As I survey my home I see that I have filled it with hand-me-downs. My couch began life at my mother’s home then moved to my brother’s and now to me. The table beside it was my uncle’s and then I swiped it from my mother. Until a recent change my beautiful bed was my grandparent’s. The buffet came from my husband’s basement as it is used to be a tool chest.

recycled furnishingsThe shelf above the buffet is my mom’s old mantlepiece. 2 dressers were my grandparents. Many of my nicknacks are from my childhood home, too. I actually have very little that was purchased new. I do not believe I have ever spend more than $300 on a piece of furniture except for my mattress which is heavenly btw. I love craigslist. People are funny. When they are through with something they want it to be gone and it is amazing the deals one can find on there.hand me down couch

I really like that as I look around my home there are memories beyond my own that belong to the pieces in it. I like that I get to meet the people on craigslist that I buy stuff from and get to know them just a little bit. I even got to know the wife of a man that grew up in my house. How cool is that? She was a client of mine and we figured it all out one day. He came by and chatted with my husband a few days later.

I do think it would be really cool to spend time finding and choosing beautiful pieces of furniture without thought of price – only design and quality. I know exactly where I’d go to find just what I would want. I am glad that in real life I went to my family, craigslist and a few local antique stores to furnish my home. Maybe it’s your grandma’s lamp that is sitting on my uncle’s table next to my mom’s couch in my friend’s husband’s childhood home.

a vintage lamp

A Fresh Start

It was a new year and I wanted a fresh start so I sat in my jammies for two days procrastinating. Then a friend asked me to come over and give her some advice on her fresh start and I found my inspiration! Her walls are currently covered in swatches of new paint color, art is stacked around the room and there are piles of flooring samples. I came home and took every single thing out of my living room except the heavy stuff. You should have seen my kitchen! You couldn’t have seen it for all the stacks of stuff in it. At one point my husband came in trying to find a glass of water.

“I love it when our house is like this”, he said.

“What”!!!!? I asked.

“It’s just so cool”

Isn’t he cool?

I read somewhere that my stuff would lose its magic if I took it out of context by removing it from the room. It worked when I redid the bedroom and I was hoping it would work for the living room.

It was hard. I love all the stuff. At one point I broke a big mirror and I was actually relieved a little bit even though it was a tragedy because then I wouldn’t have to reject it. I temporarily lost a lot of nicknacks over Christmas. That helped a lot… until I found them safely tucked away. before and after

I struggled with finding a balance between what kind of look I seem to be attracted to right now – rooms with three things in them – and what is truly the way I want to live – rooms full of stuff.

But it feels good in there now. I like it. There is some familiar and some reworking and some new. A good balance.

wing chair and kittyput a bird on it

My daughter packaged my Christmas presents in a crate she made herself! I used it for my new music center. diy wooden crate

and here is the one of the gifts that came in it:Christmas gift



I am going to try to blog regularly now. It seems I took January off. I really missed it, though, and am battling a war with wanting everything to be perfect on here. You won’t be seeing perfect but will be seeing something. Thanks for reading.


look what did show up in my Christmas stocking after all!what I wanted for Christmas


Beautiful Scandinavia Christmas Decor

I love Scandinavian decor. Lots of light with clean, simple design. The images of Christmas Scandinavian decor that are around the web are stunning. I’ve gathered a few of them here. Enjoy!mikkili tree candle holdersmikkili snowflakesmikkili ceramic housesdowel treeFšnster, julstjŠrna, Stockholmdining room styled by Maiju for Lapuan KankuritChristmasRealLivingtree  Stylist Sarah EllisonChristmasRealLivingdining Stylist Sarah Ellisona merry mishap winteryoungsters christmas My-2nd-hand-life_jouluimage 1 image 2 image 3 image 4 image 5 image 6 image 7 image 8 image 9 image 10

I wouldn’t cry if I found those tree candle holders in my stocking this year!


