Archives for posts with tag: DIY

We’ve just returned to the brownstone apartment on Beacon Hill, my home away from home.  Dinner in the South End left us full and content – duck prosciutto, Margherita pizza, pasta Bolognese, and sparkling Rosé – with dessert still to come!

Boston Skyline from Jim & Joni's
Rooftop Sunset in Boston Beacon Hill Brownstone

I’m feeling inspired, as always, after a good meal in Boston.  I begin fussing around with pencils and notebooks while Jim pulls Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Ben and Jerry’s from the freezer to thaw and banters on with Kiersten and Nick about tonight’s movie choice.

Dinner at Coppa - South End Boston

“Let’s watch El Dorado!” I chime in, because I’ve had ‘El Canción del Mariachi’ stuck in my head all day (and since I’m not pitching Moulin Rouge, I actually have a chance).

I win.  “But only because it’s a thrilling action film,” Jim jokes exclaims seriously, “not because of Antonio Banderas.”  He says not to press play yet.  Joni wants us to go outside on the deck first because she has been waiting for the perfect moment for something and this is exactly it.

I step up and through the little screen door onto my favorite rooftop, a patio the size of the whole apartment.  Waiting in the late summer night is Joni sparking a candle-lighter over the small glass table, its flicker glimmering back onto her still wine glass.  She stands back up and shows a pleased grin.  The colorful votive holders I painted for them for Christmas are glowing for the first time in a triangle before me.



  • Glass Candle Holders
  • Cheap Paint
  • Brushes
  • Candles

Making a Mess

Mix water and paint with a medium brush and slosh in around the inside of glass candle holders.  Focus on your color choices.  Create dimension and texture by dribbling the paint down the outsides.  There’s hardly the chance to make mistakes, even if the color turns brown.  Just make them look good.

You will be satisfied by the colorful flicker and the simplicity of this project.  These make thoughtful gifts for many people.

Sloshy Paint Painted VotivesTea LightsPainted Light

I found the idea for painted votive holders from the blog, Once Wed.


Talking Heads

Cynthia's Bracelet

The most important consideration in creating a simple piece of jewelry is the bead choice.  A bold choice is a wise choice.

My turquoise skull beads came from Majesta M’s, a jewelry supply store in Fountain Valley, California.  There was a selection of skulls, but the turquoise was the most striking.

A simple bracelet with a single strand and clasp requires the following supplies:

  • Cool Beads and Good Ideas
  • Jewelry Wire (~0.45 mm)
  • 2 Crimp Beads
  • Clasp
  • Scissors/Wire Cutters
  • Needle-Nose Pliers

Skull & Seed Beads

1.  Measure one piece of wire according to the size of your wrist.  Leave a couple extra inches on both ends.

2.  Slide one end through a crimp bead, through one half of the clasp, then back through the crimp bead in the opposite direction.

3.  Pull the wire tight, and crimp the bead flat with the pliers.


4.  Decide how to arrange your beads and slide them down the wire.  Hide the tail by tucking it inside the beads.

Bracelet Beginning Bracelet Growing

5.  To fasten the other end of the clasp, repeat steps 2 – 3.  Tuck in the tail according to step 4.


6.  Clip the end and you’re done.

Bracelet Completed Skull Bracelet

This was Cynthia’s birthday present.  She loved it.

Clove & Orange Arrangement

My family was never one to have Christmas traditions…or so I thought.  I suppose it is not until one leaves the nest that she realizes the meaning in all those memories.  It’s been years since the family’s been together under one roof, but four things I can always count on:

1.  Mom telling us in October, “I plan to get my shopping done really early this year.”

2.  Laughing every Christmas Eve when Mom is still scrambling for last-minute gifts

3.  Watching National Lampoon’s Christmas VacationA Christmas Storyand Elf at least once every December

4.  The sweet aroma of cloves & oranges in the living room

Christmas Craft Supplies Spice Islands Whole Cloves

You’ll need:

  • bunch of oranges
  • jar of whole cloves
  • something sharp and pointy
  • assortment of dishes
  • maybe some Christmas tree trimmings for added visual and olfactory pleasure
  • imagination

