Easy Graham Cracker “Gingerbread” Houses

Gingerbread houses a cute and fun to decorate.  However, here is a quick and easy way to make a “gingerbread” house.  My daughter, her husband and I made these easy graham cracker houses about two years ago.  I loved them so much I actually sprayed each of them with a clear coat of shellac-type spray paint to try to seal them so I could keep them for many years!  We were not planning on eating them so we cheated a little and hot-glued the graham crackers together first and then had fun decorating them with royal icing and many different kinds of candies and marshmallows.  I think they turned out super cute and it only took about two hours total to make them.   It was fun to see how we each put our individual touches on our houses.

Last year I displayed them on my coffee table and this year they are on my kitchen countertop.

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How to Create a Simple Christmas Coffee Bar

Do you entertain guests during the holidays?  What better way to have guests be able to help themselves to a cup of coffee or hot chocolate than with a coffee bar?  This season I decided to create my own Christmas coffee bar for guests (and let’s be real, for ME to enjoy too!).  It has been so fun coming up with ideas and making sure it was cute and functional.  If you are French Press or only brewed coffee person, you may want to close your eyes!  This is for those that like a quick “Cup O’ Joe.”

Every coffee bar has to have some cups and since it is the holidays, why not get cute “Christmasy” ones?  I found these cute mugs at Pier 1 Imports.

However, you can also find cute, cheaper mugs if you keep your eyes out at the Dollar Store – – like these!

I found this three-tiered stand at Homegoods ($29) to put all the cups and supplies on.  I added some green pine sprigs for a holiday touch on each tier.  I found the plaid runner at Ross for about $8.  Check out my last blog on how to make the coffee bar sign.

Of course, the quickest and easiest way to get a hot cup of coffee is with a Keurig machine or some similar machine.  My friend bought me this Cuisinart coffee maker as a gift to replace my older Keurig that was black.  It holds 72 ounces of water so you are not always refilling the reservoir.

It is handy to have all the K-Cups available but out of sight so I picked up this storage drawer at Big Lots for $15.  The coffeemaker sits on top of it and stores all the supplies which are easily accessible by pulling out the drawer which holds 36 cups!  I have some ideas for making it lighter (instead of black) down the road but that will have to wait until after the holidays.

For those who don’t drink coffee or tea, I also included a hot cocoa stand with a couple flavors of cocoa packs in a little wooden box.  The sign is from Hobby Lobby.

On the top tier of the stand, I put sugars, spices and other fun toppings.

Next to the coffee machine, I needed to have a place to put the used K-Cups so I got this small, tin bucket at Hobby Lobby.

Here is my final coffee bar for the season. I am thinking of keeping it up even after the holidays and just using my regular cups and a non-holiday runner.

Are you ready to create your own coffee bar?

 

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How to Make Farmhouse Charger Plates

Over the past several months I’ve been hunting for some ornate charger plates that don’t cost a fortune that would work well in my dining room.  After all, anyone who watches Fixer Upper on HGTV knows that Joanna Gaines always sets the table with charger plates, cloth napkins and a sprig of something earthy.  I have seen chargers on-line that are outrageously expensive and this thrifty girl knew there was an inexpensive way to get the look I was wanting.  These chargers from Amazon.com are $15 each!

I saw a Pinterest idea of  collecting silver-plated round trays and painting them to use as chargers so I started hunting for just them.  Unfortunately, I have only been able to find about three over the past several months hunting thrift stores and garage sales.

This morning while browsing around our local Goodwill store I came across these red plastic chargers.  There were six of them which is exactly what I needed.  They were only .99 each so I grabbed them knowing I had a project ahead to make them fit into any season, not just Christmas or Valentines Day.   I like to keep my dining room table “set” (staged) and I really needed some chargers to complete the look.  I liked the scalloped edges even though I really want something a little more ornate down the road.  I figured these would work at least as temporary chargers with a little work.  Ok, they don’t look very “farmhouse” or French country… YET!

After washing them, I put my drop cloth over my counter and stove and got some chalk paint out that I had used in a previous project.

The paint I used was sort of Paris gray/taupe color.  I just used a small paintbrush and started painting each one with a thin coat to cover the chargers.

