RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Thrift stores

Gold Leaf Lamp (How to Gold Leaf Awesome)

Gold Leaf Lamp (How to Gold Leaf Awesome)

I have been wanting to gold leaf something for a while. It just always seemed so awesome.

I really love the idea of mixing gold leaf with matte finishes.

This old lamp was FREE because some guy was just cleaning out his garage. I thought it was a garage sale, so I made my boyfriend pull over (he LOVES it when I do that).

This is what the free lamp looked like.

This is what the free lamp looked like.

First, I sprayed it yellow. I always meant to change the lampshade, but never got around to it.

That is, until I decide to gold leaf this thing! Then, I went to Walmart and got this lamp shade for just $13.

This is the lamp after I first sprayed it yellow. Ugly lamp shade, but it was free... so yeah...

This is the lamp after I first sprayed it yellow. Ugly lamp shade, but it was free… so yeah…

I bought the gold leaf kit for around $10 on Amazon. It includes the gold leaf, the adhesive, and also the sealer.

First, I sprayed the lamp a matte white (after taping off the cord and the electrical socket). I love the look of matte finishes with metallics. The contrast is great.

Second, I taped off the stripes that I wanted. I used two different widths of painter’s tape (which is why some stripes are beige and some stripes are blue).

Use tape to mark off the parts you don't want painted.

Use tape to mark off the parts you don’t want painted.

Then, I applied the adhesive lightly with a sponge applicator. Let it dry for about 15 minutes, and start applying the gold leaf. If you miss any spots, it’s OK. You can come back and fill it in by adding more adhesive and more gold leaf.  You basically just put the gold leaf directly on the adhesive and rub it with a brush or your finger to make sure it’s stuck down well.

The lines aren't perfect, but that's OK.

The lines aren’t perfect, but that’s OK.

Finished! The light isn't great, but the lamp came out awesome.

Finished! The light in the photo isn’t great, but the lamp came out awesome.

The stripes are not perfect. Gold leaf is not really a tidy adventure, but from a far, you cannot really see the less-than-perfect parts.

The gold leaf instructions say that you should seal it, but I figure the lamp won’t get man-handled too much, so I skipped that step. If I was doing something that would get more touching, I would definitely seal it.

I love how it all turned out. It only cost me a lamp shade and a gold leaf kit (I have most of the kit left too, so I am like Midas – constantly looking for more things to turn gold).

Gold stripes and matte white finish.

Gold stripes and matte white finish.

What else can I gold leaf?

What else can I gold leaf?

What do you think? Do you guys freaking love gold as much as this girl?

Golden love,


Weird Day

Weird Day

Yesterday was weird. Today is a little weird, but less so.

Warning: Serious topic post below.

I am currently doing a substantive edit of my student note (which is somewhat like a master’s thesis, but for law students). It’s about the legality of preventive strikes on nuclear reactors, to be published this summer.

In between working on this note, I wrote a post about Valentine’s Decorations. I did that all day yesterday: switching back and forth from talking about pink felt hearts and then terrorist acquisition of fissile material. I’m doing the same thing today, but I guess with less of a focus on my love of pink, and more of a focus on my dislike of nuclear weapons.

And then I started wondering, what is going to happen when I am a big kid? What will happen when people google me to see what I have written: a sixty-something page legal article on nuclear weapons and a blog post about how important it is to throw dinner parties? Fortunately, Rachel Weisz, the actress, is usually the first 50 or so hits on google, which provides me with a layer of anonymity, but that could change.

This blog is supposed to be a space for me to do the creative things I love in my spare time, while I pursue a career in international law. And it is that. But I do worry about whether I could ever be taken seriously as a top nuclear negotiator when the person across the table may have seen my blog, and knows that I spent Saturday baking and frosting a cake to look like a dog. Will that hurt my professional persona?

Madeiline Abright. Now I don't know about whether or not she baked, but I do know that she always wore fabulous jewelry and everyone took her seriously.*

And what really gets my goat?! Is that I shouldn’t have to worry if my personal career will be hurt because I like to sew! A man’s career isn’t hurt if someone knows that he likes to make his girlfriend dinner or have nice furniture. Yet, I feel like mine might be impacted by this. Part of me wants to be defiant. To dare people to judge my intelligence based on my looks and pass-times, because I will show them wrong. The other part of me wonders if it wouldn’t be so much easier to conform? To pretend like I don’t like sewing, and embrace the bra-burning feminism of the 70s.

Maybe Golda Meir liked to make a noodle kuggel and feed her kids and grandchildren.

The 70s were a long time ago. Isn’t the idea behind feminism today that it doesn’t matter what life choices you make (whether to be a mom or a business lady), what’s important is that today women actually have that choice?