Decorating for Christmas

I love to pick a theme each year with which to decorate for Christmas. I have used Swedish decorations in the past. The things one can weave out of straw! Then I moved on to birds. Feathers everywhere! Lately I have been using vintage glass ornaments. They were so much fun to hunt down. Last year my friend and I filled our instagram feeds with boxes of ornaments in antique shops. She’d post one and away I’d go to pick them up. The nice thing is they are very affordable.

This year I sent my husband out to buy the tree. He showed up with a $10 tree that was so cute! $10! Those vintage ornaments dressed it up!

my Christmas tree

My Christmas treeI like to put the tree in front of a mirror. That way you get twice the tree! Here is my favorite ornament.my favorite ornament

Last year I put together this marquee sign. lighted up marquee sign

The angel orchestra is from my childhood Christmas decorations. I love them.angel-star-orchestra

With my leftover ornaments I made a wreath. It killed me to glue these. But I think it was worth it. Don’t you?wreath made of vintage ornaments

I hope you all have as much fun as I do decorating for the holiday. I wonder what my theme will be next year? 3 felt carolers


What do you think about my new blog layout? A nice couple from South Africa builds layouts and sells them on Etsy!

How to survive spending time with family without being the one to ruin it.

I recently spent a great deal of time with family. Tis the season to do so, right? It isn’t always an easy thing to do. People are messy. We get tired and grumpy and irritable or are just rude. What is worse is when it is yourself that does these things.how to survive family gatherings

I have the loveliest family. Their get togethers are fun and easy…until I show up.

One of my favorite family members was telling a very funny story about a trip she took to her hometown. Right in the middle of her punchline my mouth opens up and starts talking over her. She even asked me to wait for her to finish. I just said the remaining words faster. omg.

I often come home from parties and second guess what I did or said. I hate that. I would like to be able to have enough style and sense to act like a civilized person without fear of some ghastly tidbit falling off my tongue or thoughtless act visited upon everyone by me. A list of rules will help me, I think. You can help me, too. I will begin the list and you add any that you can think of.


Leave the cell phone in the purse. period.leave the cell phone in your purse

Maybe during the last 5 minutes it would be okay to take it out and snap a few photos of the pretty Christmas tree or cute puppy.


Don’t talk when other people are talking.don't talk when other people are talking.

duh. I also have a bad habit of always having a similar story. Do you know what I mean? Someone tells a story about when they were in the first grade and so I have to tell my story about when I was in the first grade. Everyone who knows me and is reading this is nodding their heads right now.


Don’t bring up sore subjects.don't bring up sore subjects

This can be tricky but try, anyway, to not talk about other people’s past mistakes or embarrassing events.


Compliment the hostess/hostcompliment the host

People work really hard to make things nice in their homes before we all descend upon them. Mention how pretty the house is and how yummy the food tastes. I think that is one of my favorite things about visiting and having guests: all the care and energy put out for each other.


Hostess gifts are really nice.hostess gifts are nice

I love it when my guests bring me a little something. It feels very thoughtful. I need to get better at this. Plus if you’ve acted rudely at least you also brought a gift.


Don’t be the last to leave.don't be the last to leave

If you are at my house ignore this rule. I love lingerers But hosting is exhausting and I think it is a good idea to wrap things up and get the hell out in a timely manner.

There is a thing I have been seeing around the web lately about not saying goodbye at larger parties. I love this. It seems people have realized that they spend their whole party saying goodbyes instead of enjoying their guests. Leaving can also be catchy and it seems when one or two guests start leaving too loudly everyone else also thinks it is time to go and, before you know it, everyone has gone home early. This happened to me once. I spent a long time getting everything ready for a dinner party. One hour into it one of the guests had to leave and in 5 minutes everyone else left, too. I was left wondering if the food I served was awful or perhaps it was something I said….

