DIY Island Stool


Sometimes it’s the little things and in this case it was a boring drab stool of the Target variety. A bit beaten and weathered looking since it’d been around for a few years getting good use. Itching to try a spray paint technique left me with the DIY Island Stool. Island, since turquoise and lime green remind me of island cottages that I’d luv to own someday.  The stool that’s a workhorse, but no reason it has to look it!

Here’s the drab beginnings – maybe you have one of your own your considering…



  • Pick 2 favorite spray paint colors ( I generally use indoor/outdoor type)
  • A plastic grocery bag
  • Plus all those protective things like something to cover the floor where you are painting and plastic gloves if you like

How to:

  1. First, you’ll want to either lightly sand all the sides or use a liquid sander.
  2. Then it’s on to the fun part – spray your base color first on the bottom leaving the top for last. Spray 2 coats on the bottom before painting the top so you don’t have to worry about re-coating once you blend.
  3. Spray the top in the base color and immediately spray light touches with your second color to the top followed by a large “brush stroke” with the plastic bag in the spots where you’ve sprayed the second color. This will give a nice blending to the 2 colors.
  4. After drying, sand the edges and a bit across the top for a weathered look as if you’ve been living the island life for years!
  5. Optional: clear coat with a satin finish spray

Tips to keep in mind:

Make sure the temperature where you are spraying is not too hot or paint will start drying immediately.  Direct sun with 75-80 degrees is a bit hot for working with spray paint I’ve found.

When you use the plastic bag for blending, pull the bag into a ball with a flat smooth surface that you’ll pull across the paint lightly.

Don’t like the way it looks or you are just getting the hang of blending? Wait until it dries, lightly sand then re-spray.


Enjoy your spare time!

Unusual Public Art in Occidental Park

Alley Garden

Wandering the streets on a recent trip in Seattle I never know what surprises are around the corner. Generally I just hope they don’t include anything smelly or crazy.  Surprise #1 was this pop of garden color down a back alley.  Trailing red flowers flowing out of garden boxes among the old brick and stone was such a surprise.  Here’s the view of the entire back alley and why I stopped in my tracks. Yea I know it’s just an alley, but the architecture with the garden boxes in a space that would otherwise be just a forgotten alley was worth taking time to capture (p.s my family found this rather odd especially when I suggested we take a walk down the alley – just a small adventure to enjoy!)

Flowering alley Seattle Pioneer Square

Surprise #2 was just down the street in Occidental Park. The “Read With Me” temporary art literary installation used the existing everyday park fixtures (lamp-post, tree, manhole cover etc.).  What genius to show people to see the extraordinary in the ordinary! It sounds like one of the life lessons I should take to heart.

Read With Me Seattle

Public Art Occidental Park

My favorite literary art piece was The Manhole Cover! Probably because it seems the most unusual and unassuming (I mean really it’s a fixture on the ground) and the last thing I would have considered as a subject.

Manhole Cover Literary Art

The next time you are wandering the city or your neighborhood, I hope you have a chance to be surprised – in a good way!

Enjoy your spare time!

Oxbow Organic Farm and Gourd Art!

Oxbow Organic Farm Duvall WA

What started out as a quest for a pumpkin patch ended up being more than pumpkins on a visit to the Oxbow Organic Farm in Carnation, WA. Besides being a great learning farm for kids with a “living” playground that included a gourd tunnel and giant green bean teepee it also had a great organic art and inspirational outdoor space!

What a great picnic spot in the grape arbor!  I’m not sure what I luved finding more, the actual grapes which looked amazing or the vibrant colored gourd art decor hanging on the inside of the arbor!

Gourd Art Grape Arbor Decor

With gourd art like this, who wouldn’t start thinking this would make a great gift idea! Plus it  looks like something that wouldn’t take much spare time so sign me up.

Gourd ornament

On a parting note, I couldn’t resist passing the most unusual play feature I’ve seen at a farm for kids and adults to find that inner farmer…The Climbing Tractor!

The Climbing Tractor

Enjoy your spare time!

Old Books Transformed into Furniture Art

recycled book couch Duvall WA

I love creative surprises and nothing surprised me more than books being re-purposed in such a grand way as furniture art! Maybe I need to get out more, but I haven’t run across a book couch yet in my life. Comfortable for a nap in your spare time likely not, but a great conversation piece! This fabulous book couch welcomed me outside the door to the super local used bookstore Duvall Books in Duvall, WA. A great small town in my opinion with a classic main street, local business and no chain stores – did I mention a great ice cream and candy shop too!

