How It Started vs How It’s Going

The minute I saw these midnight black champagne flutes at an estate sale I knew it was perfect for my wine cabinet. I guess you can call it a house swap!

A short time later I found matching wine glasses…I guess you can call that a gift from the universe!

Nobody’s Gonna Know

For years I stared at my bland staircase and dreamed of it looking…well anyway other than the way it did. If only I could knock out the wall and expose the staircase, but that takes money and finding someone that knows what they are doing. I didn’t have the funds or patience for either. Right when I thought my options were nonexistent, hope appeared.

One quick, budget friendly way to update a staircase is to paint the handrail. I scrounged up two cans of paint from the garage and somehow a masterpiece was done. Because I literally had this paint for over 5 years, it’s safe to say this was a zero dollar project! Here’s a look at the before.

I originally wanted to paint the entire handrail (split level) black, but the can was mostly empty. I did have, however, an unopened Behr paint and primer in Rich Mahogany that was going to have to do!

Here’s what it looked like after one coat. I was starting to get nervous, but knew I had to trust the process.

After a few coats of Rich Mahogany, I then applied a thin layer of black paint. The results were a beautiful stained wood effect. Nobody’s gonna know that this was a DIY! How would they know?

DIY Kid Furniture Makeover

My son, Art Effect Kid, decided to take matters into his own hands and update his favorite bookcase he’s had since first grade. That typically would spell disaster… but even I was impressed with the final reveal.

Check out Art Effect Kid’s DIY LED bookcase using supplies around the house!

Furniture: Cube Storage Bookcase (found around 5 years ago at a local thrift store for $10)

Supplies: Black Spray Paint (already on hand from previous projects) and White Motion Activated LED Strip Light ($12.99) from Hobby Lobby


The original bookcase was a natural, light wood color. It took approximately 6 spray cans to cover the entire bookcase. Not sure if that sounds excessive, but some spray cans weren’t full because they were previously used in other projects. He didn’t do any sanding or other prep work other than wiping away any obvious dust.

After a few hours, the bookcase was dry and ready to move inside. I recommend leaving the furniture outdoors overnight to make sure the spray paint smell is gone. The Kid was a bit impatient and didn’t want to wait til morning!

The led strips were placed around the top edge on the back of the bookcase. This allowed the light to reflect off the back of the wall. Took 5 minutes top-the back was self adhesive so it was quick and easy to apply!

One pack of LED lights was an exact fit!

One proud tween and his dog! I give this makeover 5 stars!

Christmas Magic or Just A Bunch of Smoke?

Let’s talk about the magic of Christmas. You know, Santa and his crew sliding down chimneys leaving presents for good little boys and girls and lumps of coal for those who have been naughty. Is it all a bunch of smoke? Is it fair to believe in Santa when so many families are struggling financially especially during COVID? I saw this post online and wanted to share my thoughts.

I am part of the guilty parents committee that still leaves presents from Santa for my kid. Last year, Santa delivered a hoverboard, an action camera, and a VR headset. Even though he’s 12 now, he chooses to still believe. Trust me, I have tried to convince him to let Santa come for the little ones but he looked me dead in the eyes and declared that Santa must come this year. Looks like Santa will be creeping through our sliding door again this year (our alternative entrance since we don’t have a chimney!). While writing this post, I asked my son what does Santa represent for him. He responded it’s the excitement of opening different gifts on Christmas morning. Gifts from Mom, aunties, uncles, grandparents…and Santa. It doesn’t matter if it’s one gift per person it’s the idea that he received love from so many people on this day and for an only child that’s major.

