Author Archives: Dwelling On A Dime

Best/Favorite Beauty Buys of 2016!

Best/Favorite Beauty Buys of 2016!

Hello 2017!

I haven’t blogged in a VERY long time, but I have enough friends asking for makeup tips/lessons/recommendations that this entry seemed the perfect foray back into the world of blogging. I know this blog was created for the journey of moving into my house and making it home, but I’m going to digress a bit today!

I am going to post my favorite beauty buys of the year. Not only have I found them to be absolutely stellar products, but anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with getting the best deal. Yes, my “couponer” tendencies carry over into makeup, because you won’t believe what I scored some of these products for!

It is no secret that I prefer prestige brands, but you’ll see I have some budget products in my extensive arsenal that I refuse to live without! I’m also going to highlight one brand in particular that is so affordable and insanely good in terms of quality.

Without further delay, and in no particular order, here are my favorite 2016 beauty buys:

1.) Lorac’s “Cue the Confetti” blush palette. Regular $30, and I scored it for just $12 after a 50% off sale plus a coupon for 20% off.

I really wanted a blush palette in my collection that would be seasonless, quality, and fun. Blushes are fun to me, and if the colors and brand didn’t sell me at first sight (obsessed with Lorac), then the packaging and rose gold brush that was included would have gotten me! The blushes are all buildable, blendable, and insanely pigmented…a dream to work with. The packaging design reminds me of “The Great Gatsby”.


2.) Urban Decay’s “Blackmail” Vice Lipstick Palette, originally $35, purchased by me for $20 after a $10 off sale plus a 20% off coupon.

UD unveiled its Vice lipstick line in 2016, and the color array is INSANE. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some…um, except, I then saw that each was $17. I don’t have great lips and don’t wear much lipstick. I try to spend my money on products I really will use. However, then UD released the Blackmail palette at Ulta…a PALETTE for lipsticks?! Some of the shades included were my favorites. I love having numerous shades from the line at my fingertips, the palette itself is sturdy without being huge, the included retractable brush is nice, and I’m really enjoying this one. There’s a palette variation called “Junkie” at Sephora.


3.) Smashbox “Light It Up” Primer + Primer Water set…holiday set for $36 that I scored for just $18 half off at Macy’s!

Purchased separately at regular price, you’re paying $60! I have been a devotee of Smashbox primer for many years. It is fabulous, it keeps your makeup on, blurs your pores, and lasts the day. Because of its quality and staying power, I use less of this one than I have to of others to achieve the same result. This was an insane deal…I got super lucky on this find.


4.) Real Techniques makeup brushes…all of mine were purchased for 50% off in small sets!

You do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, need to buy expensive makeup brushes to get fabulous results! I have found these brushes to be excellent in terms of quality, and the value cannot be beat. They will last, too! Before you run out to buy brushes by It, MAC, UD, Anastasia, etc…give these a try, and I am sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Did I mention that it never hurts that they’re gorgeous, too?! For other brushes that are economical and do the job well, try Eco Tools or BH Cosmetics.


5.) Pur Cosmetics’ “Transformation” Palette…originally $32, purchased half off for $16!

First off, this one is worth it all day every day at the original price. I can’t say enough about it! The colors are unique, the pigmentation is INSANE, and everything blends like an absolute dream. For fall/winter, the palette is pure perfection. Even still, I can see this being amazing in the summer. See the gold? IT’S unreal…I’m serious. It’s the most vibrant, metallic, true gold shade I have ever seen. The creme blush is perfect for any skin tone, the creme bronzer makes for a perfect contour on the go, and that shimmering black? I still cannot tell if it’s powder or cream (or some sort of hybrid of both). It allows you to turn any combination of the shadows into a smokey look AND makes a great eyeliner. This palette breaks the mold in so many ways. You can go loud and vibrant or more understated with the champagne shimmer shadow with the maroon/brown in the corners. Even better? Pur uses better/kinder ingredients and is cruelty-free! GO. PICK. THIS. UP. NOW. Seriously…do it…it’s disappearing more each day as the sales go on.


6.) BH Cosmetics’ “Studio Pro” Concealer wheel…purchased on sale for (yes, you’re about to read this correctly) $4. Seriously.

BH Cosmetics is amazing…please check them out. Drugstore prices and prestige quality! This little gem is something I’d be lost without. Our faces are not just one color, and different areas need their own color match. This concealer palette allows me to get the best match, and the coverage is wonderful, especially over primer! The yellow literally erases dark circles or undereye redness, and the other shades let me conceal to my liking no matter if I am winter pale or summer tan. I bought the light/medium shade (top right). It’s so good, I got one for my sister and hope she loves it as well. This is a staple product I couldn’t do without! Even better? It blends as great with a finger as it does with a brush.


7.) Maybelline “Define and Fill” Brow Duo (my shade is “soft brown”). $7

I have tried a million brow products in my years wearing makeup! This cheapie-but-goodie is a keeper for me! I can lightly trace over sparse areas with the pencil and fill in with the powder end. It allows for a less “harsh” finish, and lasts all day. Before you try Anastasia or Benefit…give this one a “go”.


8.) Anastasia Beverly Hills’ “Master Palette by Mario”…originally $45, purchased by me for $35 after Macy’s had a $10 off beauty coupon.

