Thursday, December 31, 2009

My House Feels Naked, Does Yours?


Christmas is no longer in my house, but now I am starting with a clean slate for the New Year. I forget how much clutter Christmas decorations entail until I take it all down….yikes!

I made out like a bandit this Christmas and am still busy burning holes in all of the gift cards. How about you? I still think that my neighbor got the coolest gift, a hovercraft.

I think that Murphy Grace and I need one of these to run around the yard, but they are very noisy. (imagine like 10 gas leaf blowers all going at the same time)

I have some resolutions for the New Year and they include posting more regularly and sharing more crafty projects. There is a great book that just came out by Gretchen Rubin called The Happiness Project. This book will be a major player for my life in the coming months. I am looking forward to becoming happier and maybe even healthier!

Right now, I have to get back to filling some blank walls and throwing the prime rib in the oven.

May you have a very Happy and Safe New Years Celebration and I will see you on the flip side!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Dad was Here & I Have the Rocks to Prove It.


My dad and Maria went back to Arizona today and left me with tons of warm fuzzies. (in part thanks to the warm and fuzzy down jackets they gave to Art and I)

We were both nervous to see each other, but I didn’t puke or freak out when they drove up. Even though they did go to the wrong house at first. 

I wore pants with zippers for 3 days straight. That is cause for celebration right there.

We ate too much. Maybe that isn’t fair, I ate too much, I could hibernate like a bear in my pants without zippers right now.

We saw seals. Turns out, they don’t have those in Arizona. Who knew?

We went to Moonstone Beach, where they have cool rocks instead of sand. Not to be confused with the ugly rocks that I have in my front yard. Now I have a jar of Daddy Rocks.

We saw cool seagulls with peanuts in their mouth. Do they have those in AZ? I am thinking not.

We went outlet shopping, but I didn’t take any pictures there. You know what an outlet looks like right?

We walked here. We saw lots of happy California cows. We visited the glassblowers in the tiny town of Harmony, population 18. How do I know that? Because they had t-shirts, shot glasses and a bunch of other crap telling us.

Most importantly, we reconnected and they got to met Art and Murphy Grace. They wanted to bring Murphy home with them, but never said anything about bringing Art with them. Hmm, don’t tell him that, his feelings might be hurt.

My daddy, me, and my step mommie, Maria. She will kill me for saying that, but she can’t because she is now in AZ.

I also learned that they read my blog because they stressed that I am more important than the dog several times. Opps, now I have to watch what I say. Must not mention strangling their dog again. She was cute, by the way.

A grand time was had by all, I hope and I can’t thank them enough for making the trip. I am just happy and grateful all the way around.

Merry Christmas everybody and just in case my mom reads my blog too……for Christmas, I really want a lampworking torch and a kiln so that I can make my own beads.

This post brought to you by a very happy girl that got to see her daddy for Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Christmas Miracle Almost Ruined by a Dog. (This time it wasn't Murphy Grace)


Long before Murphy Grace and I found each other and I started to blog, I was a member of a another great community,  I met people like j r of the blog, Frugality is Free, Heather of My Frugal Family and Sophie of Opening Lines.

The online friendships are something that I really treasure on Gather, but I have a secret. They have great contests and I love those too.

On Wednesday, thanks to Gather and Hallmark, I won a contest to send my daddy to me for Christmas. The prize package included airfare, $250 in transportation costs and a $100 Hallmark gift card. (If interested, you can check out my entry)

I was overjoyed because I haven’t seen my dad in years and he has never even met the love of my life, Art or Murphy Grace. (Is is possible to have two loves in a life?)

What should have been a great thing turned into an emotional nightmare because my dad has a dog. He didn’t want to fly with this little 7 pound wonder because he was worried about her stress levels. Yet, he didn’t want to leave her with a boarder either.

He also didn’t get the concept of when you win a contest like this, there are some ground rules, like he has to travel on certain dates, etc.

There were a lot of phone calls between him and I and a lot of emails between the wonderful people at Gather and I, but for my sanity, I had to stop. It is not so great to seem less important than a dog and it really felt like my dad was passing up the chance to see me after it had been seven long years for a dog.

