Saturday, February 25, 2017

Exploring Sweetwater Creek State Park

Sweetwater Creek State Park is a peaceful tract of wilderness tucked away in Lithia Springs, Georgia.

A local treat for nature lovers and a place for novice and experienced hikers alike to explore the many trails this little gem holds for its guests. I visited the park to spend the day with my son and daughter-in-law and what a work out for an out of shape middle aged woman (LOL). I was amazed by the beauty of the park and its many trails. What a nice way to spend a gorgeous Georgia day.

A wooded trail follows the stream to the ruins of a building, this building, once the New Manchester Manufacturing Company in the 1800s, was burned during the Civil War.

Originally known as the Sweetwater Mill, the mill was created in 1849. Made from materials that were created straight from the natural resources at hand, the mill used the rushing waters of Sweetwater Creek to power a cotton mill that supported an entire factory town during its heyday. However by 1864 the Civil War was nearing its end and the Confederate troops that had protected the area surrounding the mill were forced into retreat. When Union forces marched into the territory they put the entire factory to the flame.

Most buildings that were destroyed in the civil war era were demolished and new construction was built in its place, but because the mill is located in a state park, they've done a great job preserving this piece of Georgia's history. This building was also a location that was used in making of the movie Mockingjay the last installment in The Hunger Games series. In the movie, this area is meant to portray the ruins of District 13, which was bombed and destroyed during the Hunger Games portrayal of their civil war.

I would highly recommend a visit and hopefully it will become a go to destination for you to spend quality time exercising, picnicking or just spending time with family. Don’t forget your four legged family member as the trails and park are very dog friendly.

Click on the link. Sweetwater Creek State Park  for more information and hosted events that go on monthly

Friday, February 24, 2017

First Signs of Spring

Spring is well ahead of schedule here in the south and can’t be far behind in the rest of the US of A. Sprouting flowers and air conditioners running in the month of February leads folks to get out in their yards and begin the fun chore of making the great outdoors beautiful again.

Still a little early to put cheerful flowers and foliage out because we all know old man winter might make a brief appearance before all is said and done. If you want to put some color in your yard, front porch or garden area consider cast iron products that will not be ruined if we have another cold snap.

Signs, porch / garden stakes and hooks (just to name a few) all finished in the bright colorful hues of spring. Makes for a great addition to your outdoor decorating fun.

All items are sealed with several layers of an outdoor sealer to keep them looking fresh all year long no matter what the weather brings.

Check out the full spring line by going to Tamaras Treasure Trove on Etsy

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Shabby Chic Fleur de lis Home Decor

I carry an extensive line of Fleur de lis home decor items in my shop on Etsy, by far the most popular are distressed to create the shabby chic effect.

The English translation of "fleur-de-lis" (sometimes spelled "fleur-de-lys") is "flower of the lily." This symbol, depicting a stylized lily or lotus flower, has many meanings. Traditionally, it has been used to represent French royalty, and in that sense it is said to signify perfection, light, and life.

Shabby chic is a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their appearance of age and signs of wear and tear or where new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique.

I have quite a few loyal customers from Louisiana: the land of Louis, king of France; whose symbol was the Lily flower. New Orleans logically adopted the symbol, which it's local team logically integrated as it's logo. The fleur-de-lis is simply a French symbol used commonly in new orleans to represent new orleans, as well as our french culture.

Shop at Tamaras Treasure Trove

Monday, February 20, 2017

Training My Humans by Gypsy Cat

I have spent the last few months settling into my new home. Training my humans has not been an easy task. Mom decided I should be on a eating regiment of breakfast/dinner meals at a scheduled time much like their own.  Breakfast feeding time would not commence until mom woke up. I prefer 5:30ish so I would pay a visit to her bedside with polite meows which did not work, running across the bed did not work, licking of her hair did not work. Now it is 7:30 and I have been at it for 2 hours when voila she gets up. I eat and go take a nap as all that hard work makes for one tired kitty.

