over the floor. Before giving the cats their new gift, I needed to paint it. Using some leftover paint I found in the basement from the previous homeowners, I primed the feeding stand and an old step stool my dad built when I was younger.

I didn’t have my phone with me when I primed the feeding stand and the step stool, and I thought, “Oh, I have plenty of time to take photos. I’ll do it later.” Instead of taking pictures, I dove right into the brown paint because I’m a moron. For proof that I actually primed both items, I snapped a shot of the area in the backyard where I painted. I figured the lawnmower would take care of the painted grass. I was wrong.

Once the feeding stand and the step stool had been primed with the old paint (one coat because I don’t really know any better), I started painting both items a rich brown to match the other decor (bookcases, couch, etc.) in the house. I used a smaller paint brush because I felt I had more control and I could take my time. My reasoning probably doesn’t make any sense to anyone else, but I feel rushed when using a bigger brush.

Nothing fancy — just a simple step stool my dad built a long time ago and moved it from house to house. I nabbed it when he cleaned out his last house. I probably could add a monogram or something cute, but my project list is way too long right now. A fresh coat of paint definitely made the step stool look nicer and made me happier.

The feeding stand was a few brush strokes away from being complete when Charlie added some trim to the top because Riley likes to either push or tip the slow-eating food dish over the edge for easier access to the food. Charlie believes the trim will keep the food dish in place despite Riley’s attempts to knock it the ground. Time will tell who will win this battle.

Just a few paint coats away from moving the feeding stand from the back porch to the living room, where Miss Clara and Riley can jump up on and whine for food. My little troublemakers definitely have been testing the boundaries, believing the new environment means the kitchen table and new kitchen counter are no longer off limits to them. They are so wrong.

Ta-da! Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful! The new feeding stand fits perfectly between the kitchen and the living room and the top shelf seems big enough for both cats to eat peacefully. We stuck plastic cutting boards underneath the dishes because the cats paw out a kernel of food and eat it off a flat surface. As long as their feeding schedule was not disrupted, Clara and Riley adjusted quickly to the new feeding stand. Yay!


Due to lack of attention, water, and some sunshine, Beatrice passed away sometime in late July or early August. I tried coaxing her back to life with water, plant food, and a few snips here and there, but she never fully recovered even when I moved her to the new house. Sitting right in front of the house with plenty sun and water from the occasional rain, Beatrice remained brown and bare — a reminder that I really can’t garden or take care of a plant. Rest in peace, Beatrice. Your colorful blooms made me smile.

On the brighter side the new house is surrounded by a nice mix of bushes, shrubs, and flowers. I am especially fond of this little patch of purple flowers (peony? petunia?) in the front by the hose. I’m surprised the pretty flowers have lasted this long because the hose probably runs over them whenever I’m yanking it to water the lawn.


I absolutely love visiting the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wis., toward late summer/early fall. Charlie and I met with friends to watch “A Flea in Her Ear,” a comedy about mistaken identity, misunderstandings and miscommunication.

Back to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens … the trio ducks swam our way when my friends and I started tossing peanuts into the water. In our defense, the super cute and adorable 2-year-old kind of made a mess of her peanuts, and if she wasn’t going to eat the peanuts then why not feed them to the ducks? I just hope they don’t have peanut allergies.

Depending on the bug and flying insect population at the gardens, I wouldn’t mind sitting in one of the many chairs strategically placed around the place and reading a book for a little while.

Just me and Charlie sitting on the steps at the Thai Pavilion and Garden. The Madison weekend trip gave us a few days away from the new house and the cats in the new house, but a friend of mine stopped by to make sure my Clarabug and my Rileypoo weren’t freaking out and looking lost without us. They were fine.

Any place that can combine flowers and water is a place where I want to be.

When I look at this picture I just want to jump in and immediately head straight for the waterfall. If people weren’t around and a wooden railing wasn’t blocking my path, I would have no problem sitting under the waterfall on a hot day.

