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Before and After

I’ve been hating the chair I’ve been using for my bedroom vanity.  It’s too wide, it’s always in the way and it’s too tall. It’s a good chair in the wrong place.

The search was under way for a vintage stool.  I had a really fabulous one but Thing 2 desired it for her room and it fit her bedroom décor perfectly.  Besides, I needed something with a smaller footprint that could almost disappear in my tiny bedroom.  It also needed to be a lower so I can see into my make up mirror.  I felt like I’m hunching over my mirror – something I’m not used to since I top out at 5 foot.

Last Saturday, on my way to get the Prius a badly needed wash I spied an estate sale.  I love a good estate sale.  Especially if it’s a TRUE estate sale – not a “we think our crap is nicer so we’re calling it an estate sale.”  I love to walk in and feel like I’ve stepped into the past.  The furniture, the carpet, the appliances,  Grandma never updated.  These are the types that yield treasures.

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Vintage Vanity Stool

It looked like slim pickings as I walked in.  I chose the path of least resistance – choosing the less crowded back bedroom.  There it was – sitting by itself and ignored by everyone else.  Who would want this drab little stool with its tacky brass and brown combo?  Me!  Me!  Oh, I’ve been waiting for you!

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Drab Brown Stool Seat

The vinyl brown cover was carefully removed and a pattern was made.

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Pattern from the Stool Base

The frame was sanded down and gilded with pretty silver finish.

A small piece of faux white ostrich leather fabric from my stash had been saved just for something like this.

It was sewn into shape and a new button was fashioned with pink fabric just to lighten things up a bit!

It’s sooooooooooo much better now!  The stool takes up less room.  It’s the right height and it feels oh so glamorous!

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Vintage Vanity

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Wine Box Ribbon Dispenser

Somewhere in early history of Martha Stewart I saw Ribbon Management ideas.  Martha demonstrated how to turn an ordinary shoe box into a ribbon holder, the tips of the ribbon perkily poking out from grommets or slits on the side of the box and the ribbon reels neatly contained inside, hidden from sight.  Martha later went on to sell this product through her sorely missed Martha Stewart Living Catalog but happily now sells new versions at Michaels.

Browse through any home/living magazine or surf the internet and you’ll find lots of other ideas to contain the unruly, tangly mess of ribbon.  One popular idea (another Good Thing by Martha) has been to store ribbon on a dowel, mounted in a closet or the back of a cabinet wall.  This was the method I adopted, installing a long dowel in front of a shelf in a large closet.

But if you’re a true crafter, you’ll know that this isn’t the best solution.  Spools of ribbon defy Newton’s first law of motion which states “An object at rest stays at rest”.  Anyone who has ever stored ribbon this way knows that ribbon has a mind of its own and that the 2nd part of Newton’s law “an object in motion stays in motion” takes over.  That damn ribbon will start spinning itself off the reel.  Then you have the fun and time consuming job of winding it back up and figuring out some way to secure it.  I’ve also seen chicken feeders or rain gutters used to store the ribbon but those storage method depend on the box always being stored vertically.

Tired of fighting the ongoing ribbon rebellion, it was time to upgrade to the newest method of ribbon management.  Basically – a simple box with a dowel across the front to prevent the ribbons from rolling out.

You can easily build a simple wooden box but thanks to Dr. Malibu and his passion for Pinot I already had something fabulous that I could use.   Very awesome wine comes in wine boxes – the better the wine, the better the box.  Dr. Malibu gave me a particularly nice wine box and it had just been sitting around as a junk box for various craft items.   It never really worked well for that application and I always felt it had a higher calling.  Transforming the wine box into a ribbon holder seemed the perfect solution.  And it easily only took 10 minutes to do.

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Wine Cork Christmas Tree with Beaded Twisted Wire Garland Tutorial

Christmas is a big holiday for my friends over at the Barker Ranch.  Every holiday is celebrated and the house is decorated from floor to ceiling – especially Christmas.   (Or Christmas Hell depending on who you’re talking too)  Every nook and cranny is stuffed with festive décor and it’s a wonder to behold.   I’m not exactly sure how it happens – it’s seems almost magical, even though I’ve been at the start of “Christmas Hell” .