This is a collaboration between ABH and Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist, Mario Devidanovic. He named the shadows for influential people and places in his life, and wanted to create highly wearable shades with perfect texture. Well? Mission accomplished. This is so damn perfect…and it sold out in what felt like mere minutes. Thousands of people were never able to get one. I waited too late, and by sheer luck, got the LAST ONE that Macy’s had in stock on their website. After I bought it, they never got any more! The jewel tones are to-die-for, and I have created some of my most beautiful looks with this amazing, stunning palette. The shadows are buttery, velvety, and intensely pigmented…yet blending them out is effortless. My favorite look is “Luna” and a touch of “Isabel” in the crease, “Marina” on the lid, and “NYC” in the outer corners, with a little black on the outer “v” for some “smoke”. Oh, and that brush it comes with? Superb.


9.) Urban Decay’s “Primer Potion”…originally $20, purchased for $6 and change each during UD’s holiday sale (I bought 3)!

This shadow primer has been my “ride or die” for many years, and I still think it’s the best. It is the sole reason my oily-tending Mediterranean skin can even wear eyeshadow! It prevents creasing and fading quite well. You can find it on sale for $8 right now at Sephora. Jump on this sale now, because they changed the packaging and from this superior squeeze tip to a sponge applicator. You want this “old” version, trust me!


10.) Tarte’s “Amazonian Clay” Powder Foundation/Mini Buki Brush…foundation usually costs $36 and the brush is $28. I scored both in a kit that included a number of other Tarte products for just $40 total. I practically stole these!

I dislike liquid foundation, and this gem of a find has amazed me! The coverage is flawless, the ingredients are “clean”, and the brush feels like silk against my skin. This isn’t cheap, but it’s the best powder foundation around and a little goes a long way. It doesn’t take much for excellent coverage! I never knew a powder foundation could be this heavenly. Blows Bare Minerals out of the water!


11.) Lorac’s “Pro Contour” Palette (Brush included), $45. I gladly paid full price.

This is one of the “workhorse” products in my arsenal. I chose this kit over similar ones by Tarte, Anastasia, UD, etc. Lorac has a level of blendability and softness that most others cannot match. These shades will work for any skin tone, the highlight is finely milled, and the included brush is actually pretty nice. Contouring is life-changing and a good kit is key to achieving a great look…because if you do it wrong or are heavy handed, you look like Skeletor! I can honestly say I would be LOST without this product.


12.) Maybelline “Great Lash” Mascara…$3.99-$5.99, depending on sales.

Need I say more? I have been wearing this mascara since high school faithfully. I have tried them all, and I keep coming back. The only one I love more? Lancome Definicils…buttttt it’s $27!


13.) Lancome “Cils Booster” XL Mascara Primer…$25 or $13 in travel size. I got mine in a giant kit that I bought for $50, so I pretty much stole it.

This is the BEST mascara primer on the market. It gives my annoying, straight lashes definition, length, volume, and my mascara never flakes or quits. When my full size runs out, I’ll purchase the travel size. I love it that much! A single coat takes care of both eyes, top and bottom, so it lasts a long time!


14.) Neutrogena Makeup Remover wipes…$4-$7, depending on sales.

This is another of my “ride or die” products. I have used them for over a decade, and they remove every trace of my makeup without irritating my sensitive skin. What more can you ask for, and for such a bargain price?!


15.) E.L.F. Liquid Eyeliner, $2 (Yes…$2. Really).

If you are not steady-handed and you want to try, learn, and practice with liquid liner, I always recommend a brush-tip and NOT a felt-tip! This one is a brush-tip that allows for as thin or thick a line as you please. Yes, prestige brands are far more pigmented, deeper black, and less watery. But for $2?! My goodness, it’s a good product, anyone can afford it, and you just can’t go wrong.


16.) BH Cosmetics “Forever Nude” Contour & Blush Palette. Purchased on sale for just $8.

If you want to learn to contour, want a quality kit, and can’t afford $40+ for one of the prestige brands, this is your winner. You will not be disappointed! It blends beautifully, includes a yellow matte highlighter that will neutralize red in the skin, especially under the eyes, a nice shimmer highlight, a gorgeous shimmer blush similar to NARS “orgasm” (a pricey cult favorite), and 2 deeper contour shades. It comes in light/medium and medium/dark. It is truly a “full face” product that is great quality at an economical price. I love it, and gave one to my sister (I want to teach her how to contour and highlight).


17.) Pur Cosmetics “Elevation” Highlighter Palette with fan brush, $15.

This is another excellent product by Pur. I have seen prestige brand highlight palettes for $40+. This little palette packs a punch AND even comes with a great, travel-friendly fan brush for application. The 3 shades are beautiful, nicely pigmented, and wear well. I will even use the peachy gold as an eyeshadow in the spring/summer.If you want this one, I advise you to go grab it, because it was a holiday 2016 offering and is disappearing. I snagged the last one at my Ulta store. This is so worth the price tag….no need to spend more!


18.) BH Cosmetics “Carli Bybel” Palette…$14.50 (I used a $3.50 off Ulta coupon and got mine for just $11).

I hope I am convincing you to try BH as a brand! This palette ( a collab with Youtuber Carli Bybel) could EASILY be a $40 prestige palette due to the quality. These shadows and highlighters are buttery, smooth, and so easy to blend. The pigmentation is more intense than any budget brand. There is no way anyone couldn’t love this palette…the mattes are lovely, the shimmers are velvety, and the highlighters are gorgeous.


