Tag Archives: Ross

My (“new”) Semi-Italian Kitchen!

I’ve had a productive winter, starting in December. I was feeling vaguely dissatisfied with my kitchen, which I last showed here a  year ago. I thought I could do better.  After all, I am in the kitchen a lot and I want it to be cute, usable, and inspiring. I was looking at stuff on Amazon when I saw these Tuscan stick-on tiles. I was immediately smitten (at the time I was able to get two packs of four for $20; they are higher at the moment).  The tiles gave me an idea. Why not an Italian kitchen? Or a semi-Italian kitchen? After all, that’s what I am! Semi-Italian.

My kitchen was busy, there was no getting around it so I decided best to just give in to the busy look. (I see those sleek, modern empty kitchens in magazines and on TV and while they can look great, that’s just isn’t happening here.) I was thinking also of something somewhat retro in theme. I’m a renter so a major overall is out of the question but I still have a lot of leeway.

I took down and dismantled the mug rack I built over the stove and extended the utensil rack I made in its place. I took down the spice rack I built and made a new, more compact one. I painstakingly removed the (free) blue glass tiles I’d put up as a back splash over the sink. That was a bitch. Apparently I put ’em on real good!  For the cabinets I found  wonderful ivy stickers on Amazon as well as the yellow glass knobs. I toyed with getting bright colored ceramic ones, like a bright yellow but decided to go with something a little more subtle.


The vinyl tiles have a clear plastic cover that adds dimension and makes it look more like real tiles. I didn’t extend it over the oven because the manufacturer said not to on the product page and besides, that would have cost more. I ditched the silly two-outlet tap and replaced it with this  six-outlet tap. (By the by, whoever installed the outlets did so upside down which I finally realized but after taking a look inside I decided that level of electrical work was beyond my pay grade.) I used double-sided tape squares to put the tiles up (instead of permanently installing them by removing the backing).



Because I eliminated the mug rack I needed to make more room in the cabinets. I previously made shallow shelves for the back of the lower cabinets so I opted to make more so that there are narrow shelves all along the backs. Very convenient!

I found great little Moondance (by Circleware) salt & pepper shakers at Ross for the back of the stove. I found the sugar dispenser at Dollar Tree years ago. That’s a “vintage” tea kettle I’ve had a long time now (it came from a house that was being cleaned out). I previously put decorative stick-on paper on the back of the stove (where the word “Sunray” is) and took many days peeling it off in tiny, tiny, tiny, bits. The color part came up but left the sticky back in place which I proceeded to remove by fingernail (I didn’t want to scratch the stove surface with a tool and nothing I tried would dissolve the sticky stuff). It was the worst part of the project.


The shelf unit to the left of the stove is one I made from scrap wood a few years ago. I fixed it up a bit now by adding colorful place mats I found at Dollar Tree to the bottom door and the top. It was only after I bought them that I saw “Moroccan” on the receipt. Oh well, I’m not splitting (Italian/Moroccan) hairs here! That small $2 fix really spruced up the shelves. I found the retro kitchen timer at a rummage sale last year. It works great.

The cabinets extend on the left side of stove so you can see below where the ivy starts.  I took the blue-checked fabric off the window where it’d served as a curtain and instead hung it in front of an ugly water heater and various cleaning tools (vacuum, brooms, etc). It might be fun to have a red-checked one eventually… but I already had this blue one from a thrift store.


My canned tomato stash is on shelves below the far left cabinet. I also moved my glass jar collection there (from above the kitchen cabinets). I am proud to say I have wittled it down to what you see here in the bag, so far as jars I’m not currently using. (I tend to hang onto glass jars for fear they will one day be unavailable.)

Initially I tried fire-retardant decorative foil-look film over the stove, thinking it would be reflective and add light to the space. It didn’t. I didn’t like it. It absorbed too much light and looked cheap. Instead I put a small piece on the bottom of this 1800’s (or thereabouts 😁)

Recessed lighting of some sort would be nice but plug-in under the cabinet lights suffice. I had one light and added another; they link together. The photo on the left is how it looks straight on and the one on the right lets you see the actual light fixtures.

I found cute retro-style coffee curtains on Amazon. Looking at Amazon gave me general ideas because I wasn’t too sure initially what inexpensive things I could fairly easily do for an Italian theme. Much of what I saw was to cutesy (fat chefs were featured on a lot of decor) but I wanted more authentic, subtle touches.


