Christmas · DIY · Home

Oh Christmas Tree!

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

I sing this in my head about 800 times each day. Sometimes, I mean it, and I’m rejoicing in the fun and excitement of the Christmas season.

But I also sing it in my head with a heavy side of sarcasm when the kids are arguing over who gets to hang which ornament on the tree or the woman in front of me at check out is angry with the cashier or when we’re running late for school because someone decided to reread ALL the Christmas books instead of brushing his teeth.

My Christmas tree project for this year is a combination of both, the rejoicing and the sarcasm. But mostly rejoicing.

Elf and Christmas Tree

Confession: We have a fake tree. I grew up with a fake tree, Husband grew up with a fake tree, it’s normal for us. Where we live, we are an anomaly. A favorite outing for most people this time of year is the trek to the local (or even not-so-local, in the mountains) tree farm to cut your own tree and bring it home. We did this for several years, but some Christmases we spend here at home and some we don’t, and it’s hard to buy a tree knowing that you won’t even be enjoying it on Christmas Day, and it will just be a pile of dead needles when you return from a cross-country flight, exhausted, with two exhausted children. So last year, we bit the bullet and bought a lovely pre-lit tree from Lowe’s. And we love it. (Especially the glow it gives while we watch Christmas movies snuggled up on the couch.)

But I had a plan for this year, a “VISION”. (Because, another confession: I had to wash our tree skirt multiple times last year because our kitty in her old age, mistook it for her litter box.) (Rest in peace, Molly.)

Playful Country Christmas Tree | Photographer Stacey Brandford | House & Home | #christmastree #redandgreen #holidaydecor:

I knew this would work. And then I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head. It’s so cute.

I measured our tree stand and searched online for a galvanized tub that would accommodate its diameter.

Wow! That’s almost as much as our tree cost.

So I did what I always do – I added it to my Thrift Wish-List.

In November, I still hadn’t found one, but then I looked out my back window to see an old galvanized tub the previous owners of our home had left behind. (The kids lovingly refer to it at the Black Widow Bucket – for good reason!) How had I missed that before?

galvanized tub

So I sprayed and cleaned until there was not a trace of dirt or scary living creatures left and brought it in the house to test.

The diameter was about 2 inches too small for the base. Bummer!

BUT! I had another plan.


I had seen this idea on Pinterest last year, too. I told Husband I just needed to find a chopped down tree trunk! How hard would that be?

Husband said, “How about all those cut pieces that are in that yard down the street?”

Me: “What are you talking about?”

Husband: “I bike by them every day on the way to work. Between here and the grocery store. You haven’t noticed them?”

Me: “No, I haven’t noticed them. Are you making this up? When did you see them?”

Husband: “This morning on the way to work.”

Me: “Wait, are you actually ENABLING me to tackle a new crazy idea?”

Husband: “Totally. You should do it.” (Sarcasm here.)

So I did! I drove until I saw the wood, stopped the car, unloaded the kids, and knocked on the door. The international student who answered the door was very kind. He said he didn’t know what the plan was for all the wood, but he would ask the owner and I could stop by the next day. Then he asked why I wanted it. I laughed and explained my crazy Christmas tree plan. He got a huge grin and said, “That is a great idea!” When I stopped by the next day, he said I was welcome to as much as I needed, and he wished me good luck on my project.

Completion of this project required buying a paddle bit for our drill and lots of time. Drilling out a 1.5 inch hole in a tree trunk is not an easy task. Husband and the kids took turns drilling and measuring (and recharging the drill battery) until the hole was 6 inches deep. It fit perfectly the first time! (Rejoicing here!)

fake christmas tree real wood base

We put the wood inside the tub and placed the tree inside the wood, and my “VISION” came to life!

christmas tree galvanized tub

The kids were thrilled because we could finally decorate the tree (it had been up and lit without ornaments for a week while I figured out the final plan). They went crazy putting up the ornaments (and arguing, see above).

Elvis christmas ornament

They were excited to see the Elvis ball return this year.

This lovely ornament was part of our tree every year growing up. And every year, my brothers and I would take turns hiding the Elvis ball because we were so embarrassed by it. My mom would say, “You won’t believe this, but I found the Elvis ball on the back of the tree at the very bottom. Do you know how it got there?” It would return to the front, but it only took a few hours for it to disappear again. Last year, as my mom was decorating her tree, she called to ask if there were any of her ornaments that I wanted. I, of course, said this one. She was shocked. “After all that time you spent hiding it?” Oh yes.