I couldn’t take it anymore; when I say emotional nightmare, I mean it. I finally emailed Gather and asked them to give the prize to the runner up, someone that has a family that really wants to see them.

IT HURT! More than the black eyes and a conked head, let me tell you.

A few hours and many more tears later, my dad called and told me that he had rented a car and they would be here on the 20th. (Mind you, if he had just been open to this a few hours earlier, Gather probably would have paid for it)

So, this year, for Christmas, this little girl is going to see her daddy and gonna have to hold herself back from strangling a 7 pound Chihuahua named Abbie.

My Gather friends don’t know this story yet because I have been waiting for Gather to announce the change. I sure hope that they do give it to the runner up. I am totally embarrassed and hope that all the other entrants understand.

I was just a girl, who wanted to see her daddy for Christmas and now doesn’t like Chihuahuas. Murphy Grace will crush her like a bug, I better watch that:)

P.S. because of all of this drama, I am way behind in reading and responding to my bloggy friends. I will catch up soon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Bloody Nose, A Slight Concussion & Maybe Another Giant Dog..

It has been a busy week here at Murphy Grace Home, let me take you on a trip back to last Thursday…inset weird time warp music here……

While I don’t follow any organized religion, I do enjoy learning about other people’s views and their faiths. With that in mind, I have taken to weekly discussions with a nice Jehovah’s Witness person named Darlene. We wax on the bible, talk about the events of the day, compare their teachings to my Catholic upbringing, etc.

Thursday, sitting on the front patio, we are chatting about the role of women in marriage when Murphy Grace manages to get out from the backyard. He is not, uh, how do I put this, very socialized or very graceful. (hence the middle name) He lands in my lap, where with his 70 plus pounds of overabundance he smacks me in the nose with his hard head.

There is blood everywhere very quickly. The Jehovah’s Witness lady, who I lovingly refer to the “Up with Jesus” lady behind her back has nothing to say except, “That is a lot of blood.” Meanwhile, I am trying to staunch the flow biting my lip to stop the flow of cuss words that is flying through my brain at Murphy Grace. If I was still a practicing Catholic, I would have to gone to confession for just thinking those words if you know what I mean.

We all lived and looking back, the whole thing was rather funny. Of course, it wasn’t so funny when I woke up on Friday with a nice black eye, but as long as I don’t look in the mirror, I am golden.

…..insert time warp music here again….

Last night, I deserved this one. I was trying to do a replay of sorts of Murphy Grace once again, proving the laws of physics. You see, minutes earlier he had bashed his head on the closed sliding glass door. This is a frightenly regular occurrence in our home, except this time, instead of just hearing the thud, I was there to witness it. (It isn’t like I even keep the doors clean mind you, he just doesn’t look)

So here I am, pretending that the back of the couch was the glass door and mimicking his idiotic crash, when I see a black blur. Next thing I know, I am flat out on the living room floor and while I can hear Art laughing, he also has a sort of worried look on his face. The darn dog hit me so hard on the right side of the head that I actually conked out for a bit. This time, I can’t even think of any cuss words because it feels like my skull is cracked and my brain is leaking out from somewhere to the left.

I was worried about going to sleep. Aren’t ya not supposed to go to sleep when ya get conked on the head? My head hurt too much to google it, so I just gambled on it being an old wives tale and hit the hay.

I am still trying to shake a horrible headache and now two black eyes today when my mom calls from the local animal shelter. It seems that they have two Great Danes that need a home and she wonders if I would like them. Gotta love a mom that remembers that you have a thing for Great Danes, but her timing sucks.

I am not so sure that my body can take it, so I told her that I would think about it………

Editing this to add one of the Danes that my mom wants me to look at. He is a mix and weighs in at over 100 pounds….

Say hi to Tuxedo, he looks a lot like Murphy, only bigger.

I am still thinking….and aching….any good make up tips to cover up two black eyes?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Scored with a Dresser!


