Linville Landscape

We went to Linville last weekend for Mother’s Day. The mountain my mother lives on is right across from Grandfather. We always like to drive all the way up to the top to see the views. There used to be a house on this point, but just the foundation and a few pipes are there now.  I hope nothing ever is rebuilt there:


It’s always nice to visit Linville because the temperature is usually 10 to 15 degrees cooler than where we live because of the change in elevation. The trees haven’t even realized it’s spring yet! Boo playing on the porch with the dogs:


A gorgeous sunset at Wildcat Lake in Banner Elk:


My mother and Boo went exploring one day Brett and I went off by ourselves to explore a few yard sales. We love treasure hunting. A few finds:

Vintage Coffee Tins. The kind you used to have to open with a key!  We watched The Prize Winner from Defiance, Ohio two nights ago and I was able to point this out for Boo when Woody Harrelson was opening a tin of Spam with the same contraption.

coffee tins

I think this is an old military issue drafting set. Not entirely sure. It says property of the government on it, doesn’t even look like the tools have been used. Any ideas?

drafting set

An toy accordion. Still works! I haven’t been able to figure out the year yet because I can’t find another Emenee that’s aqua or turquoise. Maybe 1960’s?


A really old Bayer aspirin tin (fifteen cents!) and a book of poetry (1947) filled with pressed flowers:


I’ll enjoy them for a while and then it will be time to pass them on and look for new things.

The Cookbook’s Story

Working in the used book store one day I came across a tiny little cookbook with a tattered cover. This particular book caught my eye because it said “more than 5,000,000 copies in use”…and that was as of the 1941 printing.  I didn’t think 5,000,000 copies of anything had ever been printed as of 1941.

Vintage Cookbook - Rumford Cook Book 1941

The book store was slow this particular day and flipping through the small, fabric-covered book, a story began to appear.  Hand written with an ink pen in the next to last page was a recipe for Raise Doughnuts. I loved how old the handwriting looked and I especially loved that doughnuts were being enjoyed in 1941.  I. love. doughnuts.

 “Fry in deep fat 4 min” 

Vintage cookbook with old recipe written in the back - Rumford Cook Book 1941


I devoured this tiny recipe book not for the recipes, but for the little traces left behind.  The drips, spatters and pools of ingredients on the pages made it clear which recipes were referenced the most. I imagined the owner’s name was something like Mabel, or Hazel, or Pearl or maybe Anna. Yes, Anna.

Anna made the Shrimp Patties at least once, and only on a special occasion. She would have read “be sure to remove small black intestinal veins which run down center back of shrimps” and probably had a stronger stomach than me.

Anna made something from page 36 and 37 more than once which would have been a fancy chicken dish like Fricassee Chicken, Chicken a la Stanley, or Chicken a la Providence.  Sometime Anna cooked with her cookbook propped up because on the salad dressing pages a few of the drops went at least 3 inches directionally down the page. Pages 92 through 97 of the Pastry section were the most well loved in the book with endless remnants of cornstarch and flour. A ring of what looks like vanilla extract covered the Chocolate Chiffon Pie recipe:

If a cookbook could tell a story - Vintage Rumford Cookbook


There were various spills across the Nut Cake recipe and How to Prepare Cake Pans instructional page.  A spot of what looked to be frosting was dropped right onto the words “very little at a time” on the Butter Cream Frosting Recipe.  The Fudge Brownies and Brown Refrigerator Cookies page was the most used, barely hanging on with a rip through one side and into the center, and covered in sticky spills and powders:

Brown Sugar Refrigerator Cookies via Rumford

She made one of the following: Eggnog, Lemonade, Barley Water, Oatmeal Gruel, Clam Broth, Beef Juice, or Beef Tea. I hoped it was just plain lemonade.

Never be cross or cruel
Never give us castor oil or gruel
Love us as a son and daughter
And never smell of barley water
-from Mary Poppins

Looking through Anna’s book I could also tell you what she never made: Sandwiches. The Sandwich section was pristine and untouched.  The Canning, Preserving and Pickling section looked unused so she wouldn’t have made Cranberry Conserve or Pickled Peaches.  I love the sound of those names.

I don’t know how Anna’s cookbook ended up in the store. I wish “Anna” had written her name in the cover so I would know her real name. I think it’s funny that she never wrote a single thing in the book except for that doughnut recipe.  She never made any notes or folded down any pages. It could have been her only cookbook or one of many.

