Carmel by the sea

I recently visited my home state of California with my daughter. Because my trips home usually encompass catching up with family (I am one of nine!) and visiting friends, I rarely get to enjoy the beautiful sights that California has to offer. This trip, however, I managed to slip in a visit to the beautiful picturesque town of Camel, CA. I love the quaint architecture of the homes and shops and the brilliantly blooming flowers.

carmel, ca



Majolica Pottery At It’s Best…

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I walked through it’s Italian district, North Beach. I came across this wonderful shop called Biordi Art Imports ( They feature classic Italian majolica, an earthenware pottery covered with a white opaque lead glaze that includes tin, and then painted and fired. Using the opaque white glaze is a style of painting particular to the potters from the island of Majorca in the Mediterranean (hence, the name Majolica).

Majolica vases

Majolica pitcher

Many majolica artists derive their inspiration from nature featuring exotically painted fruits and landscapes.

Majolica bowl

Majolica Pot

Majolica tray

Majolica vase


Hurricane Sandy End Tables…

Hurricane Sandy hit us pretty hard here in Princeton, NJ. As a result, we had lots of downed trees. What to do with leftover cut tree stumps? Upcycle!! I’ve always wanted to have a natural look on our outside deck. So I decided to make end tables from the stumps. It was a bit more involved than I had anticipated. With three kids, I could only get to the project on the weekends. But after several months of procrastination and a step by step process, we now have beautiful, natural end tables on our deck just in time for summer!

stripping log

Once the logs were completely stripped of their bark, it was time to sand them. I bought an inexpensive hand sander at Lowe’s for about $30.00.


It took awhile to sand the sides completely, but with the help of my kids, we got the job done!

Then we applied a clear gloss exterior stain. I only bought a quart and it was more than enough. We applied two coats to the top, sides and bottom.


Because the logs are so heavy, I wanted to be able to move them around for convenience. I bought wheels to attach to the bottoms. First, I drilled holes to make installing the screws easier.

drilling holes


Then I screwed each wheel in with “wood” screws (metal screws that are meant to screw into wood).

Screwing each wheel

Once I was done, I turned the log upright to make sure it was balanced.


I now have two beautiful natural looking end tables for my deck! And the best thing is that they were upcycled from a natural disaster with the help of my kids!



Hurricane Sandy end table



Decorating On A Peso


Thought I’d share with you some of the many ways I’ve saved a lot of money by decorating on a peso! I love a bargain! And, I especially love when something is free, handed down or recycled. No doubt I get my frugal approach from my mother who was born during the Depression. She also had 9 children. So I was raised in a household where money was never wasted. Even today, I think her approach is very practical and wise in this over consuming, conservation-conscious world.


Yes! I found a nearly new micro-fiber sectional in perfect condition on Craigslist for only $125! And I spotted the sofa table on the curb in downtown Princeton. It just needed to be dusted.


I found this beautiful mahogany buffet for only $5 at a town-wide tag sale in Hopewell, NJ. They have it every May or June. It is a tiny bit scratched up, but all the drawers and cupboard doors are in perfect working order.


When we moved into our house, there was an existing elaborate brass chandelier in the dining room. I loved the design but hated the brass. So we spray painted it black. It now adds a nice dramatic effect to the room.

I searched and searched for a nice sisal rug with a well-made border. I compared Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Homegoods, etc. With 3 kids, I really didn’t want to invest in something too expensive but wanted something well made. Believe it or not, I found a Sisal/chenille blended 7.5×11 area rug that also had matching runners for my hallway. I love it. And, it’s well made.


I am a big Craigslist fan. I found the wrought-iron 6 piece patio set for only $200. My sister once told me that wrought iron is always the way to go. If it rusts, just scrape it down and repaint it. It will last forever. I have to give credit to my husband for always being willing to go on a Craigslist escapade!


I will often find wonderful decorating items at my local grocery store. I waited until these vases went on sale to nab them. They add a little ethnic flair to my dining room. Another great tip for unique souvenirs:  use elements from nature to make unique and inexpensive one-of-a-kind souvenirs that aren’t tacky. While we were walking around an ancient site in Greece some time ago, I had my kids pick up a few rocks. They were on the outside perimeter of the site so as not to disturb the archaeological authenticity of the site itself. Once we got home, I painted them using the Greek alphabet to spell out the ancient site, Olynthos. Very unique and creative. I get lots of compliments! And it reminds of us our lovely trip.