Monthly Archives: August 2011

Toolbox: giveaway winner!

This week’s giveaway winner will receive a 17 inch Craftsman toolbox and two pairs of safety goggles. This giveaway is part of the ongoing Toolbox series, which teaches how to buy and how to use tools that every adult should own. You can read all about the Toolbox series and all the related posts so far right here.

And the winner is…Avrora D.!

Avrora is intimidated by all things saw or cutting related, for fear of cutting off a finger or worse. I have a strong hunch that cutting blades make many people nervous. (I’ll be contacting you for your mailing address soon, Avrora, so watch your email inbox.)

A big thank you to all of you who left ideas for future toolbox posts. I’m really looking forward to organizing and sharing some great how-to posts with all of you. Knowledge is power, especially when it involves power tools.

If you didn’t win this week’s giveaway, don’t give up! Another giveaway is coming soon. If you have a great a idea for a giveaway you’d like the chance to win, feel free to leave it as a comment below. I’m always on the lookout for things you guys might enjoy in your homes!

The magic cookbook

I have a little organization idea to share with you from my own home. I’d love to be able to tell you it comes from a Martha-like moment of both beauty and creativity, but I can’t. It really comes from years of wrestling foil and plastic wrap back into a drawer that has too many outdated take-out menus in it already.

And, lo! Inspiration struck:

“What is a ‘Magic Cookbook’?”, you may well ask.

It is a magical book of savory delights and cuisines from faraway lands. As you turn through its pages, you mouth waters at its every list of delicious foods. And the most magical part: By dialing a phone number on one of these savory pages, this food will be prepared for you to enjoy in your home. It may even *gasp* be delivered to directly your door.

You with me? The inside of this magic cookbook looks like this:

We love to cook, (check out some great recipes right here), but there are nights when we bow to the masters of other world cuisines to sate our cravings. We love food from Mexico, Spain, India, Thailand, China…almost any place that requires our passport to visit. (I did mean “almost”. After much open-mindedness, Ethiopian food is very literally off the table for us forever.)

However, all of this fabulous cooking is exactly what filled up our foil-and-other-stuff drawer in the kitchen. So, I made myself a cute little binder cover sheet on plain cardstock. You can download and print  my cover as a pdf right here if you like it, too. Then, I was off to Staples, where I picked up one of these:

This book is $4.29. (Click on the picture for the link.)

Next, I cleaned out our menus and slid one menu into every pocket of the presentation book. Done.

Now our take-out menus co-habit the shelf with our big cookbooks and we can find them all easily when we need them. And the foil drawer closes without either of us almost losing a finger.

Could this little idea help you at your house? It can’t solve the too-many-leftover-duck-sauce-packets-in-the-fridge issue, but I try to help where I can! Now dish with me: What is your favorite type of take-out food? Leave a comment and make the rest of us hungry for lunch…

Psssst! If you’re looking for the Toolbox giveaway results, the winner will be announced in a separate post this afternoon. Be sure to stop back by to see if it’s you!

Been framed

Through my design work with clients, I have framed many, many pictures and photos. Hundreds. And I really love doing it.  I am a firm believer that art in the home is a big part of what can make every home feel very personal. Seeing the happy face of a client when their favorite things are displayed proudly is a truly rewarding perk of my job.

That said, I’m a woman who likes to find a good deal and framing can get expensive. If you need a custom mat or a non-standard sized frame, it can add up to a big price tag quickly. The source I’m sharing with you today is one of my all-time go-to favorites for making all of my art framing projects more affordable.

If you’re wondering if this is a big old advertisement, it’s not. I never get paid to recommend products, which you can read more about right here. I discovered this company when we were framing our wedding pictures years ago and I have been a huge fan and customer ever since.

Frames By Mail offers hundreds of frames to choose from, including over 700 styles of wood frames alone. They keep the costs down on their custom frames by shipping them in easy-to-assemble pieces with great assembly instructions. All you need to put them together is a screwdriver. (Don’t let a tiny DIY element intimidate you, you can save A LOT of money with Frames By Mail!)

Custom Framing

To start your custom framing order, you just choose a frame type…

…then choose the frame details, like your custom size:

 The next step is choosing your frame backing (I always go for acid free to protect the art) and the frame front:

Frames By Mail does not use glass finishes, which helps keep their costs down. I use Plexi all the time and you can’t tell the difference on a wall. If you really want glass, you can always order the frame and matting here and just have a piece of glass custom cut locally.

The next step is picking your matting, if you want one:

As you can see, there are plenty of custom mat options. I love that as you are designing your frame online, the website keeps a running tally of your costs visible, which can really help you stay on budget.

Individual Services

Beyond the custom framing, you can also just order what you need. If you just need a custom mat, I highly recommend their great “Mat Designer”, which really gives you control and instant images of what your mat will look like.