In talking with the owner, this is the second couch for the store.  The first lasted about 8 years before they had to remake a new one. So if you’re considering creating one for yourself, my 2-cents – pick book titles that will keep you entertained for several years!

Thinking this is likely not the only re-purposed book furniture out there, here’s a few others I found. Some are pretty pricey at $8500 and others that seem to be very DIY friendly like the stack of books at the end of a comfy couch – no hardware required.

Enjoy your spare time reading or re-purposing your old books into furniture art!

(image via: real simple)

(image: the witcontinuum) $8500 Saatchi Online

(image via: eco-artwareverdelivre) Book Shelves by Jim Rosenau

(images via: casasugar) Artist David Karoff for Providence, RI’s Myopic Books

(images via: dezeen) Artist Laura Cahill

DIY Mini Succulent Garden Creations

bird bath succulent garden

If you read my earlier post this week I love succulents gardens! They are really easy to start and maintain.  In fact most of my DIY succulent gardens are simply cuttings from existing plants with nothing more than good old cactus soil and sticking the cutting straight in the soil.  Yep it really is that easy!  No seed starting, no root growth first, just a cutting in the soil and then a little TLC to get it going.  The other great part of succulents is they generally don’t need gallons of soil especially to keep them mini sized.

Having been inspired from other mini succulent gardens I created many of my own. This former bird bath, a flea market find, ended up with a large crack in the basin. A perfect opportunity to try a mini succulent garden.

Mini succulent potted garden

Brightly colored pots also make great mini succulent gardens. This fabulous pot was rescued from the alley on trash day.

Candle holder mini succulent garden

This is my experiment in progress to see how succulents would do in a former candle stand. There are actually 3 of these candle stands in varying heights each with its own mini succulent garden. This size is a bit more work since I actually do need to stay on top of the watering but a total success so far.

What other vessels make great mini succulent gardens? My votes are for small candle holder, ramekins, ceramic vases, incense burners or even cereal and soup bowls.  Here are my mini succulent gardens that ended up being great hostess, teacher or even co-worker gifts. It’s the perfect time of year to get them started so they are established before you hit the holiday season.  For a special touch to each of my mini succulent gardens I always add-on top a few great shells, polished rocks or even beach glass.

DIY mini succulent potted gardens

DIY mini succulent garden pots


My favorite so far of ways to create a DIY mini succulent garden is in the center of a book! This was a thrift store book that someone had painted the entire outside cover, so it was already looking to be re-purposed in a new way.

succulent garden in a book


There are many “how to” articles on the web, but here are my quick tips and a special decorative soil cover.

1. Glue around the entire book page edges so the pages stay together in big chunks (crafty glue seems to work well)

2. Measure out the shape you will cut from the core of the book pages. Mine was relatively small about 3 x 4″ since I wanted to leave some of the words.

3. Using an exacto knife, start cutting through the layers.  Cutting worked best for me when I cut in large chunks.

4. Line the inside of the shape with 2 layers of parchment or freezer paper. I used parchment paper since it’s what I had on hand and it worked great.

5. Add soil and succulents.

6. Decorate and cover the soil and there you go – fabulous!  Here’s my insider’s tip: the decorative soil covering I experimented with is dried beans. I found mine in the 99-cent store and there were many colors to choose from. I added a few polished rocks with a contrasting tone then watered lightly.  In case you are wondering, the beans have not sprouted or spoiled! I tend to water close to the plant and not all that much water since it’s a succulent!

Enjoy your spare time creating your own DIY mini succulent gardens!

Mini Succulent Garden Inspiration

5 Feet From the Moon succulent table

Living in Southern California has given me the chance to get to know succulents, grow them and have them actually live – sometimes thrive!  Originally, I’m from the Pacific Northwest, and succulents don’t really hit the top ten list for garden items – but I’m certain the variety of mosses is on par.  Spending spare time walking the aisles of a design trade show just for fun (by the way, I’m not a designer but highly recommend attending one if you are ever in need of inspiration – a sure-fire way to get out of any rut!)  is where I found my new succulent garden inspiration.