This is how they looked while drying after one coat of chalk paint.

After a second coat was dry, here was the result.

I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do next but just decided to rub some lighter paint on the edges with my finger (see photo below).  Project FAIL!  I didn’t like the look.  It looked like a little kid had painted on the edges and it looked messy.  I had to repaint that one and come up with a new plan.

I always think that a dry-brushed paint job comes out the best.  It looks rustic, old and farmhouse chic.  Perfect!  I dry-brushed each charger and let them dry.  (Dry-brushing is when you dip the tip of the paint brush in the paint and then wipe off most of it with a damp rag before dragging is across whatever you are working on.  After that step, I put on two coats of Polycrylic to seal the paint because chalk paint always needs to be sealed to prevent the paint from chipping.

The whole project only cost me the $6 (for the chargers) because I already had the other supplies in my stash.

 

This was an easy project that only took a couple hours (because of drying time) to finish.

I’m loving the new addition to the table.  I guess I should put some flatware on it now but I feel like it is a Practically Palm Beach success story now.

 

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From Bombay to “Fixer Upper”

From time to time I find just the right thing I’m looking for.  This summer I found a pair of matching Bombay dark wood nightstands on a Facebook selling site in our area for only $40/both.  Finding solid wood nightstands for that price was a steal!  I had been searching for some nightstands for some family and these two Bombay nightstands were just the right height and size for their “Fixer Upper” style master bedroom which I was helping to decorate.  Keep in mind that no matter what the color of a piece of furniture is, it can always be changed to something else.  Don’t let any color keep you from buying it.

I forgot to take a before photo so this is one of them while I was taking out the drawers to paint them.  The wood is very dark and the pieces are actually from the Bombay store (if you remember that store that used to be around).

They also have this cool pull-out shelf at the top.  What the heck is that for anyway?

After removing all the drawers and hardware, I washed it down with a damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt.

I bought some white chalk paint from Home Depot and started the painting with a brush.  Here is what it looks like with just one coat of chalk paint.  I found Home Depot’s chalk paint a little harder to paint with than Lowe’s paint.  However, they now seem to have the same paint which I was not happy about.  Lowes had a very nice paint this summer that was a lot more “chalky” and painted on easier.  Now their paints seem to be very similar and I miss the former mix.   This piece actually ended up taking about 4-5 coats to cover up the dark wood.  You have to be patient and determined when you are changing something this dark to white!  Just stay at it!

I sanded with a fine grit sanding block in between coats (well, after most of the coats) and got off the dust each time to get a smoother finish. I actually used my vacuum hose with an upholstery brush to get off the sanding dust.  I also lightly sanded the edges for a distressed look.  I dry-brushed the hardware as well to cover some of the brassy finish.

Then I coated it with my favorite Polyacrylic clear coat to protect the paint job.

The room is coming together and these two nightstands were the perfect size to fit in this master bedroom.

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Yard Sale Ornate Mirror Makeover

As an avid yard sale shopper, I look for unique things that I can envision fitting into a space in my home and sometimes other people’s homes.  This large, ornate gold mirror was one of those things I almost passed on but then decided that for $20 it was too great and took it home.  The frame was PLASTIC!  But then, who cares??  It’s pretty!  Of course, if you have been following me at all since I started this blog, you will know that I paint a lot!  Most items will get a new look with just a little white paint.

I looked around my house and couldn’t find a spot to put this mirror but at the time I got it, my son and his wife were purchasing a new home and I knew the perfect spot for it.  Out comes the white paint from the stash in the garage and the transformation begins.

First, I completely covered the frame with a couple coats of satin white paint from Lowes.  You could use any color but I’m in a white mode right now.  Then after it was dry, I took a small piece of sandpaper and lightly “distressed” some of the detail.  This gives it just more of worn, older look and allows some of the gold to show through as in the photo below.

When I was finished, I brought the mirror over and hung it in their dining room.  It was the perfect place and reflects the light and crystals in the chandelier.

Don’t you just love their elegant French Chic dining room?!!

