Pumpkin Pie Cake

We posted this recipe last fall but it is soooo good I thought it was worthy of a retake!  This is my dear friend Elizabeth’s recipe.  It is so much easier than pumpkin pie!



1 (30 oz.) can pumpkin pie mix

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 box yellow cake mix

1/2  cup melted butter

1 cup chopped pecans


Beat together pumpkin pie mix, evaporated milk, 3/4 cup sugar and eggs.  Pour into a greased  9 x 13 inch pan.  Sprinkle yellow cake mix powder over above and pat down lightly.  Sprinkle with pecans.  Drizzle melted butter over top.  Bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Enjoy!


Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!




Fall Decorating – Living Room and Layered Rugs

I finally have some photos to share with you of our fall living room.  This room  took awhile to pull together because  I tried several different combinations of accessories.  I brought things out of storage in my  basement, and just “played”.  This is probably my favorite pass time … moving furniture around, trying different accessories and along the way cleaning, polishing and organizing.


For this room I was looking to do some pops of fall color but not stray too far from our mostly neutral color palate.  I started with some new plaid pillows from Target on the matching club chairs.  They are big and plump and cozy like a flannel shirt.


On the sofa I added two new pillows – a navy and white window pane and a graphic pheasant pillow – both from Target.  But not much in the way of color pops yet …

Then I switched out a leather footstool for one that I found curbside and had stashed in our basement.  This was a piece that I intended to recover at some point.   It just so happens to be orange plaid and I thought it might work for a pop of fall color.


I liked the leather ottoman in the photo below (also thrifted) but it has always been a little too big for the space and when I looked at the photos of the room, I noticed all the different shades of brown leather (2 chairs , the ottoman, and some old suitcases) that I had going on.


 It really helps to look at the room through a camera lens because it reveals things that you just don’t notice otherwise.   So, out with the leather and in with orange plaid.

Between the two chairs I played around with a stack of leather suitcases and a stack of baskets, before settling on the baskets.  The baskets added some interesting texture and function as dvd storage and a  landing spot for a drink and a book.


The large tobacco basket behind the chair has been up for awhile.  We brought this home from an antique store in South Carolina way back when.  It too has a graphic, almost “plaid” pattern.

To spread some color over to the sofa, I added one orange-ish pillow   This was a PB cover I purchased a few years back.  What can I say … I collect pillow covers!


And then I turned my attention to the floor.  I’ve been intrigued by all the photos I’ve been seeing of layered rugs. What a neat way to add some coziness and  warmth to the floor!  Here’s a few that caught my eye on Pinterest:


Neutrals are great but don't be afraid to pick a signature color. Interior Design by Emily Henderson:


I want a pair of these chairs.:


A Rug to Love!:


Searching my basement, I pulled out this old black needlepoint rug, thrifted at some point in time.


It’s not the perfect rug in terms of size and color, but I like it enough to live with it for awhile.  It’s got some pale pink in it that I am ignoring and when I look at the room as a whole, it seems to read as black.  I like the grid design which echoes my plaid theme and it anchors the room, too.  Plus, it makes the room feel warmer.


But after I laid the rug down, I had to tone down the orange of the ottoman because of its proximity to the pink parts of the rug.   So, I moved the neutral throw from the arm of the chair to the ottoman.  And here’s how it looks now:


On the opposite side of the room are my two mismatched leather chairs.


The Eames style chair purchased from the Habitat Restore got a new throw from Target.  I like the black  white graphic design along with the fringe on this throw. And it ties to the black rug and the black piano niche.  Incidentally, the throw is on clearance now – just $6!

The log cabin quilt in the background was made by my great aunt.  It instantly brought some fall color to this side of the room.


Finally, I refreshed the chalkboard wall piano niche with one velvet pumpkin and some gold framed yard sale artwork.


 I like how the gold frames pop against the black wall.


 You can read about the piano niche and why I did a black wall here and how I made the hand painted bench cover here.



So that’s a wrap!


Just in time to think about redecorating for Christmas!



Fall Decorating – Foyer/Mudroom

This week I directed my attention to our foyer/mudroom area.  We have been in this house almost two years now but so many things have taken priority.  Until lately, I haven’t been able to be really intentional with my decorating.  Intentional decorating takes a lot of thought – figuring out how to make a room really function for our needs and making it look  pretty.  I think that doing  “pretty” is easy.  But making a room functional and pretty – now that takes a whole lot of thought!

So I am going through our home, room by room, studying the flow, the light, the balance of colors and textures and considering how we all use the space – intentionally speaking that is!