When I awake from my much needed nap I eat a snack and head outdoors. I like to sit with my mom when she is working on her crafty items for her online Etsy store. Everytime she goes inside I run in with her knowing that it must be meal time. While I have an endless supply of hard crunchy food I want my shrimp and tuna wet food. I plead with my eyes, I give the cutest little meow and all I get is “it's not 5 o'clock yet” and back to work she goes. This goes on and off all day long until finally the magical time of 5 o’clock has arrived and I get my yummy meal.

I think this training thing is going to take a little longer than I thought as she is pretty stubborn and determined to stay with this ridiculous feeding schedule. I may have to put my energies on training my dad as he seems to be the weaker link.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

DIY Tile Drink Coasters

I make these fun little coasters to sell and for my personal use.

Through  trial and error I have found the best tiles to use for these types of projects are the tumbled marble stone. The slick ones tend to have the image slide or pull up after prolonged use regardless of how many protective coats I applied. The tumbled marble stone has a slight roughness to it that gives your image a surface to adhere to.

My image preference is cocktail napkins. You will need to gently pull the tissue backing off the napkins to make the image thinner (do this slowly to prevent tearing). You are now ready to cut in 4x4 squares and begin the process of:

  • Apply 1 coat of Mod Podge to front of tile (sponge brush is what works best for me)
  • Place tissue/wrapping paper on the wet Mod Podge, must dry thoroughly or you risk tearing of the paper.
  • Apply 2 coats of Mod Podge on top of the glued tissue/wrapping paper (keep your brush strokes going in the same direction to keep the streaking down)
  • Apply 3 coats of Polyacrylic for waterproofing (allow 6-8 hrs dry time between coats).
  • Stick felt pads to the bottom of each coaster. ...
  • Let them sit for 3 days before using for proper sealing time otherwise they may be slightly tacky.

You can use wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, photos printed on matte paper, book pages, sheet music or pretty much any other paper product.

Coaster Category @ TamarasTreasureTrove on Etsy

Friday, February 17, 2017

Who Let The Dogs Out Cast Iron Home Decor

Decorative heavy duty cast iron dog hooks can showcase your love for your favorite four legged family member. My Etsy storefront has a nice variety of pet themed home decor that range from hooks, Beware of Dog Signs and door stops

Tamaras Treasure Trove on Etsy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My Favorite Homemade Chalk Paint Recipe

I passed up many a piece of furniture in my hunt for the perfect resell items to stock my booth with. Pieces were just too rough to restore with furniture polish and I was not up for the task of striping , patching and restaining. To be perfectly honest people just do not want to pay premium prices in second hand markets. The man hours it takes to restore a piece back to its original beauty is not worth what people are willing to pay.

I was hearing about chalk paint and how you could use it with little to no prep. Shabby Chic was a term I was not familiar with (at the time in 2012) so I took to the internet to research. I liked the look and wondered if others in my area would too. Via the internet I bought my first can of chalk paint and painted my 1st piece. I placed it in my booth and within days it sold so I tried another and it sold quickly. Wow I was onto something. The cost of a small quart of this majic paint mixture was a steep $35/quart plus shipping (the only way you could get it was online back in the day).

Back to the internet for some ideas where I stumbled across a chalk paint recipe.

4 Tbsp Plaster of Paris
2 Tbsp Water
1 Cup of Paint (Flat or Satin)

This created the look and durability I was looking for at a fraction of the price. Plaster of Paris was available at most craft stores so I was cooking with gas.  After using for approximately a month I decided to try a different recipe. Why you ask….well this was drying too fast causing lumps in my mixture within 10-15 minutes of mixing up. This did not allow me enough time to paint an entire piece of furniture and mixing smaller batches wasn’t an option as I would have to stop and mix up every 10 minutes or so. Clean up was horrible.

Next I tried unsanded grout which was another easily available item I can find locally, this time at home improvement stores.

4 Tbsp Unsanded Grout
2 Tbsp Water
1 Cup of Paint (Flat or Satin)

This method I did not care for at all. It was not smooth (too grainy) no matter which consistency I mixed it with.

Last but not least was the Calcium Carbonate recipe.