My attempt at an artistic snapshot of flowers on lilypads in water. I really should just be grateful I didn’t stop my phone in the water.

If you’re in the Madison area and love flowers and plants, I highly recommend walking around the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The place is beautiful and inspiring, and I look forward to the next visit.



Author unknown
Source: Dr. Larry Bethune, “From Remembrance to Hope”

As the soot and dirt and ash rained down,
We became one color.

As we carried each other down the stairs of the burning building,
We became one class.

As we lit candles of waiting and hoping,
We became one generation.

As the firefighters and police officers fought their way into the inferno,
We became one gender.

As we fell to our knees in prayer for strength,
We became one faith.

As we whispered or shouted words of encouragement,
We spoke one language.

As we gave our blood in lines a mile long,
We became one body.

As we mourned together the great loss,
We became one family.

As we cried tears of grief and loss,
We became one soul.

As we retell with pride the sacrifice of heroes,
We become one people.


Anytime Charlie and I visit the Madison area the Olbrich Botanical Gardens is one of the places I have wanted to wandered around but never had a chance. During a recent trip to visit friends and see two plays at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wis., I finally received the chance to walk around the beautiful garden grounds.

How beautiful are these zinnias? I had seen zinnias when I worked at the floral nursery, but I hadn’t seen this type of zinnia with honeycomb-type body and different-colored crown above the petals.

The day my friends and I visited we saw two different wedding couples and a quinceanera (the teen girl wore a beautiful strapless teal dress with layered ruffled tulle — I remember because I wanted the dress even though I have no event to wear it to) party posing for pictures around the garden grounds. I’m not surprised people and professional photographers would pick the gardens for its perfect picturesque background.

Honestly any of the different sections offers a place of serenity and peace, but the Thai Pavilion and Garden was probably my favorite. According to the garden’s web site, the Thai government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association gave the pavilion as a gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison since the university has one of the largest Thai populations in the country.

The vibrant colors of one of the areas in the Thai Pavilion and Garden immediately caught my eye. Unfortunately, according to Charlie’s mom, most — if not all — of the flowers are annuals which means they need to be dug out and replanted every year (a little tidbit I learned during my seasonal gig at the floral nursery).

I was aiming for an artistic shot with this picture. A single flower among lily pads in water in the Thai Pavilion and Garden section.

I think this beautiful little flower kind of looks like a paper lantern. While I couldn’t find a sign identifying the flower, I wondered about the red, orange, and purple pepper-like blooms (not pictured) also hanging on the plant. Come back soon for the second part of the spotlight on the Olbrich Botanical Gardens!


Riley: “Hey, I see some stuff up here! Now, where can I jump up on this shelf?” As soon as Riley and Clara moved to the new house, they were trapped in the basement for about half the day, letting them know this was their sanctuary and where their litterboxes are.

The basement didn’t seem to excite the cats because not much stuff was in it other than their litterboxes and a huge shelf where I plan to store my craft stuff. After exploring the basement, they both settled down on the second shelf behind some canvas totes we had moved there for temporary storage.

Finally out of the basement! Riley makes himself comfortable on a stair leading to the second floor. The little troublemaker has discovered how to open the kitchen pantry doors and pull out two roller drawers (one in the kitchen and one in the upstairs bathroom).

Riley won’t be laying on the cubicle in the living room for long once Charlie and I move the big TV there. The cats weren’t enthusiastic about being trapped in the basement for a few hours while the moving guys hauled the big furniture into the house, but I hope the familiar furniture will help them settle in.

Yeah, I know Riley is the subject of most the photos in this post, but he’s the troublemaker. He’s the brave explorer. Clara prefers to lay low underneath the night stands in the master bedroom, but every now and then, she’ll wander around the house. I’m not completely sold on the gumball machine’s placement in the middle of a cubicle bookcase and the white stand thingy (which I plan to paint brown at some point).