Recycled Art in Oceanside

Recycled ocean artThis recycled art fish, is one of my favorite finds in my spare time.  I love most things with an ocean influence, great color and it’s also entirely made from found objects! The artist is Rodney “Rodrigo” McCoubroy, a self-described environmental folk artist. You can see more of his gallery inspired by the many objects he finds at Rodrigo’s recycled art. It was also within my “art” budget.  By art budget I mean I could afford something original without saving up a few paychecks.

I really do get excited seeing recycled objects given a new life in an entirely new way. If that new life ends up as art I’m even more crazy for it. I think it takes quite a bit of talent to make something that was a throw away, into something that looks amazing, fabulous and unique! Any doubts about my love for reviving items? See my post on the  glass mosaic pillar.

This piece of art was an unexpected treasure during a morning exploring Oceanside, CA looking for a great cup of joe.  Visiting new cities I try to find a great local spot. Part of supporting local spots is supporting the small businesses that make each city or town unique. I love the flavor and character you can find in a local business. So where did the exploration for a good cup of joe take me… to The Cup!  An unassuming spot with surprising character, great cup of joe and amazing local art!

The Cup coffee house


Never under-estimate the short time you might have to explore a new spot in your spare time. The time it took to visit The Cup for an espresso to go, also was a great art find!

Window Frames Inspiration Art

Inspiration window frame art 1

It all started with three old window frames dredged up during a visit to my family’s old 1940’s tool barn where I grew up.  They were just too cool – by cool I mean weather beaten and chippy! I had to find a way to use them in my house.  Yep, I actually paid to ship these three rickety frames from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California and I’m certain the shipping cost more than the frames themselves.  But, knowing they were part of the family history was worth it.  The story behind them is not glamorous since there were  generally used as winter windows covered with plastic sheeting, but the classic 4-pane look was timeless.

After considering all the options like covering the windows with fabric, possibly painting a mural (which is way above my skill level), adding glass or mirrors, I settled on words. Not just any words, but inspirations. To me, these were windows to the soul of the inspiration.

In fact, if you read all three frames together the words just in the window frames themselves say it all… Dream Big Discover(y) True Freedom!

The three frames with their inspirational words are a hidden gem and tend to surprise our guests since they are up high above our soffit. We enjoy seeing the surprise!

Inspiration window frame art 2

In case you’re wondering the lettering was done with stencils and hand colored a small chunk of words at a time in my spare time.

DIY Closet Door Design

DIY patterned closet doors

Living with my 1970’s home meant there were large white heavy closet doors in every room.   Generally I hate large boring white doors likes these since they scream for something more.  Closet doors were on the transformation list over the 8 years of the house projects.  In transforming the closet doors in a DIY fashion, I considered 3 things which helped me decide on what they would become:

1. How much color did the room already have
2. In my be kind to the earth mentality, could they be re-used since they were solid wood
3. How they would be used and by whom

Maybe these considerations are too rational for most, but since spare time is limited, I didn’t want to plan on re-doing these closet doors anytime soon! This is how it all started and how it ended is:

Room #1 -the master bedroom patterned closet doors you see in the photo above. These closet doors remained since there was already a large wall of curtains covering our sliding patio doors opposite the closet. To even consider more curtains in the room seemed like an overload of curtain fabric. This was a DIY project using balsa wood, an xacto knife and clear craft glue. Super easy to cut, super time consuming to measure (as I found out after starting). Worth it in the end- completely!  I love the patterned look since it keep the room feeling light in color and just added a bit of texture and dimension.

DIY curtain closet doors

Room #2 – my youngest child’s room transformed with curtain closet doors.  This meant all the crazy toys and clothes in the closet could become invisible with a quick close of the curtains that even my youngest could do!  It allows the full closet to be better used instead of only half at one time with the usual sliding doors. Plus, her room ended up being the last to be painted, which meant we just ended up painting it white. So all the color had to come from other sources. These closet doors took over nearly one wall so it become the accent color to the room.  The color is a little off in the photo but essentially it’s turquoise at the top, then green then a light blue.

DIY painted closet doors

Room #3 – the teen’s room received painted closet doors with fabric bulletin board. The closet doors added the accent color for the room and made use of the unused vertical space on the outside.  In case you’re wondering the giraffe print fabric bulletin boards are truly super easy.