So let’s tackle the first sentence in ALL CAPS, might I add, from the post-Stop telling kids expensive gifts are from Santa. I understand that other kids aren’t as fortunate. Hell, I was that “other kid”. Growing up we knew Christmas as Jesus’ Birthday and that’s all. Gifts under the tree weren’t ever from Santa, but like many kids, we watched the Christmas Story and all the other sappy, make believe movies about Christmas magic. I remember one year getting jeans (ugh, getting clothes for Christmas as a kid is the absolute worst) and a used (it wasn’t even in a box) Easy Bake Oven when my sister and I already had one. It didn’t get any better when we later visited our cousins’ house and saw all the cool stuff they got for Christmas that we didn’t. Based on my memory, that was the worst Christmas ever. But we never blamed Santa, we blamed our circumstances. Our mom was raising four kids on her own and money was always tight. Truth is, when you’re poor the fantasy is that Santa always has more money than your parents! A gift from Santa is exactly what we needed as kids.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I go into debt on Christmas just to impress my kid. It does mean that I use all the resources I can to make this day as magical as possible, even when the gifts are donated, discounted, refurbished, or used. When I was making minimum wage, I received Toys for Tots donations to place under the tree from Santa. When I couldn’t afford a huge tree, I decorated a small tabletop tree from the thrift store. Even with the advancement of my career, I still buy refurbished electronics and shop for the best deals. The hoverboard last year was from his Granddad that agreed to say the gift was from Santa. More importantly, I remind my son of the true meaning of Christmas, as we watch Christmas movies together, bake cookies, drive around to see Christmas lights, and bond. I even leave a bit of “Santa dust”, where I sprinkle a trail of flour and glitter on the floor to show Santa was here. In my opinion, it’s the magic of Christmas that makes kids feel good enough. A $10 toy from Santa can feel like a million bucks in a warm and loving home. It doesn’t take a lot of expensive toys or a huge budget to create Christmas magic and it doesn’t hurt to say a really good gift that you worked hard for is from Santa.

Join the discussion below. Do you think it’s not fair if Santa leaves some kids socks and others a hoverboard? Does it make a difference if the hoverboard was from a parent and the socks were from Santa?

Holiday Fuss

2020 has been a year of _________ (fill in the blank).

Creativity. Through adversity we’ve launched a new business venture, Art Effect Kid, LLC and Kid Coffee, as well as revamped our website. It’s also been a year of fun house projects. My first and biggest decorating project for the Thanksgiving holiday was setting my dining table, Pinterest-style.

The center of my theme was a black and white damask table cover from Dollar Tree. I was quite surprised at how well it fit. Although it didn’t hang as long as I preferred, once the chairs were in place the cover’s shortness of length was less noticeable.

Figuring out exactly how to set the table was a bit of trial and error. Every fancy table setting has candles so I figured that would be a good place to start. I grabbed my fav vintage brass candle holders and “good dishes”, the only full set I have without any dings. Even after covering the gray dining chairs with a mustard yellow cover (courtesy of Wish.com), I was underwhelmed with the overall look. The table was drab. What am I missing?

When I wasn’t sure what direction to go in, I kept going back to these saved pins from Pinterest. The gold spray painted pumpkin was a bit over the top for me, but I loved the pop of color and it also reminded me that I had real pumpkins that I could use. The table garland also gave me the idea to create my own using craft supplies around the house!

The transformation was fun and exciting! I created the table centerpiece by wrapping an artificial Hanging Eucalyptus Bush (used in my DIY: Globe Hanging Planter) around my brass candle holders and a glass hurricane. For florals, I used Dollar Tree peonies and red roses. I love how the colors created a romantic, moody vibe. For a touch of fall décor, I added a small orange and white pumpkin. The napkins and cutlery were also Dollar Tree! No need to fuss with fancy napkin folding with these “ready sets”. The black champagne flutes were an estate sale find, however there’s a similar set available on Amazon (Artland Flute Glasses/$64.00). To tie it all together and add a bit of fancy, I included personalized table number frames from, yup Dollar Tree!

Since I was on a roll, why not create my own menus!

I’ve always prepared a menu to keep track of groceries to buy and meal prep. Since fancy on a budget was the motive, I decided to print a black and white menu showcasing the appetizers, main course, side dishes and dessert. The rosemary branch was from my backyard-a convenient and personal touch!

Love the idea of having a Thanksgiving or Holiday menu? Download my menu template and create your own.


Here’s a final look at my Thanksgiving table setting! I purchased a second table cover to create an outdoors table setting as well. Don’t’ forget to include you balcony, patio or backyard as an option to enjoy appetizers or dessert.