And, after receiving it in the mail, I, like any good sister, immediately posted a photo on Facebook, tagging my brothers to let them know it was mine. One said, “The only thing I wanted out of that house, and of course you get it.” Some things never change.

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

christmas tree galvanized tub



back porch · DIY · Home

Back Porch Tables

back porch table wine

Aaaaahhhhh! Can we go back to the weekend?

It’s Colombus Day, and while that might be a holiday where you are, it’s not really here on the West Coast. The kids have school, most people are working, it’s just a regular Monday. But if it were a holiday, I’d be here on my back porch, sipping wine with a new book.

I have a project today that might be a little late in the season, but for us in Northern California, it’s the perfect time of year to head back outside. The 100 degree days are over (PLEASE?!), and the evenings are just lovely. We’re back to enjoying dinners on the porch and Saturday afternoon naps on the daybed.

vintage trash cans

My project today started here. Rough looking vintage trash cans. The kind you had in your school growing up. I got these beauties for FREE at a local surplus store. (They’re super similar to these at Schoolhouse Electric. See, Husband? What a deal! I can’t imagine why anyone would want to give these away! Rust? Pfffft.) There were at least 30 of them up for grabs. I nabbed 6 with no real plan, but I brought them home and immediately spray painted them white.

Now, I know I have some crazy ideas. Husband usually just goes along with them and often helps out, especially with the painting. I’m waiting for the day when he puts his foot down and declares, “No! You may not bring that (insert random free item I drag off the curb and load into my car) into our house.” So far, he humors me (see “free” shutter). For this, I am very grateful.

instagram trashcan

I posted this photo to Instagram over the weekend, seeing if anyone had any guesses as to what I was working on. Surprise – no one guessed A TABLE! (My brother guessed an oil pan.)round table tops

I picked up these two pre-cut wood rounds at Home Depot and this 8′ rectangular wooden dowel (1/2′ x 3/4″) at our local hardware shop. My plan was to cut the dowel into smaller pieces to attach to the bottom of the wood rounds. The dowels would slide into the bottom lip of the trash cans and keep the tabletops from moving around.


This required finding the center of the circle. My high school geometry has escaped me (formulas have been replaced with Dan Zanes lyrics), so I googled to get the true method, involving chords and perpendicular lines (where’s a compass when you need one?). Husband (the engineer!) preferred to eyeball it. Between the two of  us, we had a reasonable point we both liked.


After measuring the diameter of the bottom of the trash can, I cut the dowel into one long piece of wood the length of the diameter (10″) and two smaller pieces of wood equal to 1/2 the diameter minus the width of the dowel (4.5″). Confused?

table top sketch


Here’s a drawing to explain. The outer circle is the wood round, the inner circle is the measurement of the inside of the trashcan lip. The wooden dowel crossbar will slide into the lip and hold the tabletop securely in place.

Confession: it wasn’t completely secure the first time, even though my measurements were VERY accurate. It’s pretty hard to saw exactly (we have VERY basic tools), and I wanted the crossbars to fit tightly in the bottom of the trashcans so they wouldn’t move at all. Husband helped me position the crossbars to make it just right.


After screwing the dowels into place on both wood rounds, we spray painted them the same color as the newly painted trashcans.

spray can gun

I got to use my super cool spray can gun attachment. You just slide it onto the can and squeeze the trigger. Game changer.


And miraculously, the tabletops fit perfectly. You can even pick the tables up by the wood rounds, they are so secure. (Thanks, Husband!)


I originally looked at garden stools to serve the table purposes, but I had a hard time justifying the price, especially when we have kids under 8. I think I would cry if one of those lovely porcelain beauties were shattered on our brick.


So for now, vintage trashcans with a wooden tops works just fine.

back porch

After we were finished, I asked Husband, “Do you really dislike them?”

“Well, I don’t like them, but I don’t dislike them, either.”

That’s a start.

DIY · Good to Know · Home · Thrifts

Simple Bed Hack


We’re back to our regular routine after a fun Labor Day! While I was not laboring away at any projects yesterday (and I hope you weren’t, either), I wanted to share a recent project we finished with a simple solution to a common secondhand furniture problem.