  • Cut foam core board – the thicker the better -any size you need (find at your local craft store).
  • Cover with batting (this is thin stuffing in a sheet form). Cut it large enough on all sides to wrap around to the back. Find this at the fabric store.
  • Add fabric of your choice. Again cut it large enough on all sides to wrap around the back.
  • Use a staple gun with short staples and light pressure to tack it all down on the backside.
  • Use the removable velco strips to hang on the closet doors.

Now you have three different DIY closet door designs to inspire and hopefully give you ideas on how to do it in your spare time!

Glass Mosaic Garden Art

DIY glass mosaic

Oh how I love glass and cement!  My luv of cement starts here with my cement floor art .  A plain cement pillar, chipped and a bit dirty called out for a home when I found it at the flea market in Ventura, CA. I always love a good piece of molded cement but what to do with it was another thing since my style is not structured – at all.

Lucky for me, a family member had given me a gallon of stained glass chips recovered from a glass factory in Washington state. It sat for several months waiting patiently for just the right DIY project. Colored glass is amazing and speaks to me in all it’s various forms. Some of my favs are beach glass, fused glass, blown glass and stained glass. I have a bit of each one in my home. For me colored glass is almost as good jewels!

Yep, days after picking up this pillar I was on a glue search for something that could be used outdoor, waterproof and clear.  As you might see this pillar has a lot of details so grout was out of the question.  Lucky I didn’t have to look farther than my local craft store. It took a few days to complete as I worked on one small strip at a time waiting for it to dry before rotating to the next strip.  Most of the time was spent sifting through the bucket of glass chips for just the best colors and putting together the mosaic glass puzzle.  This felt like the Zen part of the DIY project.

DIY glass mosaic

I left the chipped parts at the very top of the pillar as is, since it gave it the “been here a 100 years” look. It’s a great DIY mosaic art piece out in the garden in all it’s glass and cement glory!

Hope you find time to enjoy all the glass jewels!

Make Extra Time in Your Day?


DIY pottery platterAlways game to try something that will me feel like I have extra time, I followed the advice in a recent article.  The article said that if you do something different, out of the ordinary by your own standards, it will feel like you added extra time to your day.  Sign me up for extra time!

Time to test the theory. I agreed to join a few girlfriends Friday after work for DIY pottery painting and wine. I’ve never taken the time to hang out at one of these DIY pottery painting shops because well, they usually take a lot of imagination and time, neither of which I can make magically appear.  I think if someone had mentioned wine earlier maybe I would have tried it sooner.  After the usual workday and getting  everyone off to their Friday night destinations, I joined the girlfriends at 6pm. 

I was a bit worried I’d have to dream up something creative on a Friday night after a long week.  Luckily at this place you don’t have to bring an ounce of creativity to make something you’d actually want to keep.  They provide the step by step instruction, pattern and all the necessary equipment. The result of my extra time research was the party platter. We finished our DIY painting project in about two hours. The girlfriend chat probably made our lesson extra- long since we had to wait for paint to dry at certain times. No we didn’t actually make any ‘watch the paint dry jokes’ but we did catch up on a lot of laughter.  By the time I got home I couldn’t remember my work day.  I did feel like I somehow crammed an extra half- a- day in after work for a lot of fun “me” time.  Fun for me usually doesn’t make it to the top of my list.  But, from now on I’ll be planning something different more often.

In case you’re thinking of “beating the research” and planning a lot of different things in your day to always feel like you have that extra time, the article says it’s not so.  When you plan to do a lot of different things in a day it just turns into normal and then so does the time in your day.

I hope you find something different and get extra spare time in your day!

San Francisco Public Art Twisted Birdhouses

San Francisco Public Art Mission District

A recent girls only trip to San Francisco had us cramming in all the sites we had time for over a weekend. For some reason the Mission District is one I hadn’t visited yet and where I found this truly awesome and fun 3-D public art mural tucked on a the side of a building in a side street.

This is a crazy fun piece of 3-D art work with the twisted birdhouses and all blue birds looking like they are rushing off to work, reminds me of something Dr. Seussist. My favorite part in this art is the artist incorporated the real exterior building features like the white pipe as it if were actually part of the bird house.  This art is so fun and rare that it’s 3-D. The artwork has so many interesting stories within it – love the bird toting his lunchbox and what looks like modern factory in the distance – it makes you want to hear the storey straight from the artist.