If you just need frame hardware, they have this covered, too. You can find all kinds of hanging hardware in their “Supplies”. (This is where I get my craft paper in bulk for gallery wall installations, like the one I showed you right here.)

Other Products

I also want to show you some of the other things Frames By Mail offers. All of these services and products are easy to link to in their website menu bar. The easiest way to frame your pictures is their “Print and Frame” shop. You just upload your photo from your computer, Facebook or Flickr, then choose your frame.

They also have a great selection of ready-made frames in standard sizes. I like to check out their Clearance section for great deals on these, too.

I am a big fan of their printing on canvas. You can upload your own image, choose the canvas size and then choose how you want to finish the canvas: colored edge, gallery wrap, framed, etc. They walk you though it, step-by-step, and explain each option.

If you are a fan of architecture, you might like their “Frame Your Name” service. You just type in the name you want to use…

…and they match it to their architectural letters library to spell it out. You can alter each letter individually, too, to make it more your style.

Choose your frame and mat and you are done. These make great gifts for people in the hard-to-buy-for category of our lives.

Speaking of gifts, you might want to consider their “Make It Motivational” framing ideas. You upload your picture add your text (or choose from their library of ideas) and the image is saved in that recognizable motivational poster format.

Be inspiring or be really silly. If you’ve ever flipped through a Skymall catalog and thought “I could write something better than that…”, now is your chance! And of course, Frames By Mail offer gift cards, in any denomination. The hardest choice may be deciding which way to spend it!

So, those are the things I love about Frames By Mail. Lots of beautiful framing options, original art ideas and great savings. I hope this helps you with your framing projects as much as it has helped me with mine!

Want more ideas for adding art to your home? You can explore all of my ideas and solutions for art right here. There are more posts planned for this topic, too, so be sure to stop by again.

Now it’s you turn to share: What have you always wanted to frame? What is the most awkward thing you have ever framed? Have you ever received a great framed gift? Share your stories and leave a comment!

L-IKEA 2012

If you’re a fan like me, then the sight of what I’m about to show you may warm the little cockles of your heart. And you may even find a new piece of furniture named “KOKL” inside this…

The 2012 Ikea catalog is out! Does this suddenly make you crave Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam? If you live near an Ikea, you might want to swing by and check out the lovely new merchandise. If you are new to Ikea, here’s where you can find the nearest Ikea to you…just click the map below to get to their store locator.

Has anyone been to the new Centennial, Colorado Ikea? Rumor has it that it is TWICE the size of a regular Ikea in floor space. I’ve heard that from several Ikea employees here in Maryland and even those employees can’t picture how big that would be. Anyone have some CO shopping stories to dish with the rest of us?

I am very lucky to live near 3 Ikea stores, spread between 20 minute, 45 minute and 70 minute drives. My friend Nancy and I (Hi Nancy!) took her two little boys for a little shopping reconnaissance at the College Park, Maryland location earlier this week. Oh, it was fun to explore!

To share the Ikea shopping joy, I’ve made a couple of mood boards full of inspiration. All of the items on these mood boards come from Ikea. You can edit and configure them to fit your room however they would work best for you. Below each board, I’ve linked all of the items to their online catalog pages for easy browsing.

Dining room furnishing links:

Bedroom furnishing links:

Want to get more Ikea inspiration? You can pick up the new catalog in stores now or order one to be mailed directly to you by clicking right here!

Are you an Ikea fan? What store location do you shop at? What is your best Ikea purchase and where do you use it? Share the fun and leave a comment!

Toolbox: free giveaway!

*****The contest listed at the bottom of this post is now closed.*****

Last week we talked about the great quality of Craftsman tools and DIY homes. This week I want to talk about where to keep those hand tools that we have been learning about in the ongoing Toolbox series.

It may come as no surprise to you readers that I love to organize and putting your tools away is what help you be handy and prepared for the next project. Keeping your tools nicely organized also helps keep you and your loved ones safe in your home. Ever drop a hammer near your foot? Shifting and loosely piled tools can be dangerous.

Gone are the days of our grandfathers, when home toolboxes often looked like this:

Image courtesy of Home Depot

There are so many tool boxes available today, some of which can get rather large:

Image courtesy of Home Depot

and others that may require some extra diligence in putting things away:

Image courtesy of Home Depot

So, how do you know what to pick?  I recommend a sturdy 17 inch to 18 inch toolbox, with at least one interior tray. This size of toolbox is long enough to hold your hammer, but not so bulky or heavy that it can’t be tucked away neatly in the bottom of your coat closet.

This is the perfect sized toolbox for the tools we are learning about and adding to your collection in the Toolbox post series, too. And to encourage you all to get your hand tools organized…I’m giving away a Craftsmen toolbox!