I eliminated most of the fire-engine red color I’d previously added to the kitchen- I decided it was too much – but have left this lone cabinet over the washing machine that I painted long ago. I toyed with painting it white but as it’s different from the other cabinets, I think it kind of works as red and adds character. I also wanted to show you my “plastic bag hanger” for freshly washed bags that I hung over the washing machine; it’s actually a small laundry hanger in design. And those are just-fit shelves I made a few years back for laundry detergents. It may not look it but you can still open the  right cabinet door.


I took off a dark wood handle I’d put on the kitchen’s token drawer and put this simple white one on instead. Some time back, in search of more space, I’d opened up the area under the sink and made a slipshod “drawer.” It never worked very well so I ditched it and put in this wire basket instead. See where I added more of the ivy stickers just under the sink too. (To the right of the stickers, with the small white-handled door, I made a simple shelf for microwave pans, in what was previously unused space.)

Turning our attention to the other side of the galley kitchen, I painted this previously bright red, tall cabinet door white and added a few ivy stickers. The inside of the door looked awful where I’d tried to peel off stick-on paper rather unsuccessfully, so I added new wood-look paper and a place to hang bag clips.

In my quest to eliminate the fire-engine red (a change I started before I came up with before the Italian theme) I painted the posts and the defunct pipe this red-orange. I eliminated an ugly shelf I’d put over the doorway – the board was warped & the stuff on it wasn’t attractive – and re-housed the stuff I had up there in other places. I got an inexpensive olive-themed clock from Amazon to hang over the doorway but sent it back because it was mediocre quality. I am still looking for the right thing to put there like maybe a tin sign featuring food.


I put fresh paper from Dollar Tree on these open shelves. I didn’t do anything new to these jar shelves by the window that I made (I don’t think) but just wanted to show them to you again.

Here’s a view from outside the kitchen.You can see the new color on the posts, which closely matches the chair. I got a new chair pad for the chair too. The “stone wall” stick-on paper was an earlier project but it complements the Italian theme so that worked out well.


In keeping with my semi-Italian theme, I added these placemats I found on Amazon to the small table.

I don’t think I’m quite done with my kitchen project but I’m really happy with what I’ve done so far. It’s a cheery place to go into now!

Morning awards event (Bargain Style)

This past Friday I went to an awards ceremony/breakfast meeting. I was there as a supportive attendee not an award recipient but it still warranted a decent outfit. The morning was cool but temps were going to heat up later and no doubt there’d be (too much) air conditioning inside the venue (I was right on that score). i wanted to dress appropriately for the conservative-leaning environment – no short, tight dresses 😉 – but still look like me.

I have a beautiful red, long-sleeve Asian style top (not sure what the style is called) that I found many years ago at a church rummage sale but have had few occasions to wear. I’m sure I paid only $1 or $2 for it, a great find. When I found the top it had “matching” black pants but they were short & oddly baggy, not matching me at all so I left them behind. I was amazed that the top, labeled R & M Richards by Karen Kwong, fit as well as it did, with long enough sleeves and fabric that didn’t pull too tightly across my back or shoulders; i.e. I could move freely. To add extra warmth I wore a skinny strapped, fitted black tank top underneath (which I took off after the event so I wouldn’t be too hot outside).

The pull-on style pants I matched the top with are Joe Benbasset in medium, which I found at Ross about two years ago for under $10. Made of Rayon, Nylon & Spandex, they are very comfortable and jet black which is perfect. I’ve slightly altered the pants just a bit by hand-sewing at the hips seams because, as medium-rise pull-on pants, they tended to slide down (irritating holy hell out of me). The slight change made them just right  (a size small in these would probably have been too small/short) and now they stay up without tugging.

I initially wanted to wear black sandals to complete the theme – they looked good! – but it was just too cold in the morning so I went with Easy Spirit flat black ankle boots (a thrift find). Black dress shoes would have worked but currently I have none (black Keds i tried didn’t look right – not that I thought they would). September is a tad early for boots but with long pants the “boot” part wouldn’t show anyway.

I didn’t have time to snap morning pictures and later in the day my hair had been subjected to the 70mph highway winds on the ride home with the honoree (we had the windows down). You’ll see I went with the only earrings I own that have a vaguely Eastern style and added two gold butterfly clips above my ear and on the middle of the braid. I promise my hair was more kempt when the day started – I think when you wear a hair style like this it needs to be sharp and crisp, very polished.