4 Tbsp Calcium Carbonate
2 Tbsp Water
1 Cup of Paint (Flat or Satin)
Calcium Carbonate was not available to me locally so off to Amazon I go to order my 1st bag and I fell in love. Smooth, clean and my mixture would stay as crisp and clean feeling even the next day (if my project ran over).

For years I painted every piece of furniture I could find with my new found recipe. I loved painting different colors (by far the classic Shabby White is the best selling then and now). My second best selling color was a turquoise with a brown wax.

Now that I have downsized my booth to a sweet little 5x3 space to concentrate on my Etsy store I don’t paint like I used to but when I do it is with the Calcium Carbonate recipe.

My 5x3 booth located at The Checkerberry in Bowdon, Ga. it is accented with picture frames, candlesticks, wood signs, coasters, mason jars and any other small items that I come across all painted in chalk paint and distressed for the shabby/cottage chic look. Painting is not just for upcycling furniture it is for anything you want to add a little upcycled style to.

  • When mixing your chalk paint recipe always thoroughly mix the water and ingredient of your choosing separately first before adding to your paint color.
  • Paint (1-2 coats - chalk paint usually dries in 15-20 minutes) 
  • Distress using sand paper (either hand or the use of a palm sander)
  • Wax
  • Let it cure for at least 24 hours - 48 hours even better

Waxing is important to add a protective layer to furniture especially those pieces that will see a lot of traffic (ex. tabletops). If you do not want to spend the extra time that goes into waxing I have had great success with a brush on polycrylic water based top coat by minwax (also available in a spray on - but this can get expensive)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Decorative Cast Iron Shabby Chic Brackets

Brackets have many uses other than the standard use of holding up a shelf to display our books and treasures. Thanks to the website Pinterest you can search, find and pin all your ideas in one handy place.  

I carry different styles of cast iron decorative brackets at Tamaras Treasure Trove on Etsy . They are painted and distressed in sets of the popular shabby chic styles so they are ready to go when they arrive at your home. I have added pairs in the natural cast iron (unpainted) if you want to “do it yourself” or if you prefer the rustic look that unpainted cast iron provides.

Bracket/Brace Idea Usage

  • Create a stylish shelf (add a natural or painted board and attach to the wall)
  • Bookends  (add L shaped wood to bottom/side for stability)
  • Shutter Shelf  (bracket in the L fold of the shutter)
  • Window decoration (attach in the corners of your window)
  • Entryway decoration (attach in the corners of the hallway openings in your home)
  • Door Decor (attach in the frame of your doorway)
  • Add crates much like you would a shelf for more storage room

I have added a collage of pictures downloaded from Pinterest to get the creative juices flowing with just a few of the ideas pictured here.

These brackets add a more stylish way to add flair to your home/office/craft room decor. Cast iron adds durability to any project as they are heavy duty and more substantial than common home improvement braces.

The possibilities are endless so start planning your next project today.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Settling Into My FurEver Home by: Gypsy The Cat

As I settle into my new digs I wonder if I will be able to stay inside or when the weather warms up will I find myself an outdoor kitty. I think my new humans like me (what's not to like). The female human leaves for a while as I hide from the male human planning my next step not wanting to mess anything up. After 30 minutes or so the door opens and in walks the female human carrying a litter box (I haven’t seen one of those in 8 plus months). I feel encouraged as that must mean they are going to let me stay. I hope she gets it all set up in a hurry as I really gotta go, gotta go right now.

I spend the next few weeks exploring my new home at night while the humans sleep. It is really nice here. No more hunting for food, no more sleeping in uncomfortable places, no more irritating critters invading my space as I now have a great big home all to myself. I still long for the great outdoors, the sunshine, the trees for sharpening my claws (they won’t let me do this on the furniture) the fresh air. I do go out during the day and play with my chipmunk, squirrel and bird friends but when I stand in front of the door I get to come back in to rest and sleep (I now have my own bed) life is good.