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Cultivating My Inner Mermaid

I’m a self-proclaimed beach lover/mermaid.  Well, that may be a little stretch on the mermaid but I do love the ocean.  I love the sand between my toes and the warm, summer water of the Atlantic Ocean.  I live in south Florida and spend as much time as I can at the beach.  It refreshes my soul and I seem to talk to God at the beach more than at any other place.  There’s just something that it does to me.

I feel especially blessed because this month my husband and I rented a place on the beach for the entire month on Hutchinson Island which might be one of the most beautiful places on earth.  It’s amazing waking up every morning to this view from the 7th floor.  We were pleasantly surprised at how affordable it was to stay here an entire month, although you have to be out there looking to find a place that you can rent for just one month.  We used to spend half of the rent cost just coming up for a couple weekends staying at a hotel.  An entire month of this is so relaxing as we can settle in with our clothes out of suitcases and into drawers and the closet.

Every day is different at the beach.  Our first day here the waves were churning up seaweed as seen in the photo below.  I wasn’t crazy about the seaweed but from up here, the view was still spectacular.

A few days into our month stay, the beach is beautiful, calm and cleaner.  We watched dolphins swim by tonight.

The turquoise blue ocean is so pretty that I can’t stop taking photos of it.  We are going to check out all the local restaurants and vowed to not eat at one chain restaurant the whole time we are here.  I’ll blog about some of those spots.

We did check out the Square Grouper on the Fort Pierce Inlet but didn’t eat there yet.  We also stopped by Archies in Fort Pierce to grab a menu for a later date.

Square Grouper, Fort Pierce

We are now one week into our beach adventure and enjoying every moment!  I hope you are all having a great summer and enjoying some sunshine somewhere.

 

 

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Creating Distressed Shabby Chic Treasures

Any piece of wood furniture can be painted and distressed into a gorgeous shabby chic treasure.  The more detail it has the better it will turn out.  I recently saw this solid wood table at our local Goodwill store for $39 plus tax.  I contemplated walking away as I knew I would have to take a paintbrush to it and turn it white.  The other thing was that I don’t have a place to put it in my house.  Painting something with all the other projects I have to do just didn’t seem like a good idea but I just couldn’t walk away without it.  It was just a treasure for $39.

So here it is getting a coat of Kilz primer.  I had to do most of this piece with a brush since it had so much detail.  I used a sponge roller on the top only.  

After the primer was dry, I ended up doing about 4 coats of white latex paint!  This dark brown wood is very hard to cover, but I was persistent and here it is all white.  The detailing on this piece is so beautiful and I love how the white freshens it up!

The next step is distressing.  Simply take a 100 grit piece of sandpaper and lightly sand until some of the paint starts coming off the embossed areas.  You can sand any area that sticks out and would show wear if it was actually an old piece.  This technique works perfect on a dark wood piece because the dark wood peeks through just like it is supposed to.

 

 

 

Last, I put on a coat of Polyacrylic with a brush to seal and protect the paint job.  What do you think?

This cute piece will go over to my my daughter-in-law and son’s place and will be perfect next to their front door.

Here is it pictured a house by the front door at their house.  SO CUTE!  It’s Practically Palm Beach!

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Palm Beach Sparkles with a Thrifty Crystal Chandelier

 

Do you still have the builder-grade fixtures in your home?  Old, outdated fixtures are one of the first things people notice when they come into your home.  However, picking the lighting for your house can be challenging and expensive.  I tend to love some glamour in my house and the perfect thing to add was a pretty chandelier.

Below is the fixture from Home Depot that I put up 11 years ago when we moved into our house.  Although it’s not totally outdated, I wanted something with more sparkle.  I had attempted to add some “bling” by adding some crystals to the bottom of it, but it was definitely time for a change to add some more glamour.  But my question was, “Can I really afford one?”

BEFORE New Lighting

I started the search for a fixture.  I went to Capitol Lighting, Home Depot and Lowes (all the typical places to find fixtures).  First of all, I knew the prices at Capitol Lighting would be high but WOW I wasn’t expecting those price tags.  They are quality and you pay for that with about $1200 and up!  Anyway, that place was definitely out of my Practically Palm Beach budget but I still wanted a crystal chandelier that wasn’t whimpy in size. I checked the box stores but just did not like anything.