This toolbox is made from rugged plastic and has a sturdy metal clasp, just in case you ever drop it. (I’m told this sometimes happens…I, uh, heard it from a  “friend”. Yeah.) It comes with an interior tray for organizing your smaller items and has plenty of room in the bottom for all the tools you should know how to use.

“But wait! There’s more!”

I’m also including two pairs of safety glasses in this giveaway. One pair is clear and the other pair is tinted for working outside comfortably. Every good DIY-er knows safety should always come first!

So, how can you win this handy gift set for your own home? I’m glad you asked…

To Enter:  Leave a comment that begins with “I WANNA BE MORE HANDY!” and name the hand tool that intimidates you most and why. Does swinging a hammer at a clean wall make you nervous? Are pliers finicky? Do ratchet wrench sets have too many pieces? Let me know what frustrates you and we’ll tackle these tools in future Toolbox posts!

Enter By:  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 10pm EST

Number of winners: Only 1, so enter now! Only one entry per email address will be allowed, so that everyone gets a fair chance of winning.

The Winner:  Will be selected at random from the total number of comments by using and will be announced in a post next Tuesday.

Want more giveaways? Let me know about the kinds of things you would like to win when you enter your comment. You might inspire a future giveaway!


We’re picking up where we left off with yesterday’s post with a related Design Vocabulary term today. Two Design Vocabulary terms in one week? That’s crazy talk! I know, but they are so closely related. I think if we are going to talk about embossed wallpaper, we should do it right. That’s just how I roll. (Does my “roll” pun in a post about wallpaper seem spontaneous? Let’s pretend it does.)

Image courtesy of Southern Living


We discussed the popularity of Lincrusta yesterday. It was so popular that a Lincrusta company employee, a Mr. Thomas J. Palmer, had an idea for advancing the technology. He took his idea to his boss, but Mr. Walton was not interested. So, Mr. Palmer took out his own patent and formed his own successful company in 1887.


The term “Anaglypta” is compiled from two Greek root words, “ana” meaning “raised” and “glypta” meaning “cameo”. The difference between Lincrusta and Mr. Palmer’s Anaglypta is its core materials. While Lincrusta is oil and wood flour formed hard onto canvas, Anaglypta is formed from wood pulp and cotton onto paper. This makes Anaglypta lighter in weight and more flexible to apply to a wall.

If you have ever lived in an old house, you are probably aware of the phenomenon of the house “settling”. Anaglypta has the same easy-to clean and easy-to paint qualities as Lincrusta, but its flexibility makes it more suitable to other, more complicated surfaces and their aging behaviors.

Image courtesy of

Historically, it is difficult to tell Anaglypta from Lincrusta just by looking at it or running your hand along the wall. However, the most commonly produced of the two for modern homes is Anaglypta. It is just easier to apply and maintain that the rigid Lincrusta.

Modern Styles and Sources

Most great wallpaper companies make their own version of anaglypta today. It can be very handy if you need to cover a poorly finished wall in an older home. It can be a great solution to adding some big impact to modern walls.

I’ve gathered together some great modern anaglypta below for some browsing fun for you today. Most of these images are going to be without color because they want you to imagine your own color over the top. We can daydream together…

This wallpaper is called “Jana” by Graham & Brown. (I am a huge fan of all things Graham & Brown.) I really like the modern geometry of this pattern. I would love to see this in a rich charcoal color.

This is “Curvy”, also by Graham & Brown. This photo is s great example of how paint can really personalize this wallpaper. If you eve get tired of the pink color, you can just paint right over it. I would love to use this wallpaper with a peacock blue-teal paint, because the pattern reminds me of the exotic eye pattern on peacock feathers.

This is “Small Squares” from Graham and Brown, which has an older feel to it and could be used many different ways. I would love to use this on a ceiling in a rich Spanish red leather type of color. Ooh, that would be so decadent to see as you walk into a room!

This is Graham & Brown’s “Large Damask” and I’m glad they’ve shown this paper in a bathroom setting. Wallpaper in a small, less-used room, like a powder room, is a great way to use pattern and texture without worrying about “getting tired of it”. I would love to paint this wallpaper in a deep sage green.

It’s the beadboard that is the anaglypta in this Graham & Brown picture. Much easier to install than real beadboard. I am always in favor of less sawdust to clean up after a decor project. Martha Stewart makes a version of this pattern for Home Depot, too.