Get your mind out of the gutter. I picked up a great dresser last week and I am still dancing my deal’s praises.

I have been chillin’ with my friend Craig, you know CraigsList, for a while chatting up dressers when I came across this beauty.

I know that she doesn’t look like much in this picture, but she is a classic beauty made of Elm wood and all decked out in dovetailed finery.

The best part was the price, $25 for an antique dresser! I know many of you will ask, “What color are ya gonna paint her?” I am not going to touch her. She is perfect just the way she is and I have an aversion to painting antiques if they are in pretty good shape.

Now my all of my unmentionables have a home and they no longer have to share with Art’s in his dresser. They are almost as excited as I am. (Yes, I asked my socks what they thought and they cheered!)


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am Thankful for You!


You guys rock! Have I told you that? You inspire me every day. I may not always blog about all of the things that ya’ll get me to try, but trust me, I get outside my comfort zone a bit more everyday because of you.

It has been a year of ups and downs and that is okay, life is like that. I am just happy to be here today and I hope that I don’t burn the turkey tomorrow.

Holidays make me reflect on the past year, do they do that to you? They also make me focus on goals that I would like to achieve in the next year.

Last year, I didn’t have a dog.

In the next year I would like to teach him that he can’t eat my Crate & Barrel pillows or take rides in the UPS truck.

Yes, I like to keep things simple:)

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let me Introduce You to My Frugal Family and her Giveaway!


     Heather has been a shining star in the world that I a part of for the few years that I have been there. She is a great mom with tons of crafty & frugal ideas and projects. She is now pooling all of her rescources on her blog, My Frugal Family.

     She has a knack for turning her Dollar Store finds into something fabulous and fun as I am sure you will see.

     Right now, she is giving away arm warmers, a cool stuffed snake, and a fleece fun hat at her blog. Run on over there, enter, and don’t forget to tell her who sent ya’)



     Doesn’t that arm warmer make you feel toasty already?

                           Enter Here

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Have U Been to a Storage Unit Auction?

     Thanks to Miss Mustard Seed’s 10 Secrets to Thrifting Success, I found an auction being held at a self storage place last week. (check out for auctions in your area)

     I had never been to an auction like this before & I was a bit nervous, so I brought MurphyGrace. (okay, looking back, that was not the best plan that I have ever had)

     Let me just tell you right here and now, it was pretty sad. They open the unit, you get to look inside at all of the things that people thought were important enough to store for years, but now can’t pay for and think. “This is a person’s memories, their grandma’s hat, their child’s 1st grade class photo, that old TV that still works….” It was voyeuristic, creepy, and eye opening. 

     Murphy and I did make a friend that helped us learn the ropes. He also made the whole experience brighter by what he did. The first unit that went up for auction, my new friend, Dan, was the highest bidder. As we walked to the next unit up for auction, Dan told me that the unit was actually his X’s and she had fallen on hard times. He drove all the way up from Santa Monica and was happy to help her out and get her things back for her. What a nice guy.

     If you are curious, there were 3 units that sold for $325, $105, & $125. The two lower prices were smaller, 5 X 10 units.

     I don’t think that I will have the stomach to go to one again, but I am glad that I went and learned about the process and it never hurts to make a new friend.

     So, if you ever need your guitar or other stringed instrument repaired in the LA area, call Players Repairs at 323-375-7814 and ask for Dan Singer. One good deed  deserves another right?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Insert Fun & Captivating Title Here


I feel my creative juices flowing back in, but I still couldn’t manage a title….

On to the point of this post!

Itty Bitty Table, more like a display thingie for a whopping $1 from the Pacific Home Do-It Center.


Too really ugly gold candle sticks, a cute & tiny pewter mug and a nice cut glass carafe. Total?? $3

Lampshade $1, Ornaments 50 cents, a coffee carafe for when, notice I say when, ours breaks? Priceless at $1.