The original 1908 printing of the Rumford Complete Cookbook would have cost one dollar, about twenty five dollars today.   1908 would have been Anna’s mother’s version of a cookbook and it would have had things like Albumenized Milk, Potted Pigeon, and Invalid’s Tea.  I still have my mother’s old Joy of Cooking Cookbook and I prefer the worn look of it over a new one.

Every old book kind of reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit. Especially this one.

You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby.

But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit


A random interesting fact: Although the cookbook is no longer in print, you can still buy Rumford Baking Powder, it’s still made by the Clabber Girl Corporation. It is an all-phosphate baking powder (containing calcium acid phosphate – no aluminum). Aluminum-free. Non-GMO. Gluten-free. Certified Kosher.

Recent Reclaimed and Upcycled Wood Projects

Brett’s been enjoying a new hobby of making stuff.  I look outside and he has headphones on, his shirt off….the chop saw and nail gun spread all over the driveway. He says it’s therapeutic. He’s constantly picking up discarded wood and old pallets to take apart to make containers, furniture and wood canvases.  A resourceful hobby/hubby:

DIY Upcycled Wood Projects - Rustic home decor ideas

I came home the other day and he had made us some new furniture from a few old wood pallets. He has since added arm rests but I’m too lazy to walk outside and take a new photo:

diy pallet furniture - furniture made from pallets

They are really comfortable! Here’s Boo watching the sunset from her new chair:

diy pallet furniture - pallet patio furniture


The signs and posts at the inn were in need of a fresh coat of paint so he spent some of the week working on those to help the innkeepers out a bit as they prepare for their son’s wedding.





The rocking chairs are also looking a little tired and are in need of paint.  This little chair is over 35 years old:


I know that because of the photo my mother took of me in it when I was around 3:


Inspired by a bench at the Biltmore, he made me this:


These are just cows. Nothing to see here except that Brett took the photo. And I love these cows.


He found an old table and some barn wood and used it to make…..

rustic home decor ideas - reclaimed table to computer desk

This awesome skinny computer desk for me:

DIY rustic home decor ideas - reclaimed old table to computer desk

The desk today:

rustic flea market style computer desk - DIY project

He’s cut me lots and lots of wood to make things with. Like this “Mountain Dew” painting:

How to make a hand painted rustic sign


And these “Mr and Mrs” signs for the inn’s wedding coming up:

mr and mrs handpainted barn wood signs for rustic wedding

And just one more for today….this old sign was rotting on one side and ready for the dump.  I saw a little potential in it:


Brett cut it off and secured the remaining top pieces and now it hangs above our fireplace:

rustic industrial home decor

It feels good to get creative again.  I’ve been itching to do some painting again too and Brett has made me a ton of small wood pieces that are just sitting there waiting for me.  Now I just need the inspiration to hit.

I Can’t Say No To Jesus or Mayonnaise

I love finding little places like this:

I think everything in here came from my childhood home.

Stuff n Such Thrift Store Shopt in Whittier

I tend to show a lot of restraint when it comes to buying things but sometimes I cave when it comes to artwork….like when I saw this embroidered Jesus portrait.  Really, it wasn’t my fault…the “lion mane” hair hypnotized me:

Jesus Art and Vienna Sausage by The Crafty Cowboy

The Vienna Sausage painting that hangs above Jesus was a piece I picked up a few weeks ago.  I was in Gainesville and came across a disabled vet selling his paintings.  At first I was drawn to the Duke’s Mayonnaise clock…and then I got to know the artist and listened to his story and, well, I just ended up buying half his tent:

Artwork by The Crafty Cowboy

 The Crafty Cowboy

The mayonnaise clock hangs above my desk.  (I just realized I haven’t shared photos of how we’ve decorated our cottage yet….I’ll try to get to that!)

Mayonnaise Clock by The Crafty Cowboy

I figure I’m just building an amazing art collection to donate to the Getty or the MoMA one day.  I don’t even like mayonnaise…or Vienna Sausage.  But I do like Jesus. And he has a-may-zing hair.  It all evens out in the name of great art.

Oh, I also picked up these tiny “caution” cones for 25 cents.  The squirrels above our house have been pelting me with acorns. I confiscated one….not that it will make any difference to them.

acorns and cones

I wanted to buy these from a box on the side of the road but luckily another lady beat me to them:

puppies for sale in Bryson City

Just kidding. Diesel is an only dog.  But…Donna says there are miniature pot bellied pigs for sale nearby.  I’m going to have to take a look. Just a look.




