Monthly Archives: October 2011

Our Favorite Things: Keys and Speakers


So what have I been digging lately?  Keys.  I’m not talking about piano keys or car keys, here, people.  I’m talking keys used for home decor (deep breaths, Chris, not everything needs a practical use).

Wondering how you can incorporate my newest obsession into your house?  Here are a few examples.

CW from top left:

  • This key ring is just the thing for topping off a tablescape, maybe on top of a stack of books or the final element to a coffee table tray arrangement.  Style Me Pretty.
  • Turn any doorknob into a romantic moment with a little ribbon and an old key.  Idea from French Kissed.
  • The key necklace line from Tiffany and Co. makes any girl drool.
  • Group keys together for an interesting wall collage.  Purchase this set of 3 keys from for $74.
  • A clever solution to using keys for framed wall art by Dream Home DIY.
  • For the techie in your life: a key shaped flash drive.  I guarantee you won’t lose this one with such an interesting shape (yes, I speak from experience). One option available at
  • Have a few old keys lying around?  Why not string them from trees in your backyard for instant interest. Idea from Shanon Manley.
  • Looking for a more modern, unique way to use keys in your house?  Check out these key wall decals in a plethora of color options from KathWren on Etsy.  Best part?  They’re only $24.99!
  • Use old frames, keys and hooks to add an interesting piece of art for any wall in the house.  Idea from The French Flea.
  • I love the idea of a key to happiness incorporated into the house.  And what girl can say no to a pretty pink ribbon?  The Alternative Wife.
  • Some may think this is key overload but I love this throw pillow made from gold key fabric and topped with canvas ribbon and a gold key emblem.  Available for purchase from Julieanna’s Creations on Etsy.
  • DesignSponge shows an easy, gorgeous DIY solution using small knick knacks and spray paint to form a key shaped collage. 
  • Another example of how to use several keys to create the perfect element for accessorizing a room.  Available at BHLDN for $18.

I didn’t waste any time finding ways to incorporate keys into our own house.  You can find old keys (or old looking keys) in a ton of places: art/craft stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s and Garden Ridge, flea markets, and online stores like eBay and Etsy.

Framed Key Print.

I found this awesome print of old keys from Winged Images on Etsy for a whopping $1.  She e-mailed the artwork over within a day.  I went to FedEx and bought a sheet of their “Antique” colored paper and printed it off at home.  One frame from Aaron’s Brothers later and I was in business.  Voilah!  Instant art.  The print is the perfect look for our newly remodeled master bathroom!  Etsy has a lot of great key prints- some offer artwork to print on your own (like I did) and some offer prints that they can mail you.

Ring of foot doom… err.. keys.

I found this ring of iron keys in a small shop in Cordoba, Spain for $15 (Haven’t heard of it?  Not surprised… it’s in the middle of nowhere).  They were heavy but I was determined to get them home.  It’s probably a lot of the reason my bag was 75 lbs.  So heavy, in fact, that my cab driver dropped my suitcase on my foot trying to lift it out of the car trunk.  Ever had 75 lbs land sharply on one point on your foot?  No?  Well, let me tell you the results.  Instant swollen foot.  Attractive purple bruise.  Fabulous footwear (in the form of a bulky boot) prescribed by doctor.  Three weeks hobbling around in boot.  Aka: So. Much. Fun.  Buuuttttt, it was worth it! 🙂  Look how great they look on my stack of books on the coffee table in our living room.

Collage art.

I found this bronze key at Hobby Lobby which perfectly completed my art collage in our living room.  I’ve been challenged with finding items to hang on the walls beyond printed pictures and mirrors.  A key is a nice change to the wall art pattern I was beginning to fall into.


As Julie pointed out, I typically shun anything that isn’t practical. One area that I believe deserves excess and extravagance, however, is music. Much to Julie’s dismay, I love loud music, and not just because I have the hearing of a retired explosives technician. I enjoy volume, but I demand clarity. To the untrained ear, anything better than AM radio is “sufficient,” but somehow I grew an extremely picky sense of hearing that rejects cheap speakers and pop music. There are only three brands of audio systems I’d ever allow in my house, and I’ve listed them in reverse order below:

3. Bose– say what you want (“No highs, no lows, just Bose”), Bose really does produce some of the most impressive audio equipment available, albeit a bit gimmicky at times. What’s unique about these systems is that the components are typically very small and easy to hide.

2. Bang & Olufsen– I first discovered B&O in England when I accidentally wandered into one of their retail shops, and I instantly knew I had stumbled upon a quality product. These homes theater systems typically come in very contemporary, almost futuristic designs, but they’re Danish… so what do you expect?