So we didn’t get this from the thrift store, but it was a great deal at PetSmart for $2.50. (When we bought him the ear wasn’t chewed yet)

MurphyGrace loves it. Now if I could just get him to stop throwing it around the house like a football, that would be really nice;)

Make sure you go and visit Leigh at Bloggaritaville and see all of the Thrifty Treasures that people have this week.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Spray Painted a Brownie!



     No, I don’t mean that I painted one of those cute mini Girl Scouts. I was putting my Halloween stuff away the other day when I came across this in the trunk.

     This is a Brownie camera that was my grandfathers. I have many cameras that were his, but I am tired of displaying them. I am never going to sell them, because they were his, but I decided to snaz this one up a bit.

I taped and taped and taped. Then I sprayed it the new color that Art has decided he wants in our bedroom. (Yes, he has spoken up and now that means that I have to adapt)

So now, we have an avocado green Brownie! It still works, still makes me think of my grandfather and all that. It just is a cool, new, modernish looking thing to decorate with!

Have you ever painted something that deep down, you know was breaking all sorts of rules?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

House Hunting is No Fun When You Need A Place.

     A month or so ago, one of my favorite hobbies was house hunting. I enjoyed reading the section in the paper on Saturdays and haunting, keeping an eye on what was available in our area and the prices as they went up and down.

     I could drive around our town and tell you the asking price on many of the homes, how long it had been on the market and if they had dropped the price lately. I liken my hobby to a guy that knows a lot of about cars that he will never own. You know that guy…the one that can tell you how many horsepower a Lamborghini has, but has never even seen one? That was me with homes.

     That has all changed now. The love is totally gone. Now that we need to move, I am finding nothing that I want and it is really frustrating. I have also lost my zest for decorating which is a darn shame if you ask me!

     It is hard to get excited about whipping the perfect something up to put on the wall when I don’t know how long it will be there or if it will fit the look of our new home.

     We are looking based on three scenarios, so you would think that we could find something. These are the ideas…

  1. We find a new rental.
  2. We buy a home on a modest budget that somehow we can qualify for even though banks hate me because I am self employed.
  3. We eat crow and talk my parents into buying a nicer house, which we will then rent, maintain, rehab, etc. (and eventually buy from them)

     That is a lot of options, but there just aren’t many houses out there right now that fit our other criteria.

So, I am so sorry that I have been AWOL. I have just been in a royal funk.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The One Where My House is Killing Me…


     Most of my decorating projects have been put on hold lately because we realized something really earth shattering while on vacation.

     I have had allergies and asthma all of my life, so when they got worse earlier this year, I really didn’t notice much. At first I chalked it up to the season change, some other health issues, getting the beloved MurphyGrace, etc.

     Finally, last month it was getting so bad that I started a journal of sorts, recording what I ate, what time I started wheezing, if I worked in the yard, painted, all of the things that might effect my runny eyes, stuffed up nose and me reaching for the inhaler. I thought that I could find a pattern. I even tried to write down the times that I crawled around on the 30 plus year old carpet with MurphyGrace!

     We went to Chicago and it ALL STOPPED. I used maybe three tissues and didn’t have to take allergy meds or use my inhaler the entire time. (and they have three dogs)

     The only common denominator in all of my obsessive journaling was this…..

     The place we call Liberty Ranch is killing me! We looked in the obvious places for mold, like sinks and such, but didn’t really see anything. Then we walked around the house itself and found tons of mold on the stucco and the from the outside, you could see tons of black mold around the window frame in the bedroom. There was actual moss growing on the walls in some spots. (Like the stuff that you buy to decorate floral arrangements with!)

     Luckily, we rent. That is about the only time you will hear me say that I feel lucky for renting. That means all of this is not really our problem, but we have to move.

     So I have been busy scouring our little town for rentals or possibly a place for sale. We have a huge demand list and it is tough going, but I am sure that we will find a place. The thought of moving for the second time in a year is a huge blow and I really love the layout of this house, but I can’t tell you how good the prospect of not feeling so sick every day feels.

     Have you ever dealt with mold or another issue in a house that affects your health?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

You Light Up My Life!


      The main reason that you seldom see pictures of the inside of my home is because I am in dire need of better lighting. Let’s just say that it is a cave and leave it at that.