So here we are at the front door.  In this house, everyone enters from the front of the home, via either the front door or a side door, both of which open to the same space.  Hence, my foyer doubles as a mudroom.


Both the front door and the side door are painted SW Black Bean  – a really dark brown which we like a lot.  To the left of the front door is the Pottery Barn Andover cabinet  – the only piece of furniture we purchased specifically for this house so far.


 The cabinet is home to our CD’s, keys, batteries, charging cords, etc.  I have an assortment of nature-related books on top because they sort of relate to the pond setting of this home.  For fall, I simply added a few turkey feathers to an old green bottle and some bittersweet for a pop of orange.  The lamp shade is from Target, recently found on clearance.  I like the graphic “feather” design – well that’s what it looks like to me anyway!


On the floor sits an old wicker basket that I found recently at the Habitat ReStore.  I’m not sure what it was intended for but I am using it to corral some of my decorating  magazines (I have a hard time parting with them, although I am getting better at purging) .  The top section is purely decorative with a few pinecones and an antler for fall.


It’s nice to be able to grab a magazine on my way out the door to soccer practice!


The right side of the front door (which is the left side of the side door you see in this photo) is where we hang our coats, “grab ‘n go” bags and my son’s book bag.  My husband made the rack out of some salvaged wood that was here on the property.


 An old wire utility basket hangs off a couple of the hooks for outgoing mail and library books. This same idea could be done with any kind of basket or hanging bin.


 The plaid jacket was something I thrifted a few years back for $1!  It makes an appearance every fall.   It’s a man’s jacket but it fits me like a glove.  And, I love how it looks just hanging out on the hook.

foyer13 You could do the same with a plaid scarf that’s been hanging out in your closet.  Lesson:  raid your wardrobe for home decor!


 I cozied up the bench a bit with an Ikea faux sheepskin.  These are great where ever you need to soften a hard edge, add texture or just cozy up a space.  Our cats love it, too.

 The pillows are purely decorative but this was a spot where I could add a bit of fall color  – the black and white plaid pillow is by Allen Lippes for Target. I love the large scale buffalo check done on the diagonal.  The green velvet  is Pottery Barn, thrifted last week for $3!


Under the bench, I use two old gym locker baskets – one for my little guy’s shoes, gloves, hats and soccer socks.  The other one is for his daily school papers which get purged about once a month.  I made canvas liners for the baskets to hide the clutter.  I have a third one of these baskets and I’d like to use it if only I could find what box it is in.



So there you have it – my fall foyer and mudroom combo!

Thanks for stopping by!


Fall Decorating – The Dining Room

I am really liking  the whole plaid vibe this season and have been especially impressed with Target’s Threshold line of pillows and throws, not to mention all of their brass and copper accessories.  So, plaid was my jumping off point for adding some seasonal color to my dining room.

Inspired by  the Target line, I  cut up an old plaid blanket that I have had forever,  which was the perfect size for making two 20 inch pillows.  I literally “wrapped” the blanket around each pillow and sewed two side seams.  This made an envelope-style closure and I kept the blanket fringe as an interesting detail. Love ’em!



For the window seat, I used my existing PB brown pillows, sewed up one sweater pillow and then brought in two pillows from Target – the off white plaid, and the gold geometric.


 And to be honest, it took several trips to Target to get the right combination of pillows for the dining and living rooms … It is not as easy as Emily Henderson makes it look!

I tidied up the book shelves a bit, adding another layer of interest by hanging a  small oil painting from the shelf.  After all, fall is all about adding layers, right?


I also added two narrow shutters to each of the bookshelves, on the sides that face inward towards the window seat, to “warm up” this side of the room.


Restraint was the key word for my fall mantel.  I have realized that simple, graphic pieces work best with a textured background like  a stone fireplace.


So I did a little chalk art, copying something I saw on Pinterest by searching “fall chalkboard”.  And, added my antiqued faux pumpkins, feathers, antlers and reindeer moss.

Down the center of my table is an old runner that I purchased from a flea market a few years back.


I like using rugs as table runners because they tend to be wider, longer and thicker.  Of course, I washed this baby in the bathtub before bringing her to the table!

On top of the runner I layered a long old wooden box – another yard sale find. In the compartments I mixed some pillar candles, along with some faux gourd candles that I have had forever … stashed away in the box with the old plaid blanket I mentioned earlier!


What really made the difference with this centerpiece was adding the reindeer moss around the candles.  The greenery softens the hard edges and ties in with the moss I used on the mantle.

100_7441And yes, that is another Target pillow on the dining chair in the foreground.  This one is a muted gold velvet with a graphic arrow design.