I promise I’ll behave if you invite me to your house! Surely there are things I’ve forgotten to make this list complete. Do you have any rules to add to this list?

Making Firestarters

We heat our home with a wood stove. I love it. I have gotten pretty good at starting the fire. I cheat. I use fire starters out of a box. It makes it so much easier! I think I spent $100 on boxes of the stuff last year. One of my favorite blogs, The Art of Doing Stuff, did a tutorial on making fire starters. I had been saving egg cartons and gathering pinecones to do just that. I had not gotten around to buying the wax so I just used some extra large tea lights. This weekend I had fun making them.

The pinecones were a bit damp and so I left them by the fire for a few minutes.    drying the pinecones by the fire

I popped the wax out of the metal holder and separated the wick. If I was really clever I’d think of something to do with those metal cups…tea lights to make fire starters

Karen suggested using dryer lint. Brilliant. I had to make sure my lint didn’t have too much dog hair in it. We have a lot of dog hair around here.adding in the dryer lint for fire starters

I love using the pinecones. They smell terrific. I just topped off the lint with a pinecone in each egg cup.melting the wax for fire starters

Parchment paper on my counter to protected it from the wax. Once the wax was set I cut the cartons apart. I might cut them apart before filling them next time. assembling firestarters

Funny story:

When I moved into this house it was as a renter. The living room had wall to wall carpet. Blah. My landlord wouldn’t allow me to pull it up. One day I decided to entice my very cute landlord into my apartment by asking him to show me how to build a fire in a wood stove. He got the fire roaring and, so that we could enjoy it all the more, he left the doors open. Sure enough a burning log fell out, rolled over the marble tile and onto the carpet. We pulled the carpet up the very next day and got married just a few months later.home made fire starters

A Swedish Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Pumpkin pie is good. This pumpkin pie is great. The recipe was my Great Grandma’s. She came to the United States from Sweden when she was a young woman. I don’t remember her but I always think of her when I make this pie. Or when I do dishes. My mom taught me to do them the way her grandma taught her – she was blind and taught my mother to wash dishes by touch. It works really well! Until recently I always made a traditional crust but now I make a grain-free crust and the combination is delicious. Really, the crust is not that important – just make your favorite.
I use my phone to look up recipes instead of a recipe card! I miss recipe cards as their screens don’t go dark every few minutes!
Mixing pie crustimageSwedish Pumpkin pie ingredientsa bowl full of whipping creamThanksgiving pie

Pumpkin Pie

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Mix together
1 3/4 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons dark molasses
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add in
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 1/2 cup condensed can milk
Pour into a prepared crust

Bake in one crust at 450 degrees for 15 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Test if pie is done with a knife in the middle of the pie.

Grain Free Pie Crust
Mix together
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar (any kind of sweetener you want)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Pat the ingredients into a 9.5 inch pie pan until it is evenly distributed. The dough will rise a bit when you bake it. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until it’s pretty. Fill it with the pumpkin custard and bake it up and put it on the table!a slice of pumpkin pie

The Edible Thanksgiving Table Centerpiece

Tradition says that Thanksgiving was inspired by a desire to stop and remember that life is hard and we feel thankful to have survived it for one more season. Plus the whole idea of making friends with your neighbors. Ha! Yesterday’s post featured a table all in white. This table embraces that tradition. And there is no better way to make a friend than to offer someone a slice of pie!edible landscape centerpiece


Tucked in next to the fire with a riot of fall leaves out the window and a centerpiece that is a celebration of food this Thanksgiving table is a landscape of gratitude. I piled on beautiful produce and greenery so that it would overflow the brass tray right onto the table. Grapes, persimmons, kale, cranberries: Yum! And after dinner one can add the centerpiece to the dinner leftovers!Thanksgiving table by the firecross stitched napkina slice of pumpkin pie