19.) Urban Decay “Naked Smokey” Palette…Normally $54, went on sale for $27 and I had a $10 UD Kickback on my account, so mine cost me a mere $17!!!

In my opinion, this is the only UD Naked palette worth getting. It is intensely versatile, and can be used to create both understated and deeply smokey looks. The mattes are awesome, the deep shades smoke the outer corners perfectly, and the lighter shimmers are beautiful. It has champagnes/gold, purples, browns, greys/black…I love this one. In fact, it is the ONLY UD palette I have ever loved. I can do so much with it.


20.) Honest Beauty Sheer Lip Crayon in “Sheer Rose Kiss”…$18, purchased mine for $13.50.

Even $13.50 is a lot to me for a single lip product, but my goodness…this one is my absolute favorite! Jessica Alba’s Honest Beauty line uses clean and organic ingredients, and this shade is a pretty pop of sheer color that looks wonderful with my coloring. A little goes a long way, and it’s lasting forever. I will absolutely repurchase this! No wonder it’s won awards!


21.) Tarte’s “Tarteist Pro to Go” Eyeshadow Palette…normally $23, purchased for $16 on sale.

I am obsessed with this mini palette. The colors are perfection for me. I got 2 so I won’t ever run out of it, and the shadows smell like vanilla. As if that isn’t fun enough, the shadows are richly pigmented and blend like a dream. As with all Tarte products, it is cruelty-free and made of clean ingredients. This palette is super travel-friendly and I adore every single shade in it.



The Unveiling of Babygirl’s Nursery


Brace yourselves and buckle up, because this is going to be a long one! SO much time and effort went into this nursery for my daughter, not to mention blood, sweat, and tears (I literally thought my back was going to snap in half at one point).

We found out the night before the first day of school back in early September that we were expecting. At this time, our daughter was nothing more than a faint pink line on a test!

To start at the beginning, I have to go back to July. As soon as we decided to let “whatever happens happen”, the notorious planner and prepper in me got to work right away! Children had never really been in my life’s plan, so I never allowed myself to imagine things like what our nursery would look like. I started looking online for ideas and found details I liked, but nothing that was right. I scoured thrift stores and Craigslist and my taste began to take shape. When I found what I loved, I pounced without thinking, knowing in my usual style that it would come together in the end. Boy or girl, I knew I wanted to work with a lot of what I had in the guest room, that I wanted my favorite neutrals (khaki/beige, warm white, shabby blue) to be the color scheme. As for a theme, I wanted a shabby cottage type of look with a subtle beachy vibe (that part got stronger as time went on). There are adorable nurseries full of ruffles, pink, blue, cars, and monsters…but none of those specific themes felt right. We knew we would opt to learn our baby’s gender, but we knew that neutral for me would never come in the form of yellows and greens (which frankly, I can’t stand).

As I searched and got a feel for what I gravitated towards, I came across one set of baby bedding in particular. Once I laid eyes on it, it was all I could think about. I had a visceral reaction to it and felt like it was designed for me. Knowing nothing about baby brands, I did my research….and almost passed out! I must have a good eye, because I had set my sights on Glenna Jean’s “Central Park” collection. Glenna Jean is the priciest baby bedding on the market, heirloom quality, made in the USA, designer, the whole nine. Not only were the colors exactly what I envisioned, it had the spirit of an heirloom quilt and the most wonderful textured accents. The set and accessories I wanted also came in at a steep $567. YIKES!!! Here’s my “love at first sight” set:


See? Serene, calm, cottage-esque, neutral, vintage-inspired.

I came to terms with the fact that I would never be able to afford that. About a week later, I nearly fainted when I saw a listing pop up on Craigslist for none other than the baby bedding of my dreams, in mint condition…for $40. Yes, you read that correctly. We were in the car and picking it up that same morning. It was all the bedding, a mobile, a diaper stacker, changing pad cover, etc. Score!

Next up was finding a crib! I knew I wanted white (no dark wood for me) and that I preferred a more modern style or a vintage-inspired Jenny Lind style. I found one I adored on a yard sale site, but it lacked the shabby feel I wanted. The fix? Jeff and I had a great time taking it out back in pieces and taking the power sander to it to distress it. An added bonus is that we now have a great memory to go with it. It was a BRU brand crib by Baby Cache. Ones extremely similar to it on the site now sell for between $350-$500. We paid just $80 for a crib 2 years old!


We snagged a Colgate brand baby mattress in great shape for $10 to go with the crib. Some say don’t buy used, I say find one in excellent shape and go for it.

A changing table? I didn’t like the new ones I was seeing. The lines were off, and nothing felt right. Then, a friend had a vintage, spindle-style (the Jenny Lind lines I love) changing table to trade me for a child’s bench I found. Cost? Free! All I did was take it from this:


to this:


To this:


And now, finally, with some shabbying up and tweaks…this (its final incarnation)


Every last accessory for it came from a thrift store, and one was gifted from a friend. The changing pad was also free!

I was adamant that I needed a storage chest in the room for things like diapers, wipes, formula, bath items, etc. I found this $20 wood chest secondhand and painted it up:


What to do above the crib? An old, salvaged shutter solved that problem quickly. I decided that the name would be displayed on it close to her birth (since her name is a secret), and that a curtain rod and thrifted curtains would add an interesting element to the sides of the crib, framing it out. The result is a little unique, but one I am happy with:


After the crib, I set out to find either a nice, used bassinet or a cradle. I found a gorgeous white Jenny Lind style rocking cradle on Craigslist with eyelet bumper and pad for just $10! This will go in the master bedroom for her first couple weeks home so that she can room in with us:


Again, I adore this vintage style, and it is extremely similar to a crib in design and feel, hopefully easing the transition later on!