I hear my humans having discussions about what to name me. I already have a name but oh well whatever makes them happy. Discussions  go on for days, the female human wants to name me Bella while the male human wants to name me Gypsy. Guess who wins….the male human as I now answer to the name Gypsy. His clever reasoning was that I roamed the land for months much like a Gypsy would.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Treasure Hunt Begins

I started my booth with items I had collected thru the years, this seems to be the way the majority of people begin their life as a antique mall vendor. With the passing of my husband in 2007 and the loss of my job in 2008 I was determined to downsize my home and what better way to do it but to fill my booth with the treasures of my past. I was ready to let go of a few things as it was my way of trying to pick myself up and have a clean start.

With my 1st booth set and ready for business my next quest would be how to keep it full. The country was faced with a time where people were out of work (2009) and looking for a way to survive so they turned to having yard sales. It was a full time job going to what seemed like endless yard sales. I drove hundreds of miles each Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s that summer. It was a bittersweet time, people selling off their treasures including treasures from the past while at the same time mall dealers had the opportunity to acquire vintage items at a resellable price for their booths.

This was all new territory for me as I enjoyed my new found freedom of shopping and being outdoors with the sun shinning on my face instead of sitting behind a desk. I had a modest savings account that afforded me the opportunity to pursue my dream of doing something I loved. I had no idea at the time of how long it would take me to turn a profit from my new career direction but I was determined to make it a success.

I’ve listed a few of my favorite places to find product

  • The easiest and most plentifully place to find product would be yard sales (this is seasonal)
  • I have friends who love auctions (found out I was not a fan early on)
  • Thrift stores
  • Flea Markets
  • Surprisingly: antique malls (booth closing sales)
  • Estate Sales (I shy away from the ones that are professionally ran as prices tend to be very high)
  • Craigslist

I was able to build a vast inventory with little investment that first summer.

Pictured are some of my personal favorite finds from the past.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Trivets for Stylish Decor and a Unique Gift Idea

Trivets are a fun and easy way to decorate your kitchen, dining room table, countertops and I have had customers send me photos of where they hung them on the wall for a unique home decor decoration.

You can find a growing inventory of colorful, stylish and whimsical cast iron trivets at:

My Start as a Antique Mall Mini Entrepreneur

Starting a booth in my first antique mall was exciting, hard work and a little scary. My first experience was in a new mall where everyone was building their space from scratch which made it less intimidating. I moved in all my furniture pieces and staged them within the space I had rented. This took a minute as I rearranged it a few times before I got it the way I wanted (it always looks different in my mind)

I recall sitting on the floor trying to polish out some scratches on a sweet little china cabinet I had in my home for years when a man and his wife walked up and asked if they could give me some advice. Of course I was eager to learn as I accepted the pearls of wisdom this couple wanted to share. The husband said he would be right back and walked away while his wife stayed to introduce themselves and share some background with me on their history in the antique business. Her husband returned with some 000 steel wool and a tin of Restor-a-finish in his hand ready to show me the quick and easy way to make my furniture look new again. I looked puzzled as I was just sure that steel wool would scratch my furniture instead of smoothing it out. He poured out a small dot of Howards on the 000 steel wool, told me to apply it in the direction of the grain and like magic, easy peasy my furniture was like new again.

Moral of the story: listen to your elders, invest in the proper tools and your journey will be easier. At the time in 2008 Restor-a-finish 1) wasn’t as easily available as it is today 2) was more expensive than most furniture polish but is so worth the money as it does smooth the finish out along with the time savings in labor which far outweighs the cost.

I made some new friends that day, good people that I still call friends today.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Decoupage to make the old look new again

Decoupage has been around longer than you think. According to Wikipedia the word decoupage comes from Middle French "decouper", meaning to cut out or cut from something. The origin of decoupage is thought to be East Siberian tomb art and can date back as early as the early 1700's.

Metal Table w/Decoupage Poster
You can find homemade recipes to use during the process but we have all heard of Mod Podge which is my prefered way to decoupage. Interesting fact: The name Mod Podge originated from Modern Decoupage. It was invented by an interior designer in the 1960's by the name of Jan Welstone.