I once gave a presentation in graduate school about the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Afterwards, the woman who was leading the public speaking seminar told me that she didn’t expect anything so serious to come out of my mouth, given my blonde hair and pretty necklace, that maybe I should work on looking more serious. I almost lost it. I felt like she was telling me I had to cut/die my hair and wear a less stylish outfit, just to get my point across. (For the recond: I was wearing a black pencil skirt, rose cami and grey cardigan, with multiple-strand pearl necklace – a completely appropriate business casual outfit.) Like people couldn’t or wouldn’t listen to me because of what I look like?!? A friend of mine said I should have asked her if her girdle was too tight.

Hilary is blonde too! And I know for a fact that she picks modern art out of the State Department art collection to keep her office looking nice.

So here’s a question to you, ladies: To be a leader in a man’s world, do I have to act like a man? Should I worry that all my carefree writings about thrifting/baking/sewing/crafting/decorating are going to hurt my “serious” man’s-world career aspirations? Am I only allowed to wear gray and black and navy from here on out?!

Margaret may have been a man in a man's world, but I feel like she might have had a collection of antique tea cups at home. Or something British like that.

I really hope not. I love doing all those domestic things and wearing pink. And I love writing about those domestic things and my love of pink. And I love writing about the legality of preventive strikes on nuclear reactors in the name of self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter? Can’t I love do both?

Elle Woods - Likes dogs, glitter, fashion, and the law. If only there could be a musical montage in my life where I study super hard and graduate head of my law school class!

I want to be defiant. To make it OK for girls to love Hello Kitty (you know who you are 😉 ) and to talk about nuclear weapons with the big boys. So I’m going to keep on blogging. And I will keep on working towards becoming an international leader too. I refuse to let those things be mutually exclusive.

(I) Love (pink and nuclear non-proliferation),


* I saw Madeiline Albright in a bathroom once. She was wearing the most incredible turquoise necklace, earrings, and maybe a bracelet. Love her!

Gold and Brass and Plastic: Thrift Store Scores!

Gold and Brass and Plastic: Thrift Store Scores!

I went to Baltimore a few weekends ago to hang with my BFF. We did some MAJOR thrift store trips, including stopping by an incredible non-profit salvage yard called Second Chance that hires ex-convicts and trains them on how to remove architectural features from buildings facing demolition so that the pieces can be salvaged. It seems like a great program, and they had AMAZING stuff ranging from antique furniture to old wood ovens to giant mantlepieces. If you are in Baltimore or anywhere near, I recommend stopping by. They have 5 or 6 warehouses. FIVE OR SIX WAREHOUSES. You read that right.

It's hard to photograph hallways and stairways. No good angles.

Since I wasn’t looking to install a whole mantleplace in my apartment, I didn’t get anything at Second Chance. However, a few of the many thrift stores we hit up that day (three or four?) had some great stuff.

I have been looked for thrifted owl stuff for ages to no avail. On our second swing through the houseware/chotsky section, BFF found this guy (moral: always go through each section twice). She didn’t see the potential, but I had told her that if she saw ANY owls that I had dibs. It is plastic, about 12 inches tall, and has a wall-hangy thing on the back already. How much? $2.99. Maybe a little steep, but owls are hard to come by.

I know you don't see the potential, but just wait!

Well, first thing I did was spray paint my new friend gold.

After spray paint, before antiquing glaze. Starting to see it, huh?

Then to make it look like, well, an antique, I coated it with Valspar antiquing glaze, making sure to get the glaze into all the little nooks and crannies.

He looks so regal sitting on the wall, at the top of the stairs now, doesn’t he? He needs a name…. Hmm….Suggestions? What about Philbert? Eugene? Ooooh…. I am liking Eugene. I will let it ruminate for a little bit before I make it official, but I am liking Eugene.

Standing guard at the top of the stairs - always vigilant and always welcoming me home!

So now you are probably thinking that the painting below Eugene is a little weird. And you would be right. It’s a little weird. But the frame is awesome. I got the painting for the frame at another Baltimore thriftstore for $8. I almost passed it up, but so glad that I didn’t.

Nice size, lovely patina. Ignore the bizarre painting - you can change that.

I am actually planning to switch out the oil painting with one of my own. Guess what I’m going to paint!? Guess!

AN OWL!!! I’m gonna paint a little owl friend for Eugene and it will be awesome. Boyfriend may have called me the weird girl with lots of owls earlier today. But I only have two now. You haven’t met the other one yet (you will). But two owls does not a “crazy oil lady” make. Just saying.

Didn't need to do anything to this. Perfect as it is.

I got this mirror at the same thrift store as the picture frame. I think the mirror was $20. Which is WAY more than I like spending on thrifted good. But it was awesome. And I knew I would regret it. So I bought it. Super good decision.

Because now, the gold owl and frame, and this brassy mirror all hang at the top of my stairwell, making an interesting statement. Not sure what that statement is yet, but it’s interesting at least. 🙂

I dig it. You may or may not. But that’s OK. I have fun new pieces to talk about, and my new friend, Eugene.

Another shot of my new triptic of thrifted finds.

It’s really hard to get a good photograph in my stairwell. The light is terrible and the angles are impossible. Apologies.