     What this means to you, my dear thrifty minded readers, is that I am always on the look out for lamps of any kind. This week we found a pair of lamps that so reminded Art & I of our trip to Chicago that we found ourselves hugging them to our bodies as we wandered through Goodwill.

  $20 for two lamps that reminded us of the skyscrapers on our trip. They are really heavy, tall and just need some lamp shades. (Anyone have a good source?)

     Our next stop after Goodwill was the local library. Three or four times a year, they have a used book sale and I go a bit nuts. The last hour of the sale, you can get a paper grocery bag full of books for 50 cents.  If you read a lot, need some books to decorate with, or would like to expand your crafting/decorating book selection, this is the place for you. (I urge you to contact your library to see if and when they have sales)

     I came home with 5 bags of books. Yeah, I read a lot, but not all of it was for reading. I picked up these three because they were not only classics, but were pretty display books too.

     Next stop was Restore, where someone had bought the wrong size knobs for a desk. I am not going to say who, let’s just say that it wasn’t me;)

     We had a whopping $6.50 credit and I grabbed some paint and this cute little wall shelf. $5, maybe more than I would have paid at a garage sale, but it goes to a great cause, Habitat for Humanity.

     I am linking up to the very first “I’m a Flea Marketeer Party” at Flea Market Style, so make sure you go by there and see all of the great style makers!


A Genie of a Lamp and Things to Do with Burlap #4

    I have shared this lamp before that I picked up for peanuts…..    

     A bit brassy and I don’t mean the good kind of brassy. A simple spritz with spray paint and I know have this jobbie to light up my life.

     On to “Things to Do With Burlap”, California got hit with a major storm last week. I was gone, but thought that my stash of burlap would be safe under the patio cover. I was wrong! The stack got a bit damp so today I decided to cover part of my driveway in burlap.

     Okay, it isn’t really a burlap project, but it made me grateful that we have a really huge driveway!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chicago Randomness


     I won’t bore you with the over 300 pictures of various buildings that made we weak in the knees in Chicago. There are some shots though that may make you laugh or at least smile.

     This was the view from our room…Um, no, this was actually a display at The Field Museum. They did have Sue, the largest, most complete and best preserved T. Rex in the world. (Yes, I just copied that sentence from the guide book)

     This is Rudy, one of three dogs that Art’s sister has. Rudy was a big help in keeping an eye on me while I climbed up the ladder on the Frank Lloyd Wright house.

     See what I mean? I don’t know if she thought that she would catch me or what, but she was on patrol.

     This was in the front yard of one of the beautiful homes in Oak Park. It made me giggle.

     A fountain, that seemed like it was designed more as an after thought. It was in a strange place, right next to the sidewalk. Cute, but sort of dangerous to passers by.

     The evil squirrel! Doesn’t he look possessed??

     Murphy Grace made it through at summer camp and was happy to see us. (I think) He has stuck pretty close ever since we got home.

     There was a big storm at home while we were gone. Big by California standards and the house was trashed when we got home. Yeah, I could have done without that.

    Still, there is no place like home and I find myself energized and ready to take on some new projects. Isn’t that what vacations are for?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stepping in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Footsteps


     One of the things that I was most excited about seeing in Chicago was the architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Louis H. Sullivan, they were all here.

     Being an armchair Architectural Historian and my favorite style being the Arts & Crafts/Prairie Style , I practically had a heart attack when I learned that my sister-in-law, a master mason, was working on restoring a chimney on a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home.

     Yesterday, I got the opportunity of a lifetime. I climbed up a huge ladder and wandered around on the roof of the house that she was working on. It was one of the most thrilling things that I have ever done. I am not sure what that says about my life and it’s lack of excitement, but I don’t care!

     I haven’t had a chance to edit these at all, but here is my shinning moment….

And here is the home…

     I can’t thank Lori enough for giving me the chance to do something that so few people get to do. I woke up this morning pinching myself.

     Do you love architecture? Do you have a favorite period or architect?


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