1. Burmester– There is absolutely no better sound system than those made by German manufacturer Burmester. Each home theater system must pass over 300 quantitative tests before being submitted for subjective evaluation by trained professionals in sound quality. It’s so high-end, in fact, that Porsche now offers Burmester sound in the Panamera and Cayenne. There is one drawback, though- a fully-loaded home theater setup will cost you a cool $60,000.


And Chris says I have expensive taste??



Filed under Favorite Things

Most Wonderful Time of the Year


We love Halloween and I mean L-O-V-E.  Let’s put it this way: of all the days in the year, Chris picked Halloween to propose on and that wasn’t a coincidence.  And then he found out Halloween fell on a Saturday the year we were getting married.  Try as he might to convince me, we I did not love Halloween enough to get married on the date, but I’m still a big fan and he’s still a bit disappointed.

Needless to say, another big reason we love owning a house is decorating for the holidays, which of course includes Halloween.  We’ve been scouring the Internet for ideas lately and well, all you goblins and ghouls are in luck, Chris and I have compiled our favorite ideas for your enjoyment and, hopefully, inspiration.

For those of you planning a spook-tacular (sorry, I just love holiday-themed puns) Halloween party:

Check out these perfectly creepy “Buried Alive” cupcakes by Rachel Ray.  Although, it’s a little creepy that one of the steps involves tearing limbs off a baby doll.  Just saying.

Make some “killer” cocktails.  What a great, easy chalkboard idea by Better Homes and Garden.

Something Created Everyday featured this display they found.  The artist found the lights at IKEA and painted the hands for a creepy zombie effect and framed the display with an old wooden frame. This would be perfect to recreate at a house party.

Tired of white and orange pumpkins?  No fear, Mod Podge is here.  Turn pumpkins into graphic statements with a little Mod Podge and fabric.  Find the tutorial at Tater Tots and Jello.

And now for some outdoor decorating ideas…

Centsational Girl stacked her pumpkins in alternating colors on the planters she has on her front porch.  An easy way to bring color, interest and a dose of the holidays to the front of your house.

For an even more colorful display, take a look at this Southern Living tutorial for glowing disco-ball-like pumpkins.  Gotta love the sparkle!

Have an extra pumpkin laying around?  Dreamy Whites has a great tutorial on how to transform a pumpkin into a bird feeder.


“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

No, not Christmas… Halloween. Ghosts. Goblins. Vampires. Zombies. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. As a kid, I loved dressing up as what was usually some sort of pilot and getting free candy, while as a grown-up I love the opportunity to exercise my creativity  and creep out my neighbors while watching all the great horror movie marathons. In fact, I love Halloween so much, I proposed to Julie on that day. So, needless to say, Halloween is close to our hearts. We celebrated our first two Halloweens as a couple by dressing as a pair to parties, but when we finally got a house we knew we’d be going big. We’re always on a budget, but our goal is to gradually top ourselves (and our neighbors) every year.

Where Julie and I differ on Halloween, however, is the style of decorations. Julie is into clever Halloweenizations (not a word? It is now.) of everyday decor, whereas I like gruesomely humorous setups and unconventional twists on “traditional” decorations. Here’s a few examples:

Here’s a guy who has catastrophically crashed his bike on a gravestone and consequently slammed his head into a tree. No, make that through a tree. Sick, right? Oh, but you know you laughed…

Next, we have skeletons climbing up the side of a house. I liked this one so much, it served as inspiration for some of our own decorations this year.

What’s creepier than people holding hands in a circle? How about ghosts holding hands in a circle (I’d say zombies holding hands in a circle, but let’s be realistic here- zombies don’t hold hands).

Finally, we have legs sticking out of the ground. There are few things more disturbing than partial bodies, even if their complete existence is implied. Assembling half a body is just a creepy experience.

Hope you enjoyed the ideas.  Pictures of our own yard to be posted soon!


Filed under Holiday

Round Top Part 3: The Guide


I thought I would provide a helpful guide to all those Round Top newbies out there. Note, these are just my opinions and suggestions. Feel free to explore on your own and make your own discoveries. Report back though! I’d love to hear from my fellow Round Top junkies.

Where to Stay:

Option 1- book your hotel/motel/house/B&B as far out as possible, even consider doing it a year before. As soon as the Round Top weekend is announced, rooms go fast. And I mean fast. Two months out, my mom and I decided we were going and the closest hotel we could find was a sketchy no-name motel 45 minutes away and that was the closest by a long shot. I did find out that Rachel Ashwell (founder of shabby chic, duh) just opened a bed and breakfast in Round Top with rooms starting at $200 a night. Might as well live it up. Her place is called The Prairie- check it out here.

Option 2- find a friend with a house in the area, like we did! It was great! No packed hotels, no noise, just the relaxing feeling of the country (and a few scorpions, although by the amount my mom and I killed off that weekend their numbers should be dwindling). It’s definitely the way to go… but, obviously, a rare find.