Enjoy your time finding public art!  Public art is never on a schedule and always unexpected so it’s a fun way to treasure hunt a new –or old city.

DIY Bathrooms – mosaic or not?

Bathrooms updates tend to take a chunk of spare time and this was no exception! There were 2 bathrooms and to keep the sanity only one was done each summer. Each was a DIY project of sweat, love and a lot of patience!  This is the first bathroom and since I wasn’t brave enough to work with a tile saw I went artistic with a mosaic countertop.  This is when all those puzzle skills of the younger years are put to the test and it really counts since there is no do-over!


  • fake cultured marble countertop
  • yellow linoleum floor
  • wood towel bar, toilet seat and cupboard
  • plain white front vanity
  • unframed full wall mirror

The FAB:

  • Polished travertine mosaic tile countertop
  • Fresh paint on the walls – “green grape” a great soothing but energetic color
  • Chocolate brown paint on the vanity and over the toilet cabinet to unite and ground the space
  • Travertine “looking” vinyl sheet flooring (surprisingly every repair person who has worked in our bathroom mistook the vinyl for the real thing!)
  • 3 Towel hooks  on the wall. I don’t believe in towel bars. There’s never enough space for the towels you end up using and they never stay hung up, especially with kids. At least with hooks all the towels have a fighting chance to end up hanging.
  • Rounded shower curtain rod – Love this space gaining look!
  • New textured shower curtain – you’ll never guess this was actually sold as tablecloth!
  • Molding around the vanity doors – custom look for a fraction of the price
  • Framed and cut mirror – the original mirror was cut down and framed

So I said there were 2 bathrooms and here is the other bathroom ( a 3/4)

What did I learn from bathroom #1? Tile saws are amazing and glad I learned how to use one! Inexpensive to rent and set up. Bathroom #2 took half as much spare time! I still love both of the unique countertops.

I love learning to use power tools even if it is a little scary!  What power tools were used in the DIY bathroom transformation? 4 tools borrowed or rented that’s it and they were only needed for 1 day (actual use time was less than 1 day)

  • Mitre saw – also love this awesome tool
  • Nail gun – you really can’t do moulding very well without this
  • Hand drill
  • Tile saw

Key to my success was using pre-mixed grout since I didn’t need much! In the theme of teaching an old dog new tricks, I was excited to finally learn how to use a tile saw in my spare time. Now I’m just trying to figure out what else should have tile!

Ways to save on the DIY?

  • rent or borrow power tools
  • buy large remanent tiles to break to cut
  • buy hardware in bulk sets
  • Frame an existing mirror
  • Add paint and spruce up existing cabinetry with molding – this is an easy way to be eco friendly, reuse and revitalize!
  • Use fabric in new ways – a tablecloth becomes a shower curtain
  • DIY customize your light switch plates. Used below is a former plastic switch plate with upholstery nailheads cut and glued and the entire plate spray painted.

Enjoy your spare time!

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Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

DIY Concrete Floor Art


What to do with rust brown wall-to-wall carpet and yellow linoleum floors?  Spend the time stripping it down to the concrete slab and add color plus art!  Having never down this type of transformation before it was a little daunting to say the least. With more spare time than money it ended up being a very unique way to add personality to our first home.

We decided to have concrete floors in all the high traffic areas – hallways, dining room and kitchen. Very practical I know, but allows you to spend your spare time elsewhere instead of cleaning.  The main area of the living room and 3 bedrooms received the carpet treatment.  Time investment was pretty intensive due to the linoleum flooring being glued to the cement. It’s a nightmare I don’t wish on anyone.  Taking up the carpet in specific areas a breeze by comparison.

Top 3 Advantages to Concrete Floors:

1. Keeps the house cooler in the summer (no difference in the winter if you were wondering, but then again I live in Southern California so winter can be 2 weeks at 40 degrees)

2. Great for clean-up! less stress less time (especially important if you have a zoo of animals and family)

3. A fun conversation point! (have also found it useful with young kids for homework – each point of the kitchen sun become a stopping point for learning a spelling word or math fact)

What to consider to make concrete floor work for you?