Next came a place to rock and feed the baby. After realizing a wooden rocker would not be comfortable enough, I decided to price out a glider and ottoman. THAT was a shock…with the least expensive coming in at close to $200 and going to up about $600. My problem was solved when a friend posted her old glider and ottoman for sale, that I was now the third owner of! It was covered in deep brown baby blanket fabric that wouldn’t show stains and had a pale wood frame that went with the room. She and her husband delivered it…cost just $35! After the addition of a $5 rose pillow (my daughter’s middle name) and a $3 turquoise geometric pillow cover, the look was complete:


That ombre blue, numbered chest in the photo with zinc paint-job on the sides was a fun thrift-store makeover blogged in a previous entry. It fits in the nursery so well!

Next, and here was the doozy…is the furniture. My mom had graciously gifted us a set of dark pine furniture that had been in the family nearly 50 years, though it was in very rough shape. No drawers worked right, the wood was pitted and pocked in some spots, some hardware had broken, etc. But my brother used it growing up and it had sentimental value. I called around to furniture repair shops, but nobody wanted to take on such a small job (repairing all the drawer tracks). What did my husband do? Got out his tools and made them work again! The sides of the dressers and nightstand were a laminate as was a top layer, with the drawers being solid wood. Paint was the only solution. By now, we knew we were expecting a little girl, and I wanted something that could grow with her through the years, be neutral, and yet manage to be neutral and just girly enough. I decided on shabby, warm beachy white for the frames ,and a sand color for the drawers. The drawers also had a subtle crackle finish to add a nice textural detail and mimic wear/age. I kept the original pulls, painting them an aqua blue and highlighting them with white, and I found PERFECT turquoise blue mercury glass knobs for the top drawers. This total rehab was a major undertaking, one that was a lot for me to take on while pregnant and not feeling well. Still, at almost 30 weeks today, I am getting bigger and more achy/uncomfortable, so I needed to push through and get it done. Here is what I was working with before:


Simply too dark for a nursery, and in need of serious elbow grease. By the way, you should avoid regular paint while pregnant! I used Shabby Paints by Two Peas to rehab this furniture…acrylic-based, no VOCs, safe, non-toxic. After countless hours of work and painting, here is the end result:


Perfect for a beachy/cottage nursery! And look at those great lines along the bottom…who knew they even existed?!

I did the same for the nightstand and high dresser and loved the results for both:

IMG_5602 IMG_9532 IMG_5008

Next came a room-sized rug. I wanted a shag rug because I loved the texture, but most I saw were $150-$200. I found a 5 by 8 rug at Walmart on sale for just $68…and we love it! Photos of it are in the full-room shots at the end.

As for accessories, I re-purposed many things I already had, but added some great pieces to the wall that are special and fit the theme of the room. Here’s a taste:

IMG_3864 IMG_3859 IMG_3844 IMG_3843 IMG_3824 IMG_3820

The wave painting is by me, just adding a beachy touch to her room. I shabby-painted the turquoise anchor hanging. The announcement chalkboard was a $4 thrift store frame I painted. The Dr. Seuss was made for me by an Etsy artist. The capiz shell mobile was bought over Valentine’s Day weekend in Cape May by us for just $10 (off-season). The other signs are perfect little inexpensive touches I found. I already had sconces and owl decals on the walls that I love and kept up.

I think it’s time for the finished photos, of everything put together. There’s hardly a single piece in this room that I have not rehabbed, painted, touched, enhanced, etc. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

IMG_3842 IMG_3861 IMG_3846 IMG_3845IMG_3840IMG_3838

I hope you love it as much as we do. We can’t wait for it to become “home” for our daughter. I hope that as she grows up, she appreciates having things that Mom worked so hard on for her, and that some of it even travels with her someday if she chooses to have her own family…

This room makes me so happy. I walk in all the time and it still manages to feel surreal.

Now, for one of the best parts…the cost breakdown! I will tell you that EVERY single thing you see in those photos add up to an amount that is almost silly. This nursery was entirely created on a budget of LESS THAN $500!!!

Nursery costs:

Glenna Jean bedding/accessories (bumper, crib skirt, sheet, diaper stacker, quilt, changing pad cover…$40 secondhand (regular price $567)

Baby Cache crib…$80 secondhand (regular price $400)

Vintage spindle-style changing table, refinished…free! (regular cost $50)

Changing table accessories…$7 total. (regular cost $20)

Baby mattress: $10, regular price $70

Shag rug…$68 (usually cost about $120)

Old vintage family furniture set: Dresser, mirror, highboy, nightstand…FREE and restored/painted. (Craigslist cost $400)

Mercury glass knobs/hardware: $10 after selling un-needed older hardware (regular cost $60)

Wood storage chest (painted): $20 secondhand (regular cost $60-70)

Jenny-Lind style cradle: $10 secondhand ($100)

Refinished ombre 6-drawer chest…$7 at thrift store…$20 total after supplies/materials ($75)

Vintage sandstone owl bookends: $8 (regular $20)

Owl lamp with ruffle shade…free/gifted by mom (regular $25)

Glider and ottoman, thirdhand/used…$35 (new one costs $199)

Rose pillow for glider: $5 (regular $15)

Geometric turquoise pillow for glider…$3 (regular $10)

Long pillow for storage chest: $19, Anthropologie (regular $50)

Welcome sign for door…$6 (regular $10)

“Life’s A Beach” sign…$4 (regular $10)

“Paradise” sign…$12 (regular $25)

Custom-made Dr. Seuss plaque from Etsy…$16

Wood anchor…$4.50 (regular $8)

Waves painting…free/painted by mom!