Where to Shop: Everything is along 237, beginning in the town of Round Top and heading north until 290. Here’s a breakdown of a few of the more popular places.

Marburger Farms: This place features, by far, the most booths (more than 350!). They have ten huge tents and 12 historic buildings on property for you to peruse through. This place is many people’s favorite, and only, stop. It is on the more expensive side but if you’re looking for clean, organized booths with less clutter and more of a retail feel, this is the place for you. There are some really unique finds here but they come with the retail price.

Big Red Barn and Continental Tent: This is the original Round Top experience, started in 1968. This is the second largest space in Round Top and features a lot of true antiques, both early American and European styles. Being true historical antiques, the prices are on the high end. The barn has close quarters but is set-up well with distinct aisles making for a pleasant shopping experience. Oh, did I forget to mention the A/C? Remember, it is Texas which means September will still be warm.

La Bahia: This is the first spot for many when venturing into Round Top as it’s the first place that pops up when going south on 237. It’s more clutter and less retail, which means more great deals and negotiating galore! This is where I found my metal numbers and my mom found her big O. It’s on the smaller side so you can get through it pretty fast.

Blue Hills: This is another smaller place that features items from all ends of the spectrum: from the less expensive oddball items to the more expensive antique furniture pieces.

Of course, we stopped at a handful of unnamed, unmarked places on the side of the road. That’s where you can find the best stuff sometimes!


For $20, you get to park in the grass and rummage through old junk. What a deal!

Skipped ahead?  Back it up… and check out Part 1: a guide to the trends of Round Top Fall 2011 here and/or Part 2: a look into all the great stuff I found here!


Filed under Deals & Finds

Round Top Part 2: The Loot


Chris thinks my Round Top trip was very successful. I, however, am a little on the fence. I got some really awesome things but I thought I’d come away with more meaning I didn’t spend as much as I thought meaning Chris is one happy husband.
So let me show you the goods already!
Deep into day one, I hadn’t yet made a purchase. I had seen a few things but wanted to be conservative and not spend it all in the first place. I was anxious to start filling up my car when my mom stumbled upon this wooden hanging basket. I was still pondering what I would do with it (use it outside to hang pots from or maybe use it inside to store firewood by the fireplace) when my mom showed me the price tag. $10!! I snatched that puppy up faster than you could say “killer deal” and headed to the register. But, wait, it gets better. Upon trying to negotiate a package deal with another item, the booth owner stopped me and said those three magic words, “it’s half off.” “Um, excuse me? You mean it’s $10, half off of $20?” I replied. “No, it’s half off of $10. It’s $5,” she informed me. Four seconds and five dollars later, I was the proud owner of a wooden basket hanging thing-a-ma-bob and proud of it. We’ll see where it ends up in the house. Have an idea for a cool use for this? I’d love to hear it!

I found these numbers at the first place we stopped by and passed them up since I couldn’t figure out where to put them and everyone knows my house doesn’t need another set of characters on display (I currently have 5 letters distributed throughout the house for decoration). On day two, it hit me. These would be the perfect thing for the collage I was building in our bedroom of a sunburst mirror and framed engagement picture. The rusty silver patina would be the perfect finish to tie in the bronze and iron tones we currently have in the room. So my mom and I headed back to grab two numbers: a 2 and a 4. While I’d love to tell you that 24 means something significant, and I could stretch it to make it make sense, the real reason is because these numbers would hang from nails as is, no drilled holes needed. Chris was so proud of my pragmatic decision on this one! Oh, and they only set me back $5 each.

Another reason for the pragmatic number decision was to help balance out how impulsive of a buy this chandelier was. I saw it hanging in a booth and knew it was the solution to our entry way light problem (more on that later, but let me put it this way for now: we’re on our third entry way light and we’re still not satisfied so we’re currently looking for candidate number four). It’s structure would match our dining room chandelier, which can also be seen from the entry way, meaning we need to tie the two lights together. The light also had a ton of character and was the perfect rusty finish giving it an informal, fun feel. Sounds perfect, right? Wrong. The light wasn’t set up for electrical. Good thing I have a crafty husband! The price tag of $28, which I talked down to $20, further convinced me that I should just buy it and figure out the logistics later. If Chris can’t hook it up, we can always put candles in it and use it outside in our future deck/pergola plans. But, let’s keep our fingers crossed that Chris can figure this out because this guy is a beaut!!


And look at this table! Swoon worthy. I was a fan of this table the minute I laid eyes on it, desperately thinking of a room it could call home. I delayed purchasing because of the fact that this 8 ft monster wouldn’t fit in my little sedan. Sad day. But it worked out because the mission style table wouldn’t have fit in with our current living room styling. It was for the better… or that’s what I keep telling myself to help get over the loss.