The pumpkin pie is a family favorite. Recipe coming up tomorrow.Thanksgiving pie

Thanksgiving Table

I love setting the table. There are so many good memories I have of great meals and conversations shared around the dinner table. Making it beautiful is part of the fun for me. There is a Barbra Streisand/Jeff Bridges movie in which she invites him to dinner and the table is very, very fancy. It looked ridiculous.fancy table in Barbra Streisand movie I realize that is Lauren Bacall in the photo but it was all I could find. For a while it made me rethink setting the table so formally. But that’s no fun!!! At least on Thanksgiving we can be a little fancy, right? A few images from past Thanksgivings will give you an idea of how fancy I like to be. Credit goes to my niece, Gaia, for the top right image. images from past Thanksgiving tables

This year I thought I would do a few test runs. My husband is enjoying it. The first is a blank canvas of sorts. Let’s call it a White Thanksgiving. Layering a vintage white cloth with a velvet faux bois table runner made a good base.  Several candles and a pretty white porcelain bowl with four sections filled with starburst mums complete the centerpiece. Mixing vintage dishes with new is a great way to keep things interesting and beautiful. Place cards are fashioned out of some homemade tiles I had on hand lettered in chalk.

Next I think I’ll do a more traditional color palette. And perhaps I’ll also trial run a pie or two. My family always makes the world’s best pumpkin pie recipe from my Swedish Great Grandmother. This year I’ll make a grain-free crust using almond flour. I’ll share it all!A White Thanksgiving Tableplacecards in chalk for ThanksgivingA White Thanksgiving tableThanksgiving in White

5 Easy Steps to Add to Your Beauty Routine

There is a new member of our family. She is so very beautiful and I can’t wait to hold her for hours and hours. While we are all beautiful at birth our beauty changes as we move through life. Our faces and bodies reflect our history. What we eat. What we absorb as truth. What we think and hear. How much sun, wind and rain we stand in. Our laughter and anger. Our love and our indifference. All of these things have an effect on our soul which in turn effects our countenance.

I was convinced as a girl that I needed contacts for my poor, blind eyes, name-brand jeans for my butt, clearesil for my skin, cherokee shoes and I can’t remember what all else. I needed these things to be beautiful. I had none of them. My mother sewed my clothes and I had knock-off shoes and jeans. I think I used ivory bar soap.

The things I really needed to be beautiful was good relationships, love, acceptance, passion, health, curiosity, generosity, kindness. Slowly I learned this over my lifetime. I learned it as I saw it in others. One of the most popular girls in my high school had none of those things on the first list either. She was simply nice to everyone. She had all the stuff from the good list. I am friends with her on Facebook and I love seeing the photos from her life. She is a happy, beautiful woman.

Following is a 5 step guide for sustaining our beauty everyday. My favorite almost-six year old is here to help us with our beauty steps.

5 Steps for a Successful Beauty Routine

Step one to be beautiful

Be generous. Volunteer in your community. Your local school, political party, neighborhood library, CASA program, hospital, meals-on-wheels, Big Brother/Sister program will all make you beautiful.

Step two to be beautiful


Eat well. Spend quality time picking out and preparing your food. Caring for yourself in this way is a beautiful thing and will pay off for you and your loved ones.

Step three to be beautiful


Choose happiness everyday. Our feelings are choices. They don’t just randomly drop on our heads. They are not controlled by outside forces. My father used to say this to me all the time and he is right.


Step four to be beautiful


Have fun. Spend quality time doing lots of things you enjoy. I don’t feel guilty anymore when I spend a whole day futzing around my house rearranging, painting, organizing, etc. Or shopping in antique stores. Love that!

Step five to be beautiful


Be brave. Try those things you think you might not be able to do. Things you might be afraid to do. You just might fail. But you might not. I have never tried water skiing. It looks like so much fun but I’m sure I’ll never figure it out. Maybe one day soon I’ll be brave and try it. Maybe.

Easy things to do every day to bring beauty into our lives and right onto our face!

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
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