This mini succulent concrete table is one of the most unusual ways I’ve seen succulents used and is now on my wish list.  5 Feet From the Moon from Santa Cruz, CA uses mini succulents as living art!  Here is their amazing concrete table with a waterfall into a succulent pool and a great wall hanging which only makes my wish list longer!

5 feet from the Moon waterfall table       5 Feet From the Moon succulent wall hanging

Even these simple vibrant blue pots makes succulents look more fabulous! I’ll definitely be on the look out for pots with color.

potted succulents

Why succulents? In my book they not only have great texture and color, but they also save me time.  They are low maintenance and they always look good! In my next post, I’ll share how I’ve used them in traditional and non-traditional ways. Plus how to use them for unique one of a kind gifts. Enjoy your time!

People Stone Art Bainbridge Island

People Stone Art Bainbridge Island WA



Spare time this past weekend included a trip to Bainbridge Island, WA. No, it wasn’t just a quick 2-hour trip but a long weekend to see family in the Seattle WA area.  If you’ve ever been to Seattle, it’s not unusual that a weekend includes a ferry-boat trip. Since this happened to be a lucky rain free – actually sunny and hot weekend – in the Pacific Northwest the ferry ride to Bainbridge Island was something out of a postcard.  Bainbridge is a great small town walkable from the ferry landing.  Our walk landed us at the marina and this great people stone art!

This may be one of my favorite public art finds so far and with a perfect water setting! It was such a contradiction to see the hard stones shaped in movement – you can almost feel the personality of the stone people. I think my favorite is the unicyclist! There were also a gymnast, runner and even stone flowers in one of the garden setting.

In case you’re wondering about the talented artist stone sculptor Ethan Currier, his stone business card was also included.  Enjoy your spare time!

Ethan Currier sculptor Bainbridge Island

Drab to FAB Friday! DIY stool

Drab to Fab DIY stool

What was once a pathetic, worn out foot stool stopped me at yard sale because I’m sure I heard it crying out for a second life! Yep, it had a second chance to be DIY fabulous! Fabulous as a mini stool to sit and play cards at the coffee table. Great at the end of the couch with a short stack of books or magazine. Also a great kiddie size in case you have a few running around your house.  A fun accent piece too that doesn’t take up much room. What does it take to make it drab to FAB?

  • Cleaning and a bit of light sanding
  • Can of black spray paint
  • Hand staple gun
  • Scissors
  • A small piece of batting – the thin sheet like stuffing
  • Fabulous fabric – what doesn’t go with zebra print!
  • And about 30 minutes

Definitely worth the spare time in my book!  Happy Friday

The Lab Antimall- Public Art & Small Business Shops!

The Lab Antimall center courtyard


I’m by no means a shopaholic and in fact not much of a mall lover – simply too overwhelming with the amount of choices!  But I have found my luv of shopping in an “antimall” The Lab in Costa Mesa, CA.

The LAB, combines all my favorite things:  outdoors, great public art, unique small businesses, succulents, great food, recycled things and an eclectic funky vibe!  Here’s the brief bio of The Lab:  “recycled from a night vision goggle factory back in 1993. Indoor-outdoor hang out with shops and restaurants. The “LAB” stands for “Little American Business””.

So what is there to luv? First the great colored wood benches which make me think of reclaimed wood.  There’s also an amazing oil drum water art feature which is so cool, they actually have a sign posted asking you not to take photos to preserve the art’s originality (but you can catch a glimpse on the The Lab’s about page.

The Lab wood bench

They also have great public art or what some might say is just great recycled design with texture and color! The mosaic wall is amazing and if you look closely it’s a great mix of tiles, nuts, bolts and more!

The Lab mosaic wall

Bird houses? Yes, they have a great group of cool bird houses installed at the front of center courtyard.

The Lab bird houses


I’m a huge fan of succulents so the succulents and garden boxes were a surprise find! These succulent gardens have a spot at The Lab on several of the outside walls making a walk around the buildings a MUST DO!

The Lab Garden Boxes

I think what also topped my list is the way many of the shops incorporated recycled and up-cycled design.  My favorite was the shoe displays made from large books –  absolutely genius!

Recycled book shoe display

If you luv the unexpected finds this is a great place to explore in your spare time!