I discovered this one below on Amazon.com.  Although it doesn’t have authentic Swarovski crystals, I thought I’d order it and give it a try since the reviews were fantastic on it.  I couldn’t believe the low price of $159!

I ordered this Amazon chandelier and it arrived quickly.  I am blessed to have a husband that can put up light fixtures so the process began.  He had to literally build the fixture with the detailed instructions.  Here are some photos from the process where we put out all the pieces on the dining table.  All the bubblewrap below contained the millions of crystals that would later make me want to hire someone to finish hanging them.  It took some sorting and guessing to get them all on.  We also ordered a large medallion from Amazon to put on the ceiling.  Every chandelier must have a medallion in my opinion.

The first step was to turn off the breaker for that area and remove the old fixture.  Then we attached the medallion that I had already painted a few days before to the ceiling with two screws.  Since I had the white paint that I used to paint it, touching up the screws would be easy.  We have put up enough medallions over the years that we have learned it’s easiest to attach it to the ceiling before trying to hang the light fixture.

Hanging a chandelier is much easier with two people so we worked as a team on two ladders while my husband attached all the wires and attached it completely.  Below is the chandelier early in the process when I was trying to figure out how to hang all the crystals since the directions were not the best.  I think it actually took me about 5 hours to get them all on correctly!  It’s very tedious work but worth it in the end.

After attaching all the crystals, here is the chandelier.  I also added a chain cover (also from Amazon) which is a bit long so I’ll probably shorten it a bit eventually.

After it was all put together, I’m really happy with the look and all the sparkle it added to the room.  When the sun shines through the window, it creates a lot of little prisms around the room too.  For only $159 plus a medallion, I think it’s definitely “Practically Palm Beach!”

Did someone say “Beach?”!!!!!!

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Why I Love White Dishes!

White dishes have been one of my obsessions for many years.  The reason I love them is they go with every season, event and holiday and you only have to have one set to store.  I have to admit that a great friend (you, Jennifer M.) shared this great tip with me over a decade ago and it just stuck with me.  You can simply add the colors of whatever season it happens to be to the table.  It is such a nice blank slate to start with and any color you pick works with them.  Forget storing many different sets for all the different holidays.  White is just more “practical”!

Pinterest Photo
Pinterest Photo

 

If you are a thrifty person like I am, you also probably keep an eye out for interesting dishes like the ones in the Pinterest photos here.

 

 

 

 

When I am at a thrift store or a garage sale, I am always looking for pretty white dishes.  In fact, my main every day plates were found (as a set with coffee cups, smaller plates, etc.) at a yard sale for $15 for the entire set (stack in front in photo).  I didn’t take the entire set out of the cabinets for the photo  – – sorry!  I’m not a fan of heavy plates so these cute lighter china plates are just perfect.

Recently, while shopping at Goodwill I found a second set of some cute IKEA white plates for about .69 each so I just couldn’t resist.  They are the ones in the back right in the photo.  I have to admit that after I got them home, I discovered they don’t fit in my dishwasher so they will have to be handwashed when I use them.  I guess the Swedes either don’t use dishwashers like Americans or maybe it’s just my dishwasher rack.  Anyway, I still love them and they could easily be mixed and matched with my other dishes when I need extras.

This little white tea set was my husband’s mother’s set.  Isn’t it just adorable?  I know it means a lot to my husband that I saved it all these years even though I never knew his mother before she passed away.  It rarely gets used but it is fun to have just as white decor.

I have actually sold of some of my white dishes recently because I just didn’t need that many pieces!  I’m fortunate that I live in an area that it is fairly easy to find a buyer for items that I really don’t need using Facebook Swip Swap sites.

I also sold this creamer/sugar set (didn’t need two sugar/creamer sets) and this Pottery Barn plate set (below) that I deemed too heavy after a few years of using it.  SOLD!

 

I’m almost embarrassed to say that even after purging my kitchen cabinets this year, I still have more white plates than I need.  Truthfully, I am sort of crazy about organizing my kitchen cabinets and keep all the white items in one space just for a nice consistent, organized look (see photo below).

I will try to remember to snap some photos of various holiday settings in the future and share them on a blog someday.

I think I am really needing a beach day soon…see ya!