Labor Day weekend “dressy dress” (Bargain Style)

This past weekend I wanted to dress up for an indoor event. I’ve had this gorgeous Ralph Lauren dress in my closet for awhile, waiting for an occasion.  I bought it some time back at Ross for the shocking price of $3.49 (can I find a bargain or what?!) and had yet to remove the tag.  The just-below-knee length dress fits, flatters, and even has a black lining sewn into the front that gives extra “heft” (and I suspect keeps the dress from clinging and traveling around). Because I was going to be in air conditioning I took along a black cropped, unstructured “jacket” (not sure what this garment is specifically called) that ties in front. The little jacket was a thrift store or rummage find; I no longer remember which but it has served me well. I left it untied but just wanted to show you that “feature”.


Apparently this fabulous dress languished at my local Ross for some time if the many reductions are an indication, starting at $50 and ultimately dropping to $3.49 when I lucked into it. I loved the dress on sight and about fell over when I saw the price.


Since the dress has plenty going on already so far as the eye-catching design, I went with simple jewelry, these earrings and a ring, both of which I made.


Because I was going to be on my feet a long time (and I’m over shoes that are only about show) I went with these very comfortable Clarks Active Air sandals, another second-hand find. They’re starting to show wear but I figure I can get more use of of them since nobody is going to be looking at them too closely. I’d never buy a pair of shoes like these new – expensive – so I want to hang onto them longer.IMG_20190904_140209

Lastly, I wore my hair in a high ponytail like this one (sorry, didn’t think to take a photo that actual day).


Casual Summer Sunday Outfit (Bargain Style)

I have this really interesting sleeveless Worthington top with asymmetrical sleeves that I found secondhand.   I love the colors in it and the line pattern makes me think tropical. It’s fitted and lady-like in its cut.


Aside: I also have a Ronni Nicole sleeveless dress in similar colors that I got at Ross marked down to a few dollars.  Something about black/white/lime is very appealing and not a combo I see often.


But this is about the top. I combined it with black shorts. The shorts aren’t dressy but at the moment they’re my only black shorts and I tried them on at it worked. The slight flare in the loose shorts offset the snug fit of the top.

Now here’s where this outfit gets fun. I have knock-off Vans I found at a Five Below store. I like them fine and have gotten good use out of them. They looked just right with this outfit.

Awhile back in a post on “Free and Cheap” things I’d acquired, I showed a couple pairs of sunglasses. I thought the polka-dot cats eyes would be great with the top.  Found at a big indoor yard sale at the fire house, they cost a quarter!




I wore my hair high in a bun and went with large silver hoop earrings. I typically wear colorful, dangly earrings but with a flashy colorful top I sometimes tone down my earrings and any other jewelry and “let the clothes do the talking.”


This is the only other jewelry I wore, a wide green cuff (fiund at a yard sale) that doesn’t get lost with the flash of the rest of the look.


Improvements to my bedroom “decor”

I’ve been tweaking my room for a long time. It was more or less okay when I last posted photo updates in late December but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with what I had on the wall over my bed. Last week I bought myself a present from Ross, a wonderful 30″ wide smiling, metal sun wall decoration for $13. My thought was to hang it over the bed and it did look really good there. However, I got another idea. 

I found a 5.5 foot long painted white board (where else but curbside?😊) and got inspired to make it a shelf high up on the wall behind my bed. I eliminated a shorter lime green shelf from another wall and took objects from it for the new shelf. It’s perfect! I then took one of my favorite framed prints, Anne Worthington’s Sunflower and centered that under the shelf. I flanked the poster with two small mirrors I already had on the wall but just moved them out a bit for balance.  I put the large metal sun to the right over my chair, where it looks terrific and at night is lit by the wall lamp near it. i hung my two long tealight holders on either end of the shelf.  I repositioned every picture & piece of wall art I have for better effect. Want to see it all?




I feel compelled to smile back at him


The hanging moon & Maxwell Parrish print in their new spots

The corner on the left of the bed has long challenged me but I’m much happer with this. Here’s the lamp I found a number of years ago which gave me the overarching co!or theme for the room. Prior to finding this lamp and getting inspired by it, everything i hadwas fairly random and nowhere near as appealing as it is now. The lamp highlights the poster, Morning Bouquet, a print I’ve had – and loved – for decades. My painted lime green long mirror is now in a good spot too. Eventually I’d like to get a nicer long mirror, something more substantial, but this works now.


Lastly, this hasn’t changed, but it’s the opposite wall, the one with the door (and puny closet), which I see every morning when I wake up. It makes me happy and now everything kind of fits together.