Another well known fact about the Barker Ranch is that they’ve collected quite a few wine corks over the holidays.  Yes, the Barker Ranch heartily supports the California Wine Industry.  It was inevitable that the Wine Cork Christmas Tree was made.

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Wine Cork Tree Tutorial:

You will need:

  • You need cardboard paper cone form – easily found at your local craft store.  Don’t buy the foam kind – foam and hot glue are natural enemies.
  • Glue Gun
  • 15 – 20 hot glue sticks (depending on your glue gun and your glue gun skills)
  • Friends who drink wine… a lot of wine… (Caution: this project requires approximately 90 – 100 corks I do not recommend drinking all the wine in one sitting.)
  • Fine gauge wire (approx. 15 – 20 feet)
  • Decorative Beads that fit the width of the wire.


Start at the bottom of your cone form, gluing each cork and pressing it to the form.  The trick is to butt one cork right up against the other – you don’t want to see any gaps.

When you get to the end of the row – you might find yourself with a gap.  Skip it for now (we’ll come back, I promise) and start the next row – over lapping where two corks meet below.  (If you’re anxious over the missing cork portion – I recommend you open another bottle of wine)

Rinse and Repeat, continuing to the top.

When you’re ready to fill in the gaps – take a cork and eyeball where you will need to cut it.  It needs to fit the size of the gap.  Corks are really easy to cut with a sharp knife.  Place the cork on a cutting board and position your knife.  Press the knife and roll the cork, (with your knife) cutting as you go.  This will make an even cut.  Now you can go back and and glue the smaller pieces to fill in the gaps.  I use the blank corks (with out writing) to fill in the gaps.

At the top of the wine tree, you have a choice.  You can either glue wine corks all the way to the top, but if you also drink Champagne, you can easily drill out the bottom of a Champagne cork to fit over the last bit of cone.

Make the Beaded Twisted Wire Garland.

Even a wine cork tree needs a little holiday bling. (Especially if it graces the Barker Ranch).  I saw a lovely beaded garland at my girlfriends charming shop – Mulberry Row – during her holiday open house.  It was so gorgeous I had to buy it.  It seemed perfect for the wine cork tree I made for the Barker Ranch.  But after being commissioned to make 3 more wine cork tree’s, I realized I had to make my own beaded garland.

Luckily, it’s a snap to make!

Measure a length of the wire by loosely wrapping it around and around your wine cork tree.  Bend the wire to mark your spot. Double the length and cut your wire.

Thread all your beads onto the wire.  Move one bead to the middle position.

Twist the wire around the bottom of the bead to secure it.

Move another bead about an 1 inch or 1 1/2 inches from the first bead.  Twist in the opposite direction that you twisted the first bead.  If you twist in the same direction, the first bead will untwist.  I found it easier to grip the bead and twist it around the wire.

Repeat until you have the wire completed beaded.

I left a long tail which I used to attach to the top of the cone form.  Then I hot glued the corks over it, to secure the wire in place.  After wrapping the beaded garland around the cork tree, I secured the other end by using a staple, pushing it into one of the corks on the end.

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Mermaid Costume

Every year I make Thing 2’s Halloween costume… except the one year she wanted to buy a princess costume but when someone else showed up in the same outfit, we went back to making our own. She has been a dead cheerleader, a rock n roller, a pirate and a zombie girl. This year… she wanted to be a mermaid… (technically it’s her fourth time as a mermaid) The first mermaid costume was worn until it was literally in shreds. So since we’ve done this a few times, I printed off some images of mermaid costumes to use as inspiration to see what direction she wanted to go.  Now someone else has already done a bang up job explaining how they did it (Ms. Mod Mischief) so the full credit and instructions are here. I did mine differently but you use what you got and that’s what I did.  The concept and basic construction is the same.
Here’s Things 2 costume – which was completed down to the wire.  She was involved in making all the various parts and it turned out (if I don’t say so myself) pretty darn good. I think she’s the cutest mermaid caught by a Pirate/Fisherman I ever did see!
We attended the PALLOWEEN Halloween event at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. Dr. Malibu said it was evident she was going to win.  Thing 2 was stopped every few steps by people gushing over her costume.  And she did win– 1st prize for her age division, but she won my heart a long time ago!
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