The Casita Office Makeover

DIY office makeover ideas via #decor #office #diy #homedecor #organization #thrifting

I’d never heard of a “casita” before I moved to California. It’s a little detached guest room off the house.  Nice because if you don’t use it you can leave the air conditioning off and save money!  We turned ours into a sewing studio a few years ago but then we outgrew it and now it’s the official Lil Blue Boo office.

Here’s the before:

Office Makeover Re-decorating BEFORE via #decor #office #diy #homedecor #organization #thrifting

Office Makeover Re-decorating AFTER via #decor #office #diy #homedecor #organization #thrifting


I love how the neutral palette turned out.  I am still trying to figure out what kind of chairs I want to use….but they have to be comfortable!  This is my side of the office. It doesn’t get used a lot right now because I have my “dining room” office too: [Read more…]

How to Make Altered Thrift Store Pop Art

How to Make Altered Thrift Store Pop Art via


There’s nothing I love more than scooping up something that someone else doesn’t want anymore….and making it my own.  My friend was selling this HUGE dinosaur at her yard sale and I couldn’t resist.  I knew I’d either paint over it to reuse the canvas….or maybe change it up a bit.  Mr. LBB loved the dino but Boo thought it was too scary.  So I changed him up a bit to be more of a pop art dino!

Here’s the before:

thrift store painting BEFORE via #upcycled


The first thing I did was use a pencil and some acrylic paint to add polka dots….or pixelate the dino: [Read more…]

Recycled Tie Photo Album


How to make mini memory albums using upcycled ties (from my Dad's ties!) via #diy #tutorial #ties

It’s been almost two years since my dad passed away and I’ve been saving all of his ties to make something from.  I wanted to make something for my mom, sister and brother.  My dad’s ties represented so many different parts of his life….from special events to all of his favorite golf clubs and important tournaments he played in.   I came up with the idea of making a photo album using bits and pieces of each tie so that everyone would have a patch:


How to recycle old ties via


I added a little tag into the front of each album: Made from the neckties of Norman Virgil Swenson Jr., 1947 – 2011, “Golf’s Ultimate Gentleman”:

Alternative to memory bear via


Every tie reminds me of some part of my dad’s life….like the pretty blue tie he wore in my sister’s wedding:

Upcycle old ties to remember loved ones via


To make the albums I purchased simple 4″x6″ albums from the craft store:

Mini Photo Album via

Other supplies you may need: sew-on snaps, fusible interfacing, etc.

Here are the ties I used:

I even took the ribbon off of this belt to work the DeBordieu design into it. We used to own a house at DeBordieu beach when we were little….it’s where most of my childhood summers were spent:

Here’s how I made the albums…..they only took me a few hours with an assembly line:

Step 1: Cut apart the ties and press them flat with an iron. Add fusible (iron-on) interfacing to the back of each tie.  Begin cutting pieces of the ties into random angles and piece them together until you have a large enough piece to cut for the main piece of the album (approx. 11″ x 7.25″ for my album).  Iron all your seams open and flat. Apply fusible interfacing to the back of the finished patchwork.

how to make a kindle cover or photo album out of fabric via

Step 2: Cut the front of the album (approx. 11″ x 7.25″ for my album).  Cut two pieces (with fusible interfacing) for the front and back inside cover (approximately 5.5″ x 7.25″). If you would like a personalized tag in the front, create text and print onto iron-on transfer paper.

upcycled necktie photo album via

Step 3: Turn over the inside edge of each of the inside covers, iron flat and sew with a 1/4″ seam. For a tab closure, cut the end of a tie off and sew it to one side of the front to keep it in place as you assemble the rest of your album cover.  Finish the top and bottom edge of the front cover with a serger or zig zag stitch.

how to make a fabric covered photo album using ties via

Step 4: Lay the two inside cover pieces onto the top of the outside cover piece and sew the seams using a 1/4″ seam.  Your album covers should look like the ones in the 2nd photo below.  Use some fusible web or a few pins to secure your “tag” to the inside front cover and stitch it into place.

how to make a photo album from ties via

Step 5:  Stitch the top and bottom seams of the cover as shown in the first photo with a 1/4″ seam.  Carefully trim your corners and turn the cover right side out using a small pencil or stick to push out the corners.  Sew your snaps into place on the “tab” and the cover”.