After cleaning the dust from our shoes, packing up, and grabbing a last lunch in the town of Brenham, my mom and I walked by this cute antique store with a variety of mismatched chairs on the sidewalk. I saw this one chair, paint peeling, cushion missing, all alone and knew it had my name written all over it. It was listed for $29 but I managed to scoop it up for $25. It will be the perfect addition to our mismatched chair set at the kitchen table. I’m trying to decide what color I want to paint it and what fabric to use for the cushion. I’m also researching how to create a seat cushion from scratch so stay tuned for the fun that ensues with that…


All in all, it was a pretty successful trip. I picked up some great items and only spent $60! My mom found some nice pieces too, including a hand carved small side table from the late 1800s and a giant “O” to hang from a tree on their country property. You know how much I love letters so I’m a big fan. Until next year, Round Top.

If you haven’t seen my breakdown of this year’s Round Top trends, read about them here!


What is all this stuff?

But wait, there’s more!  Check out our post about the trends of the Fall 2011 Round Top show here and/or find our complete survivor’s guide to staying and shopping in Round Top here.


Filed under Deals & Finds

The Magic of Round Top: Part One


Now that my feet have rested up and my wallet has cooled off a little, I figured I’d sit down and rehash a trip with my mom to Round Top.  For those of you that haven’t heard of Round Top, let me put it this way.  Round Top is…

– The biggest little town in Texas

– The home of the largest antiques show in Texas and one of the largest in the nation

– The latest shopping victim conquest of my mom and I

Don’t let the population of 77 fool you.  This festival has its pulse on the new trends of interior design even though it’s smack-dab in the middle of no where.  So what was hot this year?  Well, take a look.

  • Roman numeral glass jars.  My favorite ones were from Spain and had the city of import printed on the neck of the bottle.  Of course I favored the Barcelona one.  I’m not sure what the meaning behind the roman numerals is but it’s definitely a cool look.  Some jars were even paired with a wicker basket, but it covered up the roman numerals so I liked them by themselves more.  One booth used them as a dining room table-scape.  I thought it was a great idea and has inspired me to recreate this on our dining room table.  Stay tuned for that project.

  • Hands, hands and more hands!  And the award to the creepiest Round Top commonality goes tooooo… the raised hands!  Seriously, I saw these everywhere.  Skinny fingers, fat fingers, short wrists, long wrists.  Yes, there was some major Dr. Seuss-ness going on with these.  Not surprising, but I refrained from purchasing one of these little guys even with their “pick me” attitudes.
  • Junk Design. For all my fellow Picker Sisters fans, you know what I’m talking about.  For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s the latest trend in furniture: turning junk into functional home furnishings.  I saw quite the array of junk turned design, from chain link lamps to rooster yard art made from lawn tools to pendant lights made from attic vents to benches made from blinds.



  • Subway Inspired.  I saw one booth where the artist turned subway stops into everything from art to chair upholstery to pillows.  A really cool idea especially for the more modern spaces.
  • Unique Lights.  Designers are turning anything and everything into usable lights.  I saw pendants made of stars, clear/industrial sconces, and wire form pendants.


  • And now for the weirdest things I stumbled upon in Round Top: a hot air balloon basket (but no balloon in site), a plain looking blue mannequin, and the saddest/weirdest site of all- the place furniture goes to die.  I just wanted to rescue all the forlorn looking pieces but, sadly, it wasn’t possible.  Maybe next year.
Now, I bet you’re wondering about all the loot I scored.  Patience, young grasshopper.  I’ll divulge all next time!His.

I went to Round Top last year and let me tell you, this year was infinitely better. Why, you ask? Because while Julie and her mom were partaking in a ritualistic pilgrimage to a town that otherwise wouldn’t exist for what is effectively second-hand dumpster-diving, I stayed home and went mountain biking.

While Julie was meandering through “repurposed” (see: lipstick on a pig) junk to find the latest lamp made of… whatever, I was carving through the woods at unflagging speeds, narrowly dodging large trees and small animals. As she picked through piles of what was once (and should still be) discarded lawn equipment, I was hopping over exposed tree roots and sailing through downhill sections with ease. You see, Julie’s main hobby has always been shopping, mine has always been doing really dangerous things on bicycles (sorry, Mom).

My point here is that all in all, this trip was a phenomenal success; Julie spent very little money on whatever it was that she bought, and I didn’t have to go. I suffered through Round Top last year and almost died at Canton this year (I literally almost died in a medical way… not to be confused with the “Oh my God that flower pot was so cute I almost died!” context you typically hear about in Canton), so I’ve earned my Patient Husband Merit Badge and can now move on. I wish I could explain to you just how much I hate these things, but the English language doesn’t have words to properly express it.

So if you see me at an antiques show in the future, call the coroner… because someone has dragged my dead body there.

Want more Round Top?  You’re in luck!  Check out our post on all the loot we scored here and/or check out our guide to surviving and scoring big in Round Top here.


Filed under Deals & Finds