Christmas Traditions Something Sharp to Poke

Get the family together for this one.  It’ll take ten minutes tops.  First, visualize a pattern.  Be creative: initials, zigzags, ocean waves, circles, snowflakes, suns, daisies…  Then get poking.  Pierce the orange peels with a sharp knife or point to prevent the clove from crumbling in your fingertips…they aren’t exactly cheap.  Once a set is complete, choose a dish and create an arrangement as you would with flowers.  Lay the oranges on a bed of Christmas tree fronds to add color and seasonal scent.  Place a few on the coffee table in a decorative bowl.  Set a single orange in a teacup on an end table or nightstand.  Stick a dessert plate in the bathroom on the toilet.  A strong, sweet aroma lasts for a good few days.

Be aware: Oranges will turn green before Christmas if you start too early.  Be double aware: Eyes burn when orange juice squirts, so keep your face back while poking.  Maybe have protective goggles on hand.

Poking Cloves Patterns and Designs Imaginaaaaation Scent of Christmas Coffee Table Bouquet

I know I’m posting this a little late in December, but the smell lasts even after Christmas is over.  Cheers to remembering old traditions and starting new ones.  Thanks for this one, mama.

Here’s something pretty to try.  Free People gave me the idea.

Tin Lantern Light the Candle

You need:

  • myriad of tin cans
  • something to measure with
  • hammer
  • screwdriver
  • water
  • freezer
  • paint
  • tea lights
  • fire

It’s ridiculously simple and will happen just as long as you remember to salvage the tin cans that land in the recycle bin.

Leave them on the  kitchen counter next to a sharpie until you imagine your patterns – then dot away.

When the time is right, fill the dotted can with water and freeze.  Each time you open the freezer, you’ll be reminded to grab the hammer, and in two minutes you’ll have a new lantern.

Tin Lantern Pattern SketchFrozen Tin Lantern Tin Lantern Project in Action

I just held the frozen, dotted can on a paper towel between my thighs or shoes, but I’m sure you can figure out something safer.  For the record, I did not hurt myself.  Hold the Phillips head screwdriver steady over each dot and gave two or three solid hammers.  The one I used left tiny cross indentations.

When the ice melts away, you can paint it.  I used a few thick coats acrylic and a medium paintbrush.  I’m satisfied with the results.

Tin Lantern Post Hammer Tin Lantern Paint Mess Tin Lantern Flickering Tin Lantern Light Sparkles

All I need now is a never-ending supply of vanilla tea lights, because I find myself addicted to the three-dimensional flickering.  And, there are so many places to put these tin can lanterns.  I’d like to hear and see what you come up with.

Tin Lantern Copper Glow Tin Lanterns in the Dark

(By the way, have you noticed my absence?  It’s true, I’ve kept Sunny Styles quiet for months, but I feel I must tell you now that I have been working behind the scenes on an entirely new mode of operations.  I’ve realized I must not worry over when and in what order I get things done.  If I do not force the rhythm, it all just sort of happens.  Keep breathing.  Eyes, continue to roam.  Hands are working close behind.  And as I said before, Just Coast…

And, stay tuned for a whole lot more.)

Britex FabricBritex FabricsBritex first floor, expensive importsBritex FabricsBritex FabricsBritex Buttons FloorBritex Button FloorBritex FabricBritex FabricBritex FabricBritex FabricsBritex FabricBritex FabricBritexChinatownChinatown

I followed my mom up to San Francisco for one of her LEGENDARY day-trips to Britex Fabrics.  But not just any fabric store…we’re talking five stocked floors of fine imports and affordable fabrics, thousands of buttons, miles of ribbon and lace, and rare finds hidden among the sea of bolts.  Britex would impress even the least stylist person.

Of her four children, I alone carry the record for ‘longest session in a fabric store with mom without complaining/whining/becoming angry.’  (Mom, you must be proud to have passed on your love of fine fashion to at least one child. Thank you for the good taste and eye for pretty.)

PS.  Britex’s blog has some cool things to tell you.