I hope I have inspired you to get thrifting. But just remember, if you find something awesome, you should buy it. Because if you don’t, I will. And then you will see it on my blog all awesomized and you will kick yourself for letting it get away.

You have fair warning. Ready, set, thrift!



I’m Partying Here:

French Country Cottage

Common Ground

Happy Hour Projects

Tater Tots and Jello

Funky Junk Interiors

Be Different, Act Normal

The Tablescaper

Between Naps on the Porch

House of Grace

Coastal Charm

A Diamond in the Stuff

Not Just a Housewife

Type A Decorating

Giggles Glitz and Glam

My Uncommon Slice of Surburbia

Domestically Speaking

Saavy Southern Style

DIY by Design

A Beach Cottage (Though their linky party is a little glitchy today, and poor Mrs. Beach suffered a terrible bug bite. Get well soon!)

No Minimalist Here

Somewhat Simple

The Shabby Creek Cottage

Can You Believe This?

OK, so in case it wasn’t clear how much I love thrift stores, OMG – I love thrift stores!!!

To celebrate finishing my microeconomics midterm, I went to Salvation Army with a buddy. And I saw the MOST wonderful thing ever:

It’s a full dining set. And in case you cannot tell, the glass table top is held up by three ceramic swans. And the chairs looks like they are carved wood. And have faded floral VINYL seats. I mean, even in the 80’s was this fashionable? Did Fresh Prince have this table set in Malibu?

Wanna know the best part? This table was ALREADY sold! Amazing! Someone walked into Salvation Army after their midterm (or whatever) and saw this table and had to have it?! For the steal price of $184.95? Seriously, $184.95 USED?!?!

The crazy ridiculousness of this just had to be shared. It totally made my day, and I hope it makes your day too!

What are some totally awesome things that you have seen at the thrift store? Please share. I am curious if anyone can top the swan table.

Yours in swan love,


Adorable Vanity Re-Do

Adorable Vanity Re-Do

Despite the fact that I am now incredibly busy with school, I put in a good many hours trying to get this vanity re-do done quickly for two reasons: 1. I need to finish unpacking. I have been living in my apartment for almost a month. This is getting ridiculous. And 2. I really really REALLY wanted to enter something awesome in the Crafting with the Stars contest on Sew Dang Cute, and TODAY IS THE DEADLINE. So I scrambled. And this is also the reason that this post is not as witty as my usual posts – I just want to enter the contest super badly so I am writing quickly. I will try to edit this post later, and maybe make it better.

Here is the finished product:

Isn’t she adorable? She was SOOOOOO much work, you would not even believe. And about half way through, I decided that I hated her. And then I kept working on her and fell in love with her again. It turns out the selections for Crafting with the Stars are being decided by judges, not just by vote. However, you can go to this facebook page, and tell the judges which projects you think are awesome.

I am having a hard time figuring out this button thingy – so here is the link for the contest too in case the button doesn’t link you:

Now gather around children, and I will tell you all about the saga of this vanity… Read the rest of this entry

Why I LOVE Garage Sales

Why I LOVE Garage Sales

This weekend was epic for garage-saling (garage-sailing? like the boat? I glide and tack from one sale to another?… Anyway…). I think that as people realize summer is over, they are getting more anxious about finally having that garage sale that they planned to have back in June. Or maybe they know that Princeton is crawling with poor grad students looking to furnish apartments. Whatever the reason, I am thrilled to reap the rewards.

Garage sales can be hit or miss, which is what adds to the excitement. You never know what you are going to find, or what you will see and fall in love with. And how little money someone is willing to accept for you to take away their trash treasure. In addition to the adventure, usually the people selling are friendly and helpful. One of this weekend’s garage sales even include free iced tea. Score!

There are two good times to go to a garage sale: First, RIGHT when the sale STARTS. That’s what you have the best pick of all the stuff.  Oddly enough, the other good time to go to the sale is RIGHT at the END of the sale. By that time the sellers are tired. They don’t want to move their crap back into the garage, or load it into a car and drive to Goodwill. So they are vulnerable and desperate  very willing to bargain. At the end of a garage sale, sometimes almost everything becomes free. Or large portions of it. Paradoxically, it’s best to be at a garage sale both first and last, but not in the middle. Good things come to those who arrive super early, and/or to those who wait. Go figure.

Read the rest of this entry

Furniture Sale!

After a little hiatus, I am back to the blogosphere. My three subscribers may have missed me!

And, I am back with booty. Furniture booty, to be exact. There is a great used furniture store that was moving, so everything was 40% off. As I am getting ready to furnish an apartment, this was very exciting!

Though I haven’t had time to polish up and refurbish the great finds I found, I couldn’t wait to share with the interwebs:

First, I got this AMAZING copper coffee table for $90. Once it’s cleaned and polished it will make an incredible statement piece in what I hope will be a sophisticated, calming and eclectic living room.

Read the rest of this entry