Just in case you’re thinking, “I haven’t seen this type of wallpaper anywhere.”, let me assure you, it’s out there. Many companies now use the term “paintable wallpaper” to market these products. I guess “Anaglypta” requires a history explanation they don’t want to bother with, but now you are in the know. Here are links to full lines of “paintable wallpapers” at stores and sites you might already be familiar with:

Next time you find yourself in one of these stores, take a look at their anaglypta samples up close. Run your hands over them and see if you can see what you great grandparents loved about them. They are great wall coverings with a long history behind them.

Do you like them idea of textured wallpaper? Do you prefer an older style or something with a more mod print? Share your impressions with me…(I promise that’s the last embossed wallpaper pun for a while.)


Today’s Design Vocabulary post is about a special type of wallpaper. Do you know the old saying “Not your grandmother’s (insert item here)”? Well, this may have been your grandmother’s and your great grandmother’s wallpaper. And when we’re done, you might want it, too.


The Victorians had a common household problem. Soot. We forget, in our post-incandescent-light-bulb world, exactly how many flames it used to take to light up a room at night. The average Victorian home used their light very conservatively, whether it was gas or candle light, but the soot still got everywhere.

Today, we think of candle light as being romantic, out of the ordinary. Sconces on our walls are mostly decorative and provide ambient light. I doubt we would find these lights quite so lovely if we had to scrub down the walls after we used them. With every light lit in a Victorian room, more soot was added to the room.

Enter Frederick Walton:

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

He had invented linoleum in the 1860’s and when it proved to be SO popular (hands up anyone who has ever mopped a linoleum floor in their lifetime), he started thinking of more ways to adapt his new technology for household use. By 1877, he was ready with a new product…


Using the root words of “lin” from the linseed oil found in flax and “crusta” meaning “relief” (in the architectural meaning of the word, not “whew!”), Walton created embossed wallpaper. It is made from organic ingredients, such as linseed oil and wood flour, which is then pressed onto heavy canvas.

When the canvas dries, the embossed surface becomes rigid and can be sold in rolls like regular wallpaper.

It is a remarkably heavy and durable surface. It is very scrubbable, unlike many of the plaster walls it was bought to cover. It’s decorative patterns make it feel like a luxury. Victorian home owners could rest assured that their servants could now get those soot stains off the walls with no problems, too. Best of all, it can be painted:

Examples of Use

Beyond your walls, there are as many way to use Lincrusta as you can imagine. You can use it as a border:

As a decorative frieze against your crown molding:

As faux paneling:

Or even, to dress up your ceiling:

Image courtesy of

Because of the rigid molding on the surface, Lincrusta can hold oil or water based paints very well. It also makes decorative finishes look beautiful and luxurious. Here’s a great example:

Lincrusta is still in production today. Except where otherwise noted, all of the images for this post come directly from the lovely Lincrusta website, which you can explore right here. It is a product in high demand for historic home restoration and historic public buildings of note, including the White House.

But that’s not the end of this story…

Lincrusta was so popular that others started to play with the designs and technology, too. I’ll be back tomorrow with more details on the next innovation in embossed wallpaper, including some very modern styles you may want to install in your home….

Image courtesy of Graham & Brown

Do you like the idea of textured walls? What pattern would you use and what color would you paint it? Can you think of an unconventional place to hang texture wallpaper? Leave a comment and share your ideas!

Free monthly mood board: Dorm room to-go

The calendar has rolled over to a new month and it is time for me to offer another free mood board on Pinterest. This mood board comes with its pictures linked to all of the sources used in the design. It’s like getting a whole room professionally designed…for free!

Last month’s mood board was a beach nursery and this month’s mood board takes us to the other end of childhood. We are creeping up on back-to-school season, so I though I’d turn my hand to a girl’s dorm room. (I asked Mr. CARO if I should do a boy’s dorm room, but he assured me that teenage boys going off to college really do not care if their living spaces look pulled together.)

I have offered a few tried-and-true solutions to fight some common dorm issues, such as XL twin bed sizes and no-holes-in-the-walls policies. I also chose a lot of color for this dorm room, to keep it looking personal. The patterns I chose all embrace some use of white, which almost makes the institutional white walls look like a choice.

I have also included some practical must-haves for day-to-day living on campus, such as more book storage, closet organization, late night snack storage and the dreaded laundry. I’ve tried to choose products for this part of dorm life that are either inexpensive and/or could be used beyond college in a first apartment.

Even if you are not going off to college this Fall, you’ll find some pretty and helpful items on this mood board. There are also other mood boards with household favorites of mine to browse while you are visiting the Pinterest site. Just remember, this month’s free mood board with all of its links for easy shopping will be gone on September 1st!

Want to see the whole “Girl’s Dorm Room To Go” mood board now? You can check it out by clicking the Pinterest logo on the sidebar or the one right here:

Do you have an idea for a Pinterest Mood Board you’d like me to make? Leave it in a comment…you may inspire next month’s design!

%d bloggers like this: