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'Fast, Cheap & Easy': Spellbound Photos

 alright, witches....
here's a 'Fast, Cheap & Easy' TM Halloween decorating tip if ever there was one:

1. grab a bunch of family photos. the more women in them, the better ;0)
doesn't matter where they are or what they are doing.
2. scan them, or take them to the local printer and run copies, in black and white.
3. use a black Sharpie marker and draw WITCH HATS and SHOES onto the women in the photos!
4. frame them in cheap dollar store frames painted black, and hang anywhere.
see how EASY this is?!
you can turn any gathering of girls into a witches' convention!
the photos can be of women at the beach, on a roller coaster, in the pool, on the runway... 
in any era, any decade, any style.
just add hats and funny shoes!
and maybe a cobweb overlay as a skirt or shawl. 
[ black cats, cauldrons, brooms and magic wands optional ]

one important note:
you might not want to use photos of your mother in law for this!
you can also use smaller photos, draw the hats on them, 
then place them into clear glass jars and bottles.
i added printed captions to mine - just funny lines that sort of describe the action in the photos -
and embellished the bottles with black ribbon and silver chains & charms.
 the image on the large bottle here is from an old book page -
i added the black hat and then glued the whole image onto the outside of the bottle.
[ a similar photo of these bottles appeared in PORCH magazine back in 2009 ]

I've got another easy and FUN idea for using a witch hat...
check out this post, too!


Inspired by Charm likes Sweet Sweater Pumpkins!

 in the last few weeks of september, i was on a pumpkin-making mission
(i called it pumpkingeddon!) to prepare products for a huge corporate order.

but it was very 'hush-hush' and i couldn't share what it was for.
so i cut and stuffed and tied and tagged a few hundred pumpkins
and bagged them up in sets of three, one from each color palette (Light, Bright, and Neutral)
it was a special package created just for this company...
loaded them into boxes
and then shipped them off to chicago on a wing and a prayer.

from the corporate office, they would be re-boxed individually 
and sent off to customers who had ordered a 'grab bag' sort of offering.
yes, sight unseen!

i was finally given permission to share the news today:
my Original Sweet Sweater Pumpkins are featured
in Michael J. Wurm's 'Inspired by Charm' October offering for 

Michael and i 'met' when we were both contributing writers for FOLK Magazine
[not in person, just in lots of word-y posts, comments, and emails]
and he has been very generous in sharing word of HOMEWARDfound with his fans.
[the man has over TWO MILLION Twitter and Pinterest followers!]
he's a 'style spotter' for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine,
 a contributor to home decor and design websites and resources, 
one of his bffs is Kim Myles (yes, the DesignStar winner!),
so he's truly a design STAR himself...
and I am so honored that he chose my product for his Lost Crate offering

Thank you, Michael at Inspired by Charm!
Thank you to Jack at Lost Crates!


make a crystal ball from a glass lamp globe!

i'd like to share another of the original projects i created a few years ago: 
A Crystal Ball Lamp

it's made with a clear glass lamp globe (yep, i find lots of things to do with those!)
a 'hurricane' electric lamp with a clear glass base, and some black beaded trim.

i printed the Glam Witch image (without the hat) onto clear acetate, 
then cut out the silhouette to adhere to the lamp itself
 so that it would appear to float inside the globe.
[the globe sits on the part of the lamp where the glass hurricane shade used to sit]
a pleated vintage ribbon and bit of black beaded trim add a nice finishing touch.

i also made some crystal balls that weren't on lamps - 
simply mounting them to a base of crystal, black or white ceramic urn gives them presence
[the image appears to 'float', but is attached to a small  lid sitting low inside the urn]
Crystal ball lamp on left . crystal ball in rear right

like those swanky pumpkins?
i made them from fabric, using the same method i use for my sweet sweater pumpkins
my tutorial is available here


a friend who saw the graphic in my last post ('Witches are just Princesses with PMS')
said that at some point in life, that excuse would run out.... so I added more to it! ENJOY!


Halloween Inspiration: Mad Science

 Welcome to October at HOMEWARDfound!
Let the Halloween Decor Inspiration commence...

I was recently at an local store's event taking photos for a magazine story (more about that in a bit),
and was delighted when I saw the ghoulish Halloween display shown above.
I knew as soon as I saw it that this would be my October 1st blog post,
 because there are so many creative ideas shown here that we can learn from...

This mantel has some terrific cost-effective ideas:

*the taxidermy bat
 it's a primitive DOLL hung on a board! and it looks for all the world like taxidermy because it's ratty, old, dirty, and beat up. ok, so bats aren't MY thing.... maybe they aren't yours, either. but take an old deer or moose mount, spray paint it matte black, then rub some dirt into it, scuff up the nose and antlers, and you have a creepy old animal thing to hang over your mantel. stretch some cobwebs between the antlers, put a few spiders in there.... positively ghoulish.

[i am NOT advocating killing animals. do you know how many dirty old head mounts there are at garage sales, thrift shops, and antique malls? someone else killed them, let's just make use of them.]

*the draping.
simple cheesecloth dyed black - you can buy it at fabric and costume & party supply stores.
it's lightweight, so it can go just about anywhere without a lot of support needed. you can stretch this stuff out, rip it to shreds, and it just looks even better. i'd have taken a length of it and created a ratty scarf for the mannequin, and tucked a bat into it like a brooch!  

*the specimen jars
these are simple big old glass canisters and pickle jars  - stuff you can find at every garage sale, thrift shop, even at Ross and Marshalls stores. gather up a few (and old & dirty is PERFECT for this!), then start working on the contents...

inside the jars, you can have any kind of scary, grotesque specimens you want. the dollar store and Walmart are a great place to grab plastic and rubber spiders, snakes, cockroaches, eyeballs, fingers, skulls, sponges that look like brains....

[ok, I love a good movie reference. and that just made me think of  a scene from 'Young Frankenstein', where Igor tells Doctor Frankenstein which brain he grabbed from the lab: 

"Abby somebody".
"You brought me an ABNORMAL BRAIN???".

so i'd put a sponge brain in a jar with pink tinted water, and a label that said 'Abby Somebody'. that would make me laugh every time i looked at it!

the jars could be filled with cheap plastic bones from the dollar store - femurs, hands, feet - but they don't LOOK cheap because of what you do with them: simply paint them flat white, then use a dry brush technique to smear some flat black paint into the crevices, making the details stand out. take them outside and roll them in the dirt, too, just to make them look like they came out of the ground - then pop them into the jars and close the lid.

a humorous tag will make people smile, too.  
do ya' see what i did there?

over on a cabinet next to the mantel, more specimen jars gather...

*old medical books
used as a base for more specimen jars, this just adds another layer of creepiness to the decor. the whole book doesn't even have to BE a medical journal - just the two pages you have it opened to. buy ONE ratty old medical book or magazine at an antique store, then tear the pages out and glue them into regular dictionaries. (THOSE are pennies on the dollar at thrift shops).

you can also add lettering to the cover and spine of old books, turning a plain old dictionary into a CREEPOLOGIST MANUAL or an EMBALMING GUIDE... just use a black sharpie marker and write right on the cover!

the photos you see above were all taken by me at
Down Home American Country Antiques, located in Orange, California 
it is owned by Peggy and Don Arentz, and Peggy is the mad scientist who thought up this display!


tricks for your treats!

it seems like caramel apples are everywhere this fall...
several magazines have them on their covers (FOLK, Martha)
and a few more have images inside (Country Living, Matthew Mead, BH&G)

well, i'm joining the party ;0) 
i JUST found these images in my files, and thought i'd pop them up here for you
because there are a few SUPER EASY IDEAS shown in them:

1. sit your caramel apples on a bed of raw sugar - and sprinkle a bit on top, too. 
it doesn't melt into the caramel, but it will stick to both the top
and the dripping gooey stuff that ALWAYS seems to slide off the bottom onto the plate.
the caramel apples shown here are lady apples - very small, and very easy to eat!
2. display your caramel apples or cupcakes on a plate, then sit the plate on top of a glear glass vase that has been filled with with fun decor - like these sparkly foam pumpkins [at Dollar Tree, a buck each] or real orange mini-pumpkins, or a few bags of candy corn. you can use several vases of different heights on your serving table for great results AND these are much more stable than a cake stand. 