Thrifted mirror turned announcement chalkboard: $4 (buying something similar would run about $30)

New curtains: $17 (regular price $30)

Salvaged/painted shutter for behind crib: $12 (regular cost about $25)

Curtain rod for shutter: $8 (regular price $15)

Thrifted curtains for shutter: $2.50 for the set (regular price $10)

“To the moon and back” picture: $3

Paint/supplies: $50-60

$474 total for entire nursery, all items in it.

Should have cost: $2500+ with secondhand dressers.

Should have cost $3200+ with brand new or professionally repainted dressers.

Saved $2000-$3000, easily.

So there you have it…my baby’s beautiful nursery for less than $500! All that’s left is for May 18th to get here ❤

* Snow Day Project: Footstool Makeover *


A TON has changed in my life since my last update and I am busier than I have ever been before…

The long and short of it: I am 7 months pregnant with my first child, a baby girl, due May 18th 🙂 If you count back from my last entry, it’s kind of self-explanatory.

My pregnancy has been rough, and naturally, I cannot use most products I used to when doing projects, nor have I had any energy to do them anyway. I’ve avoided traditional paint, dust, chemicals, fumes, all the toxic nonsense. But I had a nice snow day off from work today, and decided to tackle a tiny, fun little project. The shabby rocker from my last entry? This cute little footstool goes with it…it’s down in our den and ready for downstairs feedings and rocking the baby! We ended up getting a comfy secondhand glider/ottoman for the nursery.

Before I get down to it, I DO finally have a huge project in the works, and it’s slowly getting there…my 50-year-old family bedroom set is now my daughter’s nursery furniture and it is being rehabbed. All drawer tracks were repaired by my hubby, tracks are being greased, new hardware is being added, and the dark pine frames are being painted with a beachy look to go with the “shabby beach cottage” nursery. I kept the drawer fronts their original dark pine. It is a unique, high-contrast, almost odd look. I’ll take photos of the completed nursery soon. I knew this was what I wanted in a nursery, whether the baby was a boy or girl.

So back to the task at hand…here was my raw material for the footstool. The second photo was me deciding between two fabric choices. I opted for more color and saved the blue and cream etoile for another day/project.

IMG_3711 IMG_3712

The colors used for it were Shabby Paints’ “Alamo White”, and 3 custom-mixed accent colors…a beachy slate blue, an oatmeal beige, and a mint green…I did the base coat of the white and then highlighted with the others. After re-upholstering the top, here is the end-result (and hubby and I both love it).

IMG_3717 IMG_3720 IMG_3722 IMG_3723 IMG_3727

MUCH more fun! Not only will it work with the rocker (especially because her name is going on the top of the rocker in little-girl-themed letters when the time gets closer since the name is a secret), but it’ll make a great little seat for her before long. Here it is with the rocker before an accent pillow and name decal on the back:

IMG_3731 IMG_3734

Cost breakdown:

Footstool: Free 🙂 We sold off some items (like our game table set) from the second half of the den to make room for a playroom and space for the baby, and this was purchased with some of the money we got for it…it gave us a very nice Valentine’s Day out together at the Jersey Shore.

Fabric: $1’s worth of fabric purchased from a Walmart remnant. I still have half left for a small pillow or a seat-pad if I decide to make one. All tolled, this project would have cost about $8 if I were actually paying for it. Doesn’t get any better, does it?

Within a month, there will be an update showcasing the final product that is Babygirl’s fabulous nursery!

A Random Revamp


A while back, I found a vintage, mahogany Nichols & Stone rocking chair at my local thrift store for just $2.95. It was solid, sturdy, comfortable, and worth so much than I paid for it! Originally, I gave it a white, distressed chalk paint makeover with a rubbing of brown antiquing wax over top. I stenciled a design onto the top…it was pretty. But after a month or so, I kept getting the nagging sensation that the rocker, while beautiful, was not made over to its full potential. I wanted to try something a little more “out of the box” and unique, while still being something that wasn’t too “loud” (if that makes any sense).

Here is the rocker after its first makeover:

In remaking it…I first decided to leave the base alone. I wanted to try a cool distressing technique where you seal the current finish well, paint one thick coat of color over top of the old finish (in this case, I used “dynasty blue” by Shabby Paints), and then distress/sand just enough to get down to the old finish, but not to bare wood like is typically done. The result would be an awesome shade of blue distressed to show the white/cream finish underneath for a unique effect. It came out better than expected! I then decided to leave the seat the same color as the base, but to add some subtle tones of blue in it for interest. The top of the rocker also got the same finish as the base to pull it all together, and rather than paint or stencil a design onto the top permanently, I opted to use a cute, $1 decal I had that can easily be removed for another or some other type of design in the future. The butterflies sold me! I enjoy this revamp far better than the original makeover I gave it!

People often think I am nuts as an artist to constantly change things out or move something to make room for a new piece, but that’s my process and it’s fun for me!

The result is something I am thrilled with:




IMG_2666 IMG_2668


Less elegant? Definitely?

More colorful and interesting? I think so. Thoughts?

Favorite. Project. Piece. Ever.


I am SO EXCITED for this one, y’all!

I’ll begin by stating that I am known for doing things “big” and for my exuberance. Rather than tackle a single concept with this piece, I took on all 3 at once 🙂

1.) Zinc finish furniture. Restoration Hardware makes these insanely expensive but AMAZING zinc furniture pieces, and I want, like…ALL of them. Here’s a taste: imageimage



Yeah, dreamy! Also thousands. I’ve been wanting to recreate this look with paint for a while now. The kick in the pants came from a crafty/upcycle-queen buddy (Kelley Gauntt). She posted this amazing piece that she made. By the way, it is for sale and has a bigger twin, making it a set. They’re also SO reasonable, so let me know if you are interested, she does great work.image




2.) Next up on my list was the numbered drawers (shown in Kelley’s piece), that I saw long ago at Anthropologie and loved! It’s a cool look and lends sort of an industrial flair. Here are some great examples:





Fun, right?!


Okay, now…3.) Ombre drawers in a dresser. With the exception of hair (eww), I love ombre. I was rocking ombre dresses in high school long before it was trendy. Such a beautiful look. Here are some of my inspiration pieces for this look:





I love the shabby one in the final pic…I will be trying that soon for sure.


So with all my inspiration, THIS was my canvas. A tall, narrow chest made of knotty pine. Despite its homely appearance, all I could see was potential. I snagged it for just $7! As mentioned earlier, I combined all 3 of the techniques into this one…zinc paint, numbered drawers, ombre colors. Here’s the raw material:



I primed it a pale grey color and then used a textured deep metallic grey paint by Martha Stewart as coat 1. image

It gave the piece a great texture that is nice to touch, rough and industrial. Next, I used a sooth silver metallic paint, also by Martha Stewart. I used a cheesecloth to wipe it on and then off for a look that replicated zinc’s natural patina. Here’s the zinc paint job:


My bestie was over and helped me with the drawers by giving me her valued opinions on whether the shades were correct or need re-mixing. I began with white and led to a deeper blue in an ombre effect. I used paint I had on hand. I found aluminum numbers at Home Depot that I gave a zinc paint job to to number the drawers when done. I sealed the drawers when done, and after the numbers went on…she was complete. I’m obsessed. Here she is!





 image image image



Three elements combined to make one really unique, funky piece. 


Now, for the cost rundown:

Dresser: $7

Numbers: $9

Metallic paints: $7

Total: $23. Hows that for a creative steal?!

I adore this one. 


Til next time…


An Accidental Re-do


On Wednesday, we had an electrician come over to do some work for us upstairs. My newly-redone hall table was right outside the main bathroom. I always try to provide water, coffee, or beer to anyone working on the house. Hubby set the glass of ice water on the table. Despite layers of poly and wax, the water bubbled the top layer and it peeled RIGHT off the table.


-_- Do you know how long those paint jobs take? They’re not something you can patch up! I allowed myself my momentary freakout and went back to the drawing board. The best idea I had for the top was to decoupage it. Emily Dickinson is one of my favorite poets, so I put her poetry on the top, using lots of regular glue, reinforcing the seams, and 3-4 heavy coats of poly. I added the side stencils and then hand painted the undertones of white and gold, sealing it when done. No need to worry about this finish coming off!


Not a bad save, I (actually) like something I did 🙂

Cost: Free (doesn’t get better than that).



If you’re a lover of the unrivaled, devastating beauty of words (as I am), familiarize yourself with Emily Dickinson. No one will ever surpass Robert Frost for me, but she’s way up there. Some of my favorites:


I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity.

Nor had I time to love, but since
Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Behind Me — dips Eternity –

Before Me — Immortality –

Myself — the Term between –


And of course, my all-time favorite of hers:


If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

– Emily Dickinson

em Oh: I "met" my new classroom 2 days ago, and we like each other very much :-) I look at it as my next blank canvas. From now on, I want my room to reflect me and I have to put my stamp on it. I'm already dreaming of projects for it, some are already in the works. I'm feeling so much more inspired and happy lately. I love this photo only because it radiates that. Here I am in my new future "second home"! class Lastly, this is unrelated and I know "Throwback Thursday" is a Facebook thing... But I came across this photo of my 6th grade class trip. Seeing the Twin Towers is always eerie, moving, and incredibly sad. I remembered being so awed by their massive size. trip

French & Sensibility


(See what I did there, bibliophiles and Jane Austen fans?!)

For the record, I came up here to the office to blog, and was greeted with this:


After coaxing him off with treats, I’m ready to go 🙂

I’ve got TWO projects to blog today 🙂 I’ll start with showing you the raw materials and starting costs. I found an awesome, thick pine trestle bench/end table at a thrift store. It was $7 and I had to have it! It was rustic and yet reminded me vaguely of a church pew.

The second piece is a nightstand that I got for free from one of my upcycle friends. I threw my back out getting it to my car, as it apparently is the heaviest nightstand on earth. The drawers were very swollen from the humidity and it needed a little work, but my goodness…those lines and details! I knew it would really be something when completed.