  • Find a tile at a store you really like to have a ready-made pattern and set of colors
  • If you want art (and not an artist – I am not) – make it simple! Being beach people, the Mr. and I decided on a sun in the kitchen and a dolphin in the entry way of the front door.  Be on the lookout where ever you are for art inspiration.  The Mr. and I were enjoying a cup of espresso at our favorite spot and spied our art inspiration on a set of ceramic mugs! Yes a quick napkin drawing or phone photo will help.
  • Be comfortable with imperfect.  Your paint job won’t be perfect and with regular use of your floors you’re bound to get a few small imperfections – but think of the imperfect as a great story. The spot where your favorite dish broke on the floor and made a ding. The new couch that made a small scrape when you found its perfect spot and your perfect spot on the couch.


The concrete floor art was pretty straight forward with a heavy dose of patience!

Here’s the short version of how to do concrete floor art (porch paint was used):

1. After the floors are all prepped (really, really clean and any cement patching dried), put on the base coat (porch paint was used here) with a roller.

2. Draw in the outlines of your artwork and paint those areas first.  Be sure to erase your pencil lines if they still show.

3. We used the rag rolling technique for the top color.  Do one coat then after it dries you’ll want to decide if you need to fill in anywhere.  This is where it get completely subjective – how much top color you want and how much you want the base coat to show through.  We ended up with doing 2 top coats and added back in a little of the base color where it was needed.

4. Seal the floors with either Varathane (yellowish base) or Polyurethane (completely clear).  We used 3 coats of Varathane applied with roller.

Voila!  Great concrete floor art.

Enjoy your spare time!

p.s. no my kitchen counters do not look this clean on a daily basis.

1st Home = Projects + Time

Spare time where have you gone?  Aaahhh, our first home purchased in 2004 –a 1970’s former rental.  It’s been a whopping 8 – yes that’s 8 years in the works.  On the bright side, (I’m an optimistic kind of gal see About me) I can now say all the major projects are finished- which means nothing is staring back at me begging to be brought into this decade!

I’ll be taking you on a journey during the next few posts of the transformation and providing ideas and tips on stretching your home improvement funds and your time – just in case either or both is in short supply.  I have no tales of contractors gutting and completely remodeling just a thoughtful plan that fits requirements for budget, lifestyle and time.  So let’s start at the beginning with the disturbing highlights of our 1970’s first home:

  • dingy yellow linoleum
  • white tile and grout with pink walls in the kitchen
  • rust brown wall to wall carpeting – even in the dining room
  • quirky 2-sided fireplace with 4 wall sections of fake brick
  • triangle windows and hanging vertical blinds
  • dead rose bushes & a white picket fence  —note, this fence has lost all it’s white paint and is falling over. This white picket fence was not the one I dreamed of I’m certain
  • big globby green trees, decorative concrete blocks and plastic fence borders
  • endless walkways & patios of gray concrete slabs
  • a less than inviting mudpie brown exterior

Other amazing highlights topping my list:

  • indoor/outdoor carpeting in the bathrooms
  • white landscaping rock
  • chunky wood accessories everywhere — wood shelves on the fireplace, at the end of hallways, toilet seats and towel bars
  • extra large garage light – with the long fluorescent tubes- hanging in the dining room

Now you know where we started. Wondering why we bought this delightful property? Living in Southern California watching the market climb and trying to find a good first property to put in some sweat equity – yes it had to have “good bones”, good location, and schools too.

House specs:  1428 sf, 3 bedrooms, 1.75 baths, garage and 20min drive to the beach.

Enjoy your time!

Public Art Yarn Bomb

Sometimes spare time means taking the moment to appreciate what’s already around you.  Every place I travel, the city up the road or the country half an ocean away, I try to find the public art.  I don’t have to go far and it’s usually in my path anyway.  I just make a point to stop and check it out.  I never know what I’ll find and I do love the unusual art and the unusual places you find it!

A recent vacation in Redmond, Washington had me giddy when I spotted this yarn bomb – seriously I was gushing with excitement to my carload of family.  I’ve heard about them but never seen one in person.  I just had to capture  this awesome yarn bomb at a local park during the town’s Derby Days festival.  I love the color, I love that it’s on big huge trees and completely unexpected!

I recall crocheting a scarf when I was just a wee girl but haven’t picked up knitting or crocheting again.  This was definitely inspiring for learning the skill again.  I’m sure I’ll add it to my growing “someday” list.