[Here's a decor tip: you can re-use candy for decorative purposes. you just have to store it in an airtight container between uses. one of my residential decor clients had two HUGE glass vases that she filled up with candy corn every fall - we're talking about five GALLONS of candy corn in them! when i came in to decorate for the Holidays, she'd have me dump that candy into the sealed plastic containers where it was stored all year. it wasn't EDIBLE, but it was re-usable - and that saved her about fifty bucks each year!]

3. serve popcorn or trail mix from a large glass vase - and use regular coffee cups to scoop & serve! you could easily tuck a colorful paper napkin into the cup handle, too. this also works well for serving soups - use a ladle to serve instead, but the cups are a perfect portion size AND easy to hold.

looking at these images of caramel apples and popcorn makes me think of caramel popcorn balls - one of my favorite childhood treats. my mom also made popcorn balls with corn syrup, sugar, and KoolAid powdered drink mix for flavor & coloring. i had four kids, and making popcorn balls just took too long because i was always having to chase around after someone..... so i would CHEAT! i gave them a sweet, fun popcorn treat that was just as good as popcorn balls without all the work.

my 'trick and cheat' popcorn treat:

pop the corn, then pour it into a paper grocery bag
drizzle it with a LITTLE bit of melted butter
mix together a little bit of salt, KoolAid/CrystalLite powdered drink mix & sugar in a mixing cup
sprinkle the mix over the popcorn in the bag
shake in the paper bag to coat the popcorn with the sugar/KoolAid mixture
dump into a huge bowl [or glass vase, as shown above!]
serve to ravenously hungry kids... and adults ;0)  


Art Class #101: The Art of Arranging

 This country-style cabinet in an entryway serves as a perfect place for seasonal decor -
it's the first thing you see on entering this home, 
and it welcomes residents and guests alike every day.
By simply replacing small items on the three shelves, 
a fresh new look is achieved every three months or so.

Ok, admittedly, for ME, this is a simple undertaking.
But I am getting questions from readers asking me things like 
'How do you know WHERE to put things? How do you ARRANGE them?'

well, I am so very glad you asked!
Time for another 'Art Class #101': let's talk about the Art of Arranging

speaking of 'arranging'....
I first heard the term 'L'arte d' arrangiarsi' when I read the book 'Eat Pray Love' a few years back.
 it's Italian. and it means 'the Art of Making Do'
or literally, 'the art of arranging nothing into something'.
sounds a lot like what i try to share here, huh?!
let's take what we have, and learn a new way to 'make do'...
 let's look a bit closer at the shelves in the top photo 
and find some artful components...
the theme is simply autumn, and the subtext of that is nature.
look closely for repetition - in color, shape, texture, imagery, subjects, and number.
 and of course, you'll see balance, scale, and composition.
all of these work together to form a 'still life' vignette in home decor and store displays.

here's how it all works together:
on the top shelf, left side:
* a small print is leaning against the back of the cabinet - this helps bring a brighter color to the dark background, and also reflects the theme of nature. the sunflowers on the table in the print speak of fall.

* three small ceramic bowls in the 'Jewel Tea Autumn Leaf' pattern are lined up in front of the print - using items in odd numbers (quantities of 3 and 5 are most common) are pleasing to the eye. several small orange pumpkins and a grouping of leaves & nuts fill them for the effect of 'abundance' during the harvest season. also, the bowls are small and do not block the view of the print behind them.

[the items in these bowls are cheesy plastic stuff from the dollar store. it doesn't matter - you can't really SEE them, they just add a bit of color and keep the bowls from being empty.]
 on the top shelf, right side:
* you can just see the small print on the left in this photo. at the edge of it, a wood birdhouse has been placed, with a branch of leaves behind it - this hides the right edge of the painting so that it does not appear to 'float' on the shelf. the 'hidden edge' is integrated into the arrangement as it leads off to the right side. the birdhouse speaks again to the 'nature' theme of the display.