 

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Creating a French Look with Thrift Store Chairs

Right now I am loving the French style of decorating for my home.  Maybe it’s a phase, but I have been in it for quite a while.  It’s classic and classy.  For the past year I have been searching for different dining room chairs in that style.   The real problem was I had perfectly fine dark wood chairs already, but ever since I fell in love with this particular style, the dark brown dining chairs I had just did not seem to work with that French style I wanted.  My chairs in the photo below were purchased from a local Havertys with a dark expresso square table when we first moved into the house. I decided that I really only needed six chairs and started my hunt even more seriously at the beginning of 2017.

I searched on-line for six cute French style dining chairs in this rounded back style for quite some time, but was determined to find some used ones instead of spending a lot of money.  The thrifty part of me could not spend $1200 for six new chairs from Amazon.com that I found.   After all, I already had eight perfectly functional chairs to go with my round dining table I had found at a thrift store for only $10!  (Another one of my fantastic finds.)

Restoration Hardware Chair $419 and up!

The chair pictured above from Restoration Hardware starts at $419 for one chair!  I can tell you this “thrifty girl” can’t do that price.  So the hunt was on!

Homegoods Chair $129

I scoped Homegoods and TJ Maxx but they never had six of the same style chairs in the store – – AND they were still $129 each which was beyond my thrifty budget.  I even diligently searched Craigslist every day for something similar that I could paint or fix and just wasn’t having any success finding French chairs.

Then one day early in 2017 I remembered it was 25% off day at my favorite thrift store and decided to take the 30 minute drive there.  I wandered through the store looking inside and outside. After almost giving up and heading to the car, I decided to take one more look inside and there they were.  Six chairs in the exact same style I was looking for!  I couldn’t believe it.  I noticed the price was $199 for the six chairs plus an ugly glass table that was just randomly paired with them. With the 25% discount, I decided this was too perfect.  Score!  These chairs were going home with me as they were the perfect style.  I knew they had possibilities and were sturdy and in good condition.  The glass table however was donated back to the store and left there.

Thrift Store – Good Bones!

Now we had to find a way to get these home since we figured not all of them would fit into our SUV that already had the side chair I also just found there (see photo below).  It also had great “bones” and it was only $45 so I had to get it.  I will probably do a makeover on this one eventually but now back to the dining chairs.

We planned to come back with two SUVs and pick it all up but then decided – – let’s just strap them to the top.  Why not? That’s what that rack was put on the top for right? Here is the guy helping us load everything up.  I had to get over feeling like “Sanford and Son” a long time ago with all the furniture I have lugged home on the top of my car over the years.

Tying down the hatch!
Had to put a couple on top of the car too!

Although the style of the chairs were perfect, I had plans to change the color just a bit.  I couldn’t be more excited about how they changed the style of my dining room and only cost me what almost one chair would have cost me.  Here is how they looked when I got them in the door and put them around my table.  It was instantly French and much lighter in the dining room!  Some may say it was a lucky find, but I say I was blessed because they were so perfect.

Just home from the thrift store

I loved the new look but the color of the frame was a little too “light oak” for me and did not match the top of my faux-painted tabletop.  Brushing on a basecoat of gray chalk paint was the first step.  This just happened to be a color that I had used on some other furniture I had painted so I just used it as the base color to give it more of a gray tone.  Lowes mixes any color you want in their version of chalk paint so you can do any color you like.

After it was dry, I then took some white latex paint I already had in the garage and “dry-brushed” it on to create an old worn look.  I also painted the caning on the back to change the yellow to more of a white color (on left in photo).  Next I sealed the wood parts with my Polycrylic sealer and a paintbrush.

Notice how much whiter the back is after painting over the yellow.

I decided to leave the fabric on the seats for now because it was a nice light neutral color.

The chair on the left is before chalk painting and the one on right is after the process.

Before and After

                                                     

I sold the eight dark chairs on-line and actually the new chairs didn’t cost me anything in the end.  I even had money left over after selling them.  The perfectionist in me knows I will someday lighten the outside edge of the chair backs and legs even more to make them more white and cover even more of the gray but I love the chairs and the new lighter French look.

Another project done!  It’s sea and sand time again.

 

 

 

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