Here are my two “before” items:


(ignore the mirror. That’s something I am making pretty and into a chalkboard for my classroom).

See? Great lines and tons of potential on both.

I was not feeling bright or loud colors for these two beauties. I did, however, know I wanted to play around with stencils. I decided on a driftwood/sand color for the trestle table and a deep metallic grey/brown for the nightstand.

First up, the trestle table!

I painted the whole piece in white shabby paint, and then roughed it up heavily. In order to get the color I wanted, I used a dark antiquing wax, which gave me that pretty shade I wanted. I found stencils I really liked that gave the piece a French vibe and stenciled the designs on in darker brown. Here’s the first coat to paint:


Here’s the “after” waxing and stenciling:



It was finished here, technically. After looking at it again the following day, I wanted to tweak it, because I thought it was too distressed and I found the pattern of sanding distracting. After redoing pieces of it and then using white revax (varnish and wax) on it, I finally got my desired result:





SO happy with it now. I love it. How people overlook things like this, I will NEVER comprehend!


Now for piece #2, the freebie nightstand:

After a few days inside my house in the AC and some sanding along the drawer edges, the drawers worked again. It had no pulls, so I needed to tackle that too.

I decided that in order to achieve the color I was going for, I’d need a deep brown base in a flat color and a white top glaze.

For white glaze, I recently tried a product called white revax and it’s AMAZING! Seriously, it seals, protects, and glazes all at once. A little goes a long way and it’s something to keep on hand for any future projects. It’s also non-toxic, VOC free, and made in the USA (does it get any better than that?) You can read about it and buy it here:

For my base color, I went to Home Depot and chose a color from Behr’s Marquee line called “Well-Bred Brown”:



Let me tell you, this paint is un-freaking-believable. It goes on like butter! I definitely recommend this line, notable for its stain and dirt resistance. Here is the nightstand after its base coat:


Looks just like melted Hershey’s milk chocolate bars. Exactly the shade I was going for!

After this stage, I played around with the stencils and got this result:


I love the corner flourishes, and had to put a tiny fleur-de-lis on there on the front. The design at the bottom I painted by hand to bring it out. I accented the stenciled parts with a small hint of metallic gold acrylic paint.

I actually nixed drawer pulls in favor of knobs, despite the fact that pulls likely “go” better for the piece. I found just what I wanted at Anthropologie…gold, vintage-looking mercury glass knobs on clearance for $2.95 each. Perfect!


After sealing the brown paint with water-based poly, it was time to glaze it 🙂 After using the revax and adding my knobs, the job was done. Prepare for the photo blitz and cue “Isn’t She Lovely”:







SO HAPPY WITH IT! The brown with the white revax gave me just the color I wanted.  slightly metallic grey-meets-brown. Love, love, love. Times a million.


Now for costs!

Project #1:

Trestle table: $7

Stencils: $2.40

Paints/sanding block/materials: Already on hand.

Total cost: $9.40


Project #2:

Nightstand: Free (thanks, Kelley!)

Sample can of Behr Marquee “Well-Bred Brown”: $3.94

Stencils: $2.40

Knobs: $2.95 each x 6 for a total of $17.70

Other poly/materials/brushes/revax: Already on hand.

Total: $24.04


How’s THAT for bargains?! I love them both and am so digging the French-inspired style lately. My ottoman makeover (previously blogged) bit me with the Parisian bug. So, see? All you need is some vision, and everything old becomes new again!


Til next time…


Salvage Server (in with the old)


By now, anyone who knows me at all knows that my tiger oak “problem” is legendary. It’s one of my favorite things on earth. Painting it should be illegal and punishable by water torture. I’m not all that sure that I’m kidding when I say that…




I noticed that someone on my “upcycle/DIY” FB group listed a tiger oak dining table (round) that opens for a leaf. It was huge, something like ’56 round! Furthermore, it damn near weighed a ton (seriously). It was way too large to be used in its current state, and I would never part with my Carrara marble kitchen table. It was too beautiful to pass up for $20. I knew I had to find a way to re-purpose it before Jeff got home from work and threatened serving me with divorce papers (again)!

After walking my house and brainstorming with my best friend, I remembered that I’ve always wanted a server/buffet in the dining room, but I don’t have one. A server too big and chunky would take up too much room, as I already have a mahogany Queen Anne set that includes a table with 2 leaves, 6 chairs, a curio, a hutch, and an antique side table.

How to turn this massive table into a server? Cut it in half at the bias, where it breaks apart for the leaf! The edge would sit along the wall under the partition, coming out in a demilune/half-moon shape.

Then came the issue of what the heck could serve as the base. Hubby and I then recalled that in the very back of our storage room was the mahogany, Queen-Anne end table that we used as a coffee table and ate off at for 4.5 years at the apartment. Not only would it match the dining room set, but it also has sentimental value. The fact that the top was all sorts of beat up didn’t matter, since we’d be securing the top to it anyway.

The issue was that the server would sit too low. A trip out to the shed turned up old pieces of pressure-treated 2 x 4. When we stacked them (piecemeal style), the height became perfect. After that came a lot of pre-drilling, broken drillbits, loud noises, very long screws, and the task of securing them to the base. The remaining movement and slight rattling was fixed with shims.

