Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound

I reached the age . . . somewhere around 40 . . .  where my arms aren’t long enough to read. The eye doctor said that dreaded word,


The top of my glasses is for seeing far away, the bottom for seeing close up. When I recline, the angle has me looking through the bottom of my glasses and I have trouble focusing on the TV!TV on TV Stand "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound"

David has the same problem. We either prop our head on a pillow or on one arm to look through the correct part of our glasses. Then we would get a “crick in the neck.”

We needed to raise the TV!

We could mount it on the wall but would have to buy a kit. I looked around for a more frugal solution. Then I remembered the hutch in the bedroom with a large mirror set on it.

Hutch with mirror on it "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound"

We brought it out and placed the TV on it. The height was perfect! I moved a bookshelf under the hutch and set the soundboard on it.TV Raised Up on Hutch, "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound"

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Next week is Thanksgiving and I did some serious thinking about after the meal. We eat at noon and my family will usually watch TV. The best seats are on either end of the couch, which has built-in recliners, or in the big recliner. Usually, 1 or 2 will sit in the middle of the couch and the rest will take the chairs which we bring in from the other rooms.

Another problem is we store the toys for our granddaughter in the ottoman. She can’t get to the toys because the one(s) sitting in the middle of the couch have their feet on it. When she is playing, her movements can block the TV. I moved Olivia’s toys to the bookshelf and hid them behind a curtain on a tension bar.

That solved 2 problems!Toys on Shelf Behind Curtain "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound"

Invariably, I am the last to sit down and the only seat left is next to the TV. Everyone can see the TV, but me!

David hung the large mirror over the couch. I sat down in the chair and said, “Ouch!” I had moved a CD organizer to use as a side table next to the chair. It was too tall and it hit my elbow! It disappointed me that I could not see the TV in the mirror!

I got out a smaller mirror and David moved it along the wall until I could see the TV while sitting in my chair. We tried 2 different mirrors until I could see the entire TV in the reflection. (This second mirror was David’s grandmother’s and recently given to us by his aunt. I love having something of hers in my front room.)TV Reflected in Mirror "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound"

I brought up a white bookshelf to put in the bedroom where the hutch was formerly. It wasn’t as deep and that gave us 6 more inches between it and the bed.Shallow Bookshelf Gives More Room "Surround Sound, Not Surround Sight"

I wanted to raise the TV in the bedroom, too. I looked around but couldn’t find anything the right size that was sturdy.

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Back in the front room, I tried a few side tables, that were 3″ above or below the arm of the chair, to replace the CD organizer and finally decided on a square column. (It was a demo of the four different styles available at the lumberyard where my husband worked. They switched companies and he brought it home.)Column Demo Makes a Side Table "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound"

I started to take the CD organizer back downstairs when I realized it was very sturdy. We laid it on its side on the piano and put the TV on top of it. It worked!CD Organizer Raised TV "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound"

I raised both TVs, and can watch them from any seat, without spending any money! It increased the square footage of the front room because the TV stand was a foot deeper. Between the narrow hutch and the mirrors, my room looks much larger.

This weekend look around your family room. Can you switch pieces and free up some square footage for your family this holiday? How about mounting a mirror on the wall across from the TV to let it be viewed by both sides of the room.

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Frugal Thanksgiving Decorations

Some of my favorite blogs, like “The Inspired Room,” posted a Thanksgiving Table preview at the first of November. I thought it was a cool idea and wanted to do the same. Unfortunately, life happened and I still have not finished setting my table! Lol

I use a trick I learned from – set the table and cover it a sheet to protect it from dust! I did manage to get all of my other decorations set out.

 Frugal Thanksgiving Decoration Ideas

1) Make it yourself using recycled materials: I made this turkey out of three baskets, 2 pinecones, 6 husks of dried indian corn (from my son’s preschool teacher), a fake squash pick (nose), 2 hazelnuts (for eyes), and I cut the giblet out of a red freezer container! I took this to the county fair several years ago and won a blue ribbon in the open class for a “recycled project.”

My Turkey made from recycled material won a blue ribbon at the county fair.!

My Turkey made from recycled material won a blue ribbon at the county fair!


2) Use food you have on hand: I poured popcorn into a few bowls in my china cabinet.

I filled a few bowls with popcorn.

I filled a few bowls with popcorn.

3) Use items from other holidays: This mug was given to me for “Secretary’s Day” back in the 1990’s! The color and message say “Thanksgiving” to me!

Being thankful shows appreciation.

Being thankful shows appreciation.

4) Goodwill and Garage Sales: I purchased the turkey napkin holder at a garage sale before 2004. A few weeks ago, I found the matching candlesticks at Goodwill!

Look at Goodwill and garage sales to complete your set.

Look at Goodwill and garage sales to complete your set.

5) Children’s homemade decorations: My baby just turned 23 and my oldest will turn 30 on his next birthday, but I still display the seasonal decorations they made when they were in elementary school.

Put the decorations your kids make in Thanksgiving decoration box.

Store the decorations your kids make in your Thanksgiving decoration box.

6) Don’t Burn the Candles: My granddaughter made this tablescape when she was visiting one day. I had the decorations out and she wanted to help. We decided to use all of the pumpkins on this table. There are two candles in there that I have had for years. I store them in the basement where there is no danger of them melting.

This arrangement consists of: baskets, candles, and salt/pepper shakers.

This arrangement consists of: baskets, candles, and salt/pepper shakers.

7) Paint them yourself: These are empty coke bottles that I painted to look like candy corn.

I used acrylic craft paint to paint the sections.

I used acrylic craft paint to paint the sections.

8) Get out your jewelry: In the bathroom, I just switched out the towels to match the “Turkey” pin I no longer wear.

Use your jewelry on your towels.

Use your jewelry on your towels.


Snow is falling today, and if it were Christmas, it would be beautiful. But it is March and we are tired of winter. I have a project to help you with your cabin fever.


Dream about the house you would buy or build if money were no object. What rooms would be in that house? Make a list of the rooms you would want. I have shared that my home does not have a formal dining room. That is the first room on my list.

Now, look around your home and see if you can carve that space out of a portion of one of your rooms. I have shared several times about making a formal dining room out of half of TV room in the basement.  During the holidays it takes over the entire room.

Move things around and set up you new “space”. You will probably need to give away or throw away some items to make room. Try to bring everything you will need in that space and store it nearby. I store my extra dishes, flatware, chargers, chafing dishes and roasters in boxes underneath the stairs. My tablecloths, runners and napkins are stored in boxes underneath the table itself.

I will show you how I carved out a space for my dream rooms in my home over the next few posts.

My table set for a birthday dinner.

My table set for a birthday dinner.

Don’t Let Your Carpet Fray at the Seams

I noticed the carpet was coming apart at the seam between the living room and the hall. I got out my upholstery needle and regular thread. I took four strands of thread and threaded it in the upholstery needle.

Using the upholstery needle, I sewed the seam back together.

Now when I vacuum, that seam will not be pulled up and it will extend the life of my carpet.

Tweak It

We think we need to totally remodel a room when it is not working, but sometimes all we need to do is tweak it. I have not liked how dark my big room in the basement was and thought I needed to add several more lights.  This is how the table looked on Thanksgiving, 2009.


Then, on a whim, Mr. Frugalfish decided to move the light from one side of a board on the unfinished ceiling to the other side. It made a huge difference. This is how the table looked on Thanksgiving, 2011.



All is needed was a little tweak!

Measure, Plan, Move, Party!

I have written several times, that less is more and sometimes visual space makes all the difference in your house. It is amazing how removing a couple of pieces of furniture and rearranging what is left can do.

I have hosted family dinners for a couple of years now, and I use a room in my basement as the dining room. Here the table is set for Thanksgiving, 2009. If you look closely to the right, you will see a bookcase that is over 10 feet long.

We moved that bookcase to the opposite side of the room a week ago. We gave away a storage unit and took out two tables. That freed enough space to add a table to the end of our big table, and I was able to seat the entire family around the two tables.

This was what the room looked like right before Easter dinner yesterday.

Easter dinner for the extended family.

I didn’t just start moving furniture. I measured everything and cut out pieces of paper to scale, 1 inch for 1 foot, and moved them around on paper first. It is amazing how much room you have when you remove clutter. If you don’t know where to start, visit

I Found Unclaimed Space!

For over 26 years I have lived in the same space. I know this house inside and out. I have caulked every crevice and painted almost every room. I thought I was using all of the space efficiently.

Over Christmas, I got rid of a table in my kitchen and moved a couple of appliances that were on it to the top of my china cabinet. I always decorated the top of my china cabinet and missed having the display space. I realized I was not using all of the available space inside.

Measure, plan and make a pattern.

I decided, instead of stacking the cups on the top shelf, I would hang them from the top by cup hooks. I got paper and measured the available space.

When I lay the cups on the paper, I realized they would not all fit on the top. So, I measured the sides and cut out more paper. I worked on it a few minutes here and there for a couple of weeks until I had a plan that would accommodate all of the cups.

Unsure? Try a temporary solution.

I read if you paint the back of your china cabinet a dark color; it recedes and gives you the optical illusion of a deeper cupboard. I debated painting it, and my husband discouraged it. I wanted to see what it would look like, so I taped black wrapping paper to it with green painter’s tape so there would be no damage. The jury is still out on that decision.

Execute the plan.

I taped my brown paper pattern on the sides and top, and marked where I wanted the cup hooks with a hammer and nail. I wasn’t strong enough to turn the cup hooks, so my husband drilled holes and put them in for me.

After I hung the cups, I was able to put in a few glass Easter decorations. They are safe from getting broken and I will have a new display with each holiday.

Look around you may find some unclaimed space.

My china cabinet.