But first, a confession:

I had WAY more photos to show of this project, I’m absolutely certain, but I must have deleted them because I cannot find them anywhere. So you’re going to have to use your imagination.

Picture it. A thrift store. Loads of old furniture piled up outside on the front lawn. Bins of $1 jeans and luggage and SO MANY sets of golf clubs. Off to the side are two headboard and footboard sets. I’ve been wanting to find a set for BB’s room for several months. Ever since BG moved to a Big Girl bed (which is an antique full-sized bed that’s been in Husband’s family for years and years), BB has been a little envious. It might be the size of the bed, but it also might be the fact that she has an actual piece of furniture for a bed and not just a twin mattress and box springs on top of a metal frame. (But don’t feel bad for him – for well over a year, his was the only room that had been repainted in our whole house. Give and take here, people.)

So I checked out both of the headboards and decided on simple ones with turned finials, painted that deep forest green that was popular in the late 80s/early 90s. Before checking out, I didn’t think about the fact that they were missing the side rails, two pieces vital to assembling a bed. At $10, they were a bargain, and I was sure it would be easy to paint the headboard and footboard and add them to BB’s room.  (I also picked up a great vintage desk for his room for $10 at the same thrift store. You should have seen how creative I got trying to get all of these pieces into the back of my little Honda CR-V – folding down the back seats, taking out car seats, removing the desk drawers. But the furniture and I all made it home safe and sound. Aside from that one time I slammed on the brakes and one of the drawers fell out and it sounded like a bomb went off and my heart stopped beating for approximately 4 seconds.)

thrift store headboard

Oh, hey! I just found this one photo of the bed on my phone. Behind it to the left is the desk I also ended up buying. I know it looks weird – I think it had been stripped and sanded but never refinished. Even though it’s old, it’s very sturdy, and I knew a coat of paint would transform it. I snapped this picture, thinking I would text it to Husband to get his opinion before I purchased. (I didn’t.)

Now, Husband is not always super excited when new furniture shows up unexpectedly at our house. (Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C. Let’s just stop there for the sake of time.) But this time, he and BB got to work right away painting all of the new furniture. I DIDN’T EVEN ASK THEM TO! (I know there were pictures of this. I wanted to document my gratitude.) And I was sure it would only be a matter of hours before we could attach the headboard and footboard to BB’s bed frame. So easy.


That doesn’t really work at all. Especially when the mattress just hangs off of the end of the metal bed frame (like this one) – no way to attach the footobard.

So it was time to get creative.


We headed to the hardware store to pick up two 1x6s to make our own side rails. We didn’t really even pay much attention to the wood, although looking at photos now, I would have been more careful about knot holes. But no big deal.


We used these brackets to attach the boards to each side of the headboard and footboard.

Note: Make sure you measure the width of the headboard post to make sure you get brackets that don’t hang over the edge when they are attached. And make sure you use screws that aren’t longer than the thickness of the board or they will stick out on the outside of the bed.

Not that we did that the first time. Nope. We are so careful when we plan these things out. Always.


Four correct brackets later, and we have a bed frame. As in, it literally frames out the freestanding bed. We just lift it up on one side and slide the metal bed frame with mattress and box springs under it. It is not attached to the bed in any way, but it fits pretty snuggly and doesn’t really move around much.

Originally, we didn’t paint the wood on the side because we thought it wouldn’t show if we put the bedskirt over it.


But after a few weeks of seeing the wood rails peeking out at the top of the bed, I went back and painted them. And I liked how it looked so much, I tucked the bedskirt underneath and left the wood showing.



You can see my “Sunshine” canvas peeking out in the corner of the picture above, as well as a Monterey picture BB picked up at a rummage sale a couple of years ago. (Like mama, like son, I suppose.)


(See more of that giant Tennessee Football sign here.)


And here’s the desk Husband and BB painted. We used Clark+Kensington’s Smokey Eyes for both the bed and the desk. (It was leftover from painting our den, and it was a perfect complement to his orange walls.)


I spent the better part of a Saturday looking for just the right drawer pulls to replace these, but I ended up keeping the originals.


They appear to have been painted multiple times (I see black, cream, and a minty green), but I like how they look against the gray.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one, too.