I refused to risk long screws going up into the tiger oak top, because I was unwilling to risk a screw coming through the table top. When something is 100 years old with a perfect patina, it’s never as easy as wood putty, filler, and new stain. Instead, we used liberal amounts of contact adhesive. We put the top into place on the base and weighed it down heavily overnight. It’s now nice and secure!

I love the character of old pieces and wanted to make the server look its best without messing with that. I applied a small bit of stain to chips along the edges, and then made a homemade polish with white vinegar and olive oil, massaging it into the wood. This is literally all that was needed. Here is the end-result. If you like it, we have an extra base and the other half of the table if you’d like to make one. I’ll unload the supplies cheap, just let me know!Image






Here are some photos of the dining room, so you can see the lay of the land:





I LOVE this project. It was fast and easy with two people and it was a fun way to re-purpose an antique. I love it, and it will get plenty of us during dinners and parties. Not bad for $20!

Roadside Rescue Makeover: ANOTHER Chair!


En route home the other night, my husband noticed (mere nanoseconds before I did) 2 chairs and a dining table at the curb by our neighborhood. I can spot quality a mile away, and what caught my eye first was a beautiful table base, country-looking and trestle-style. I typically get eye-rolls, loud sighs, and joking divorce threats when bringing salvaged furniture into my life/home, so I was shocked when he willingly turned the car around to look! There was a BEAUTIFUL, thick, high-quality dark pine dining table with two chairs. The chairs were lovely, with a finely-detailed Windsor design that was rustic and yet elegant. I needed one (naturally).


Whoever went home with the dining table is a lucky person indeed!


Shocker #2 was when my husband said “I think we can fit both in the car”. I had to make sure I heard him right! Being practical, I said we should take the better of the two chairs. So we went home with this beauty:Image


Oh, the potential! I do not like to refinish dark pine, and prefer painting it (not my usual). Looking at the details, I decided on a shabby paint job, but was torn between an oatmeal shade with antiquing wax like this $3 thrift store table makeover (I did this last week):


OR this robin’s egg blue shade that I used to make over my $0.50 salt and pepper mills:Image


The blue idea won out, mainly because it’s the final chair I could get away with squeezing into the hodgepodge/ quirky eat-in area! It’s softer than the screaming turquoise I used on the other chairs and I’ve been all about blue lately! That, and I had plenty of the paint left over, so I did not need to buy any supplies!

Here she is after being painted with the blue chalk paint:



See? Pretty even without being shabbied up!


After I took a sanding block to her, this was the result:




I had no clear furniture wax left, so in an effort to keep this project completely free, I used some semi-gloss water-based poly I had left over from the floors. I used this to seal it, since it would be expecting frequent use.


This was a TOTALLY free project! Free chair, leftover paint and poly, leftover paint brushes and sandpaper. It doesn’t get better than that!

Here it is in its “home”:


“From that thrift shop down the road!”


I’ve had a very creative evening! I’ve been feeling extra inspired lately, and two oh-so-fabulous finds this week at my local thrift store were my muses 🙂

Item #1…a 24-inch wood stool for $1.95? YES! I am just under 5 feet in height, so this is perfect for me.Image


No artsy chalk paint job for this one! I decided to celebrate the start of (unofficial) summer by going with a hand-painted, summery, and colorful design. I chalk-painted the legs a Tiffany blue, but am considering doing an ombre blue design down the legs to add some color variance…we shall see. Here’s the end result:



I’ve always thought of myself as having absolutely no artistic ability, but I may need to rethink that one.

My second thrift store find was an AWESOME end table with a beautiful marble insert. It’s by Mersman Furniture, mid-century or so, and was screaming out to me for a makeover! Best of all…I got it for just under $3. I mean, honestly…how do you say no?! Here she is:



Look at those details!!

I decided on chalk paint, layered in oatmeal and white, and then a dark brown antiquing wax/glaze. I wanted the end result to resemble old wood or driftwood, but go nicely with the marble. Here’s the midway point, with the layered paint job (I had no white chalk paint left, so some white acrylic paint did the trick) and before the distressing:Image


Fun, but incomplete. I wanted the details to jump out and the color to darken. I took a sanding block to the piece to distress all the edges and details, and then (for the first time), I gave antiquing wax a try. The color I had was dark brown, and this is the brand I use (I also love their chalk paints, and you can get them for about $4 each after a coupon at Joann Fabric):Image


After taking a sanding block to the painted table for heavy distressing, I used a lint-free cloth to give the entire table a thorough wax coating, rubdown, and buffing. I was hooked and obsessed with this product from the first swipe…seriously, it’s great! I will use it on some other pieces.

Here are photos of the lovely end result of the table, some with flash for details, some in natural light.


I’m happy with my decision to let this table rock the shabby look. The color pairs nicely with the beige marble insert and is neutral. It will serve as an end table next to the chaise on my sectional. The marble means no coasters are needed! For my best friend, the sectional is the equivalent of “Sheldon’s Spot”, so she will probably get the most use out of it!

I paid just under $3 for the table, and used supplies I already had on hand to redo it.

::shakes head:: $3. Disbelief.

Here are my other fun finds from that trip (where I spent a whopping $8):

Fun, cute vintage enamel colander for $1Image


And a great tabletop ironing board (that matches our kitchen) for just $2…we really needed one, as our other one that we’ve had forever broke and bent in half:



Everything you see in this post cost me $8. Un-freaking-real. Thrifting/upcycling are a way of life for me. It’s recycling at its finest 😉


Until next time…