* three small Sweet Sweater Pumpkins are placed in a tight group, along with a few more leaves. their rounded shapes echo the bowls, and the odd number of 3 objects is repeated. however, symmetry isn't the goal: if you lined the pumpkins up like the bowls are, this arrangement would be unbalanced to the eye.

* we've created two arrangements on this small shelf, and linked them with the print and birdhouse.
on the middle shelf, centered:
* first, note that this shelf is arranged with a centered placement - different than the shelf up above, which had two arrangements on either side linked by the print in the center. vary placement for interest!

* two sets of four are used here, but due to their placement, they read as two sets of three to the eye - the three ceramic pumpkins on the left and the three stacked leatherbound Bibles are what you see first.

* the ceramic pumpkin plate sits behind the other ceramic pumpkins - displaying objects on different levels and depths adds a sense of movement to your displays, and keeps them from looking like a police lineup.

does anyone out there remember Christopher Lowell? he was always talking about 'lifts, levels, and elevations!' - he was right! stack things up, stand things up, lean them... use all of the 3-dimensional space you have, instead of just sitting things level with one another.

* then your eye travels to the right, where you see the standing wood Bible box and the small pumpkin in front of it - their similar color makes them a secondary focal point on this shelf.
 on the lower shelf, right side:

* you see a repeat of the top shelf's Jewel Tea Autumn Leaf pattern ceramic bowl, just in a larger size, and the orange ceramic pumpkin from the middle shelf, and the trio of Sweet Sweater Pumpkins from the top shelf - this repetition of form and pattern ties all of the displays together.

a vine wreath stands at the back, adding color and brightness to the dark background and height to the composition.

* fall leaves have been tucked into the wreath, the bowl, and under a pumpkin in front - these 'soften' the hard edges of the planter and bowl, and also offer a change from all of the 'round' shapes used here.

* the rusty copper metal planter is a color that appears in the ceramic pumpkin, so we are keeping things in the same tonal family. silver metal wouldn't work here. and gold might be too garish. [speaking of which, the lamp bothers me. the gold IS too garish, the green shade is too vivid, and the light is too bright. however, it's what was available for the space at the time. if we can find another small lamp, we'll replace the green one]

* did you notice that the wreath, copper planter, and bowl make a trio? this is another repetition of three, along with the 3 sweater pumpkins used. also: the three sweater pumpkins and ceramic bowl are NOT placed directly below the ones used on the top shelf. these are placed on the opposite side of the composition - repetition and balance, but not symmetry.

just one last thing to point out:

* the warm wood surface of the shelves and the green stained trim on this cabinet really worked well with the colors used in this season's display. like a frame on a painting, the furniture can set off a composition OR it can compete with it. try moving your furnishings around seasonally.... for instance, in summer and spring, a pale pine cabinet would work very well here to display lighter-toned accessories for those seasons.

OK, now go empty your shelves and start rearranging!!!


simple solutions: easy fall table decor

[photo credited to Chez Fifi http://fabulousfifi.typepad.com/chez_fifi/page/20/
Here's what she said about this and other photos: "I took the photos below at a wonderful press event held this past weekend at Moss Mountain Farm, outside Little Rock, Arkansas, the home of P. Allen Smith (www.pallensmith.com) the fabulous host of the PBS series: P. Allen Smith Gardens."]

if i could choose anywhere to host a fall dinner party or a thanksgiving dinner,
it would be in a setting like THIS one shown above! 
what a delightful way to create a memorable autumn event. 
this is a wall built with straw bales that fronts a party tent. brilliant.
can't you just picture this at dusk, with candles glowing and soft music playing?

oh, sorry... that's not a 'Simple Solution' at ALL, is it?! enough dream sequences...
let's get back to the real world of trying to fit decorating into our already busy schedules!

one thanksgiving arrived and i had been so busy at work that i forgot about the table decor.
that sounds completely AWFUL, doesn't it??? well, life happens sometimes... we've all been there.