how to make a photo album cover via


Your finished album! Use an iron to carefully press the piece flat.

how to make a handmade photo album via

Everyone that opens these albums will know where the ties came from….it makes a nice family hierloom.

tie wallet diy or photo album diy via

They all look so pretty together:

how to make a tie wallet or photo album via

I know that Boo will love keeping ours forever and probably pass it down to her children:

upcycled clothing via

I love the idea of “memory” bears….but this is a great way to make something for the whole family:

repurposing mens ties via

[Read more…]

Turning Old Books and Papers into Doilies


Turning Old Books and Papers into Doilies (the Circle Edge Punch) via #diy #doily #marthastewart


I recently had the chance to try out a new product that Martha Stewart Crafts is introducing…..the Circle Edge Punch!

The Circle Edge Punch by Martha Stewart Crafts via

I knew exactly what I’d do with it the second I got it. I have so many old books, magazines and vintage papers stacking up…..calling my name for a project…..and I used them to make these little themes doily packs for a crafty hostess-type gift:

Doily Project Ideas via #diy #doily #marthastewart


Each packet is completely different and one of a kind.  I think I would snatch them right up if I saw them in a store:

How to make your own doilies via #diy #doily #marthastewart

First, I gathered some old art books:

Things to make with old books via #diy #recycled #upcycled

I have so many “bargain” picture art books just ready to be made into something:

Recycled Book Project Ideas via

Not to mention vintage maps, papers and sheet music:

Recycled MAP Project Ideas via

I think I am officially a hoarder for keeping all these vintage magazine ads:

Book Pages Project Ideas via

The Circle Edge Punch is ready to go right out of the box and the best part about it is that there is no pre-cutting of paper necessary. It punches a continuous, die-cut border in 7 different sizes for paper up to 12 inches:

What to make with the Circle Edge Punch via #diy #doily #marthastewart


The Circle Edge Punch just trims the paper as you punch:

Things to make with maps via #diy #doily #marthastewart

Here are a few examples of the doily packets I made:

Vintage magazine ads:

Vintage Magazine Doilies via

Sheet music:

Sheet music project idea via

Pages from an old Calder art book….these are definitely my favorite! Lithograph doilies!

How to recycle old art books idea via

Pages from a Michelangelo art book:

How to make your own doilies via #diy #doily #marthastewart

Art by the Japanese artist Hokusai:

Origami project ideas via #diy #doily #marthastewart

Pages from children’s books and magazines…..these would be great for a themed party….like punching out an Olivia book!

Recycled children's book ideas via #diy #recycled

Vintage map doilies:

Recycled map ideas via #diy #recycled

Yes I did a TON of punching. Here’s a quick tip….use aluminum foil to sharpen your scrapbook and craft punches!

How to sharpen scrapbook punches via

After all of my doilies were punched, I placed them in plastic sleeves:

Packaging ideas via

I used the same paper as the doilies to make little tent cards to cover the bag opening:

Unique Packaging ideas via

The folded tent cards are just stapled shut over the bag opening:

Staple vintage paper for packaging ideas via


Love how whimsical the children’s book pages turned out:

Children's birthday party favor ideas via

Each pack is completely unique:

Children's birthday party favor ideas via

They can be used for so many projects.  Great as a gift:

Hostess Gift Ideas via

The vintage ads are great for the nostalgic friend:

Handmade Gift Ideas via

The Calder doilies would definitely be appreciated by an art lover:

Handmade Gift Ideas via

And who doesn’t love vintage maps?!

Recycled Project Ideas vial


Don’t they all look pretty together?

Handmade Gift Ideas for the Holidays via


What would you do with them?

Crafty Gift Ideas for the Crafter or DIYer via

What would you make with the Circle Edge Punch?
The Circle Edge Punch by Martha Stewart Crafts via



DIY Suede Fringe Handbag

DIY Upcycled Suede Fringe Handbag Tutorial and Template via

I see so much suede at the thrift store….I have a few jackets, a skirt, a few pairs of pants….it’s all outdated and just waiting to be cut up and made into something amazing. Here’s my first suede remake project……an old pair of suede pants and a thrift store belt into a fringe handbag. It was actually a fairly easy project. The key is to not cut the fringe until the handbag is finished. If you can’t find suede at the store you can also check Etsy and Ebay for remnants. You can also use leather or microfiber. Here are the original pants:

Original Suede Pants via

And here is the finished bag: [Read more…]