Crafters, upcyclers and artists alike use this process to make things pretty or jazz up a project and even a piece of furniture.

I use the following tips as my step by step guidelines when decoupaging:

  • Prepare your surface. Most surfaces can be used to create a decoupage project including wood, papier mache, terra cotta, tin, cardboard and glass (plastic not so much)

  • Wood Ladder
    If you are working on an unfinished surface (ex: raw wood) I would suggest a base coat even if it is a clear base coat.

  • Cut your items to be decoupaged to fit the surface you will adhere to.

  • Apply mod podge (keep in mind too little Mod Podge and you will get wrinkles) – you can always wipe away any excess Mod Podge

  • Smooth, smooth, smooth out your material to get all the wrinkles out. You can use a brayer, rolling pin and even an old credit card. Work from the middle outward.

  • Add a protective coat of Mod Podge to your project using a sponge or flat brush. Allow 15-20 minutes for it to dry before applying the next coat of mod podge. Recommended two coats minimum but I sometimes use more depending on the project.. When you finish, if you experience any tackiness or just want to add durability, add a clear spray or brush-on sealer to the top. Let it dry and you’re all done.
Wood Tray & Rolling pin

I find second hand items that others have given up on and repurpose them with a new look all with the help of Miss Mod Podge.

Experiment and have fun with it.

Monday, February 6, 2017

In The Beginning

Running my Etsy store has afforded me the opportunity to live the American Dream of owning my own business. To make it a success you have to set aside a consistent work week and put in the hours you would as if you were accountable to an employer.

I tried Etsy back in 2009 for about 4 months and did not find it to be a venue that would bring me the success I was looking for. I believe they were still trying to find their standing in the marketplace.

I starting scouting out local antique/craft malls to try my hand at resell and fell in love with the idea of having a small shop without the risks. I rented a small 10x10 space in a new mall that was opening up in my area. This worked for me at the time since you could do this with little to no investment.
The hunt was on to fill my little shop with treasures to resell. I frequented thrift stores, other antique malls, flea markets and yard sales. I bought what I loved (the hardest thing I figured out real fast was that not everyone loved what I loved) so there was a learning curve. You have to be interested enough to learn your market and what people are looking for in your part of the world to buy for resell accordingly. I would take my treasures home to clean, upcycle and restore them to a like new condition for its next owner to enjoy.

I loved my new path in life and it was a long hard road to get to where I am today so over the next few months I will share my adventures with you that  lead me to the success I am currently enjoying on Etsy today.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

My 1st Blog Post by Gypsy the Cat

Back in the spring of 2014 I suddenly found myself homeless. What happened to my previous momma I can not say. I roamed the streets looking for a safe place to survive and stay out of the elements. I came across a nice stretch of property that had lots of hiding places on it and buildings to sleep under. For many months I slept during the day and spent my nights looking for food and water staying out of the sightline of the two humans that lived here.

Fall came when suddenly the male human started leaving out a nice big bowl of wet food nightly before going to bed. I guess he spotted me darting from one place to another trying to survive. Wow how lucky is this after 5 months he has decided to feed me some yummy food but the female human still hasn’t taken much notice  (why I don’t know as I am just so stinking cute).

Months go by,  Christmas comes and goes, 2015 New Year has come and gone while the male human sets out my nightly bowl of food. Female human still no change. Oh well I am liking the lay of the land and my nightly feast so I stay.

The end of January 2015 we have our first freeze warning here in Georgia. This is my 1st weather hazard since being on my own. I stay snuggled under one of the buildings out back trying to stay warm. I do not leave my warm place to eat my dinner as it is so cold. I venture out in the morning to find my meal frozen solid, hungry I lick and lick and lick to get the food edible with no luck.

I hear the front door open (I don’t run off as I am so hungry) I look up to find the female human standing there with a fresh bowl of warm food inviting me to come in and enjoy my meal in the comforts of the home I have been dreaming of for 8 months.

I knew this would make a good home for me and I was right. Hope, faith and patience paid off as I now have a happy home with a good momma and daddy who treat me like the princess that I knew I was meant to be.