after a mad dash through the house ensued,
with me grabbing anything and everything that looked remotely like it would work....
amazingly, it DID work!
 no one ever knew that i threw the decor together in minutes...
here's how it worked:
*used a fabric scarf - very large, almost sari-like -as the tablecloth.
it allowed the golden wood of the table to show, and created a garden lattice effect.
to continue that unexpected 'fall garden' theme, 
*filled some white ironstone bowls and platters with 'natural' elements i had on hand:
a faux acorn vine, creamy white resin and my sweet sweater pumpkins,
bleached leaves, and dried hydrangeas right from the yard.

*white pillar candles placed in tall glass vases added lots of sparkle
AND kept the flame away from little fingers

*place markers are Scrabble tiles arranged on each salad plate 
to spell out the name of the guest who would be sitting there.
the little plate above was for my sweet almost two year old grandson.
no, he didn't eat from it ;0)

after getting rave reviews on the decor, a little light bulb went on:
stop fussing over the table, Deb! keep it simple and make your day a whole lot easier...

the next year, here's what i did on the table for thanksgiving:
*folded a white linen tablecloth and used it as a runner.
*filled some glass italian yogurt jars with water and CHEAP white carnations
*scattered some bleached leaves and votive cups with tealights in them down the runner.
*set placesettings with my white dinnerware, linen napkins, glassware, and silver.

it only took me about FIFTEEN MINUTES to do this whole thing!
the flowers still smelled good, the candles still glowed and flickered warmly...
it still said 'fall' and 'thanksgiving' and 'family'...
it just WHISPERED it instead of shouting.

(and instead of last-minute fretting, fussing and foofing of the table,.
i was sitting in a chair with a glass of wine, visiting with my daughters and grandsons.
now THAT is something to be thankful for!)


Inspiration: Down Home Displays

 this past week i was at DOWN HOME American Country Antiques in Orange, California
shooting a story for FOLK Magazine's Holiday issue (November 2012)

there were SO many inspiring autumn display and decor ideas in the store
i found myself spinning around in circles to take it all in and photograph it!
i just had to share a few of my photos with you
(just the ones that won't be included in the magazine story)

the creative owners and dealers at this shop REALLY go above and beyond 
with their vignettes, themes, details, and presentation  - 
and the great part is you can find totally usable ideas that are easy to replicate in your home!

case in point, that wall o' crates shown in the photo up above. 
really, how much more simple can you get?
the interest is in the fact that the crates are all different sizes, filled with simple yet beautiful items.
wood crates, wire crates, wooden dresser drawers... use anything!

and then there's that metal SINK. be still my heart.
what a great idea - hang up an old metal washbasin or sink on the wall 
as a place to display seasonal decor.
it's an idea that would work perfectly on a big front porch, too...
 a picturesque gathering of gourds and pumpkins, bittersweet vines and leaves
fills an old metal wagon on top of a huge wood harvest table.
amazingly detailed and painted canvas pumpkins, made by hand - 
and i LOVE the old metal bread rack display fixture!
vintage Halloween collectables are one of the hottest items around, 
and this store has more of them in one place that i have ever seen.
look at this charming party scene using vintage items...
 i know it gives ME some great ideas! how about you?

 the two ladies who created this sweet display AND the canvas pumpkins 
won the award for  'Best Fall Theme Booth Display' - 
voted on by their fellow dealers! well done, girls!

in a spooky dusty corner of the shop, you'll find a mad scientist's lab!
creepy and gothic apothecary jars filled with specimens, 
dusty old books and yellowed photos and even a gargoyle...
if there can be a style called 'shabby chic', then THIS has to be called 'creepy chic'!

 the store completely changes with every season, 
so no matter when you visit, you'll find new delights around every decorated corner!
[and i haven't even shown you the best stuff here, because those photos are going into the magazine]

thank you, owners peggy and don arbenz for your time,
and for letting me take 245 photos of your beautiful store!

Down Home American Country Antiques
 200 East Chapman Avenue  Orange, CA 92866