The area at the end of the room by the mirror is still a work in progress.  The suitcase on the luggage rack is a placeholder until I can find something that fits the space better –  I am thinking “brass with wheels” but we’ll see what comes along!


Fast and Easy Faux Pumpkin Makeover

Over the years, I have accumulated a number of orange faux pumpkins – the kind you find cheaply at Walmart or the Dollar Store.  My current decorating style tends more to neutrals so the bright oranges aren’t really working for me.

I did a quick makeover on my pumpkins with some “parchment” chalky craft paint from Michael’s, along with some leftover dark walnut stain.


 My mom enjoyed painting the pumpkins with the craft paint.  After they dried for a few minutes, I brushed on some stain with a sponge brush in the grooves of the pumpkin and around the stem.  I immediately wiped it off with a soft cloth.


I am sorry I can’t show you the steps but I needed some instant fall gratification so I didn’t take the time to photograph the before and during! But really this is so easy.  And you could substitute the dark stain with whatever you happen to have on hand.


I like how they look elevated on pedestals and nestled in a little reindeer moss.


I mixed them in with a few other neutrals for my fall mantle this year.

Up next:  fall touches throughout my home.

Hope you are all enjoying the change in weather!


Beach House Exterior Progress

Last weekend we turned our attention to the outside of the beach house.  We are still finishing up the fence but I thought I would share our progress so far.

This is  what we started with:



We then painted the house gray and the trim white, added blue shutters, window boxes and a little striped valance.  We also beefed up the porch columns with plastic “sleeves” and some trim molding.  And we had the big tree removed because it was way too close to the house.  That brought us to here:


You can read more about this first round of updates here:

Beach house exterior color scheme

Awnings and porch valances

This past weekend, we brought in stone for the front yard.  Grass would have been nice  but it’s not easy to grow in sandy soil.  So we opted for low maintenance stone.

My son helped us out …


 To soften the lines of the house, we created some curved planting beds.  We used some edge stones from Home Depot to define the curve and keep the new  soil and mulch separated from the stone.


We chose an English laurel to anchor the left side of the house, two boxwoods to flank the entrance and one weeping cedar tree on the far right, all of which will stay green throughout the year.  We also puchased three hydrangeas for the area below and between the window boxes.


We will fill in the gaps with either some grasses or annuals …  or maybe some lavender … the smell of lavender would be wonderful when sitting on the front porch and I love the way it moves in a breeze.  Lavender needs a lot of sun, however, so I am not quite sure whether the front of the house gets the minimum  6 hours of sunlight needed for lavender to be happy.


I found some Pottery Barn outdoor pillows on clearance last week … just $15 each!   They are much thicker and larger than the ones that Home Depot and Lowes had this summer and a better price, too.


My mom painted a clay pot with some leftover turquoise exterior paint from the back door.  She so enjoyed the creative process that she painted the inside of the pot, too!  We set it on the front porch with some white asters to incorporate the turquoise pillows into the blue and white color scheme.


Well, that was our Labor Day!  More to come on making over an old fence…

The Ikea Stenstorp Island

When we did the beach house kitchen makeover, I originally had planned to use the Ikea Groland  freestanding island.  The kitchen needed an additional work surface and I liked the industrial vibe of this piece.

GROLAND Kitchen island IKEA Gives you extra storage, utility and work space.But along the way, I realized that this modest kitchen would function better with some additional seating.  This led us to the Ikea Stenstorp island.

STENSTORP Kitchen island IKEA Free-standing kitchen island; easy to place where you want it in the kitchen.

The Stenstorp freestanding island packs a lot of style in addition to functionality.  It comes with a solid oak butcher block top that can be stained light or dark.  We chose Minwax dark walnut to match the other countertops.


  If this  kitchen had been larger, we probably would have opted to mix the countertops (wood on the island and laminate or maybe granite on the perimeter).

The base of the island is white and it also comes in black.  The painted finish could be changed with some sanding and priming.   We left ours as it was because it matched the color of our cabinets.

On the side facing in, the Stenstorp has two shelves finished in stainless steel.  I love these!  They give the piece an industrial vibe and  provide lots of storage.  We added the two wooden crates from Home Depot for housing paper goods and water bottles.


On the other side, there is plenty of room for two counter stools.  Counter stool choices will dictate  whether the island feels country, modern or industrial, enabling this piece to blend with  any decor.


We outfitted our island with three dark bronze hooks from Home Depot.  These are perfect for towels and it customizes the island so it doesn’t look like every other Stenstorp that’s out there.



For additional functionality and a cool look, you could add casters to the island.


The $399 price tag, together with the fairly easy assembly, make this an ideal piece for a modest kitchen update.