It’s the De-boo of Our Etsy Shop!

Etsy Shop holiday planners Hallowen


If you’re looking for a way to stay organized and focused on what’s most important for your holidays this year, have I got great news for you!

All of the Smart Solutions planners for holidays and home will be available on our new Etsy shop!

It’s been years since I’ve updated our signature planners that use my POPS system to Plan, Organize, Prioritize and Schedule everything for your holidays. Now you’ll find the Halloween Planner updated and expanded to 16 pages of fangtastic Halloween organizing glory.

Smart Solutions Studio Etsy Shop Halloween Planner


Also up in the shop right now are the Holiday Home Essentials with checklists and shopping lists to get you ready for all of your holiday entertaining including the essential pantry, essential utensils, holiday table essentials (including the best diagram on how to set your table) and the essential guest room and more!

Smart Solutions Studio Etsy Shop Entertaining Essentials



I’ve also posted the Room Arranger room layout toolkit with everything you need to re-arrange the furniture and accessories in every room of your home. Over 40 furniture icons and step-by-step directions make it easy to move things around without breaking your back!

Smart Solutions Studio Room Arranger room planner Etsy shop


Each of the planners is listed for $5 or less! Click on the links or the planner photo to go directly to the shop!

Over the next two weeks I’ll be adding the Thanksgiving and Christmas planners, as well as in-depth holiday handbooks with daily to-do’s, recipes, decor ideas and much more. Stay tuned!

Read More

Ghost Poop Wins the Halloween Pin Race

A few weeks ago, I posted about my most popular original ideas on Pinterest. Now it’s time for a look back at some wickedly fun original Halloween projects and recipes that have been most popular on Pinterest. And can I say that the competition for Halloween re-pins is tough! Some cute ideas, but nowhere near the interest of, say, the college dorm checklist.


#1 Monster Mix Snack Mix

Shower to Monster Mix 2012 043

With four simple ingredients (mummy scabs, ghost poop, witch warts and goblin teeth don’t cha know?) and printable tags, this easy and yummy project has been re-pinned 166 times and liked 8 times since its posting two years ago. The crazy thing is, I adapted and improved on an idea that I got off Pinterest! Get the article and the downloads here.


# 2 Eyeball Confections

Peanut Butter Eyeballs

Ahhh this is still one of my favorite Halloween creations. Several years ago I repurposed a Christmas recipe that was given to me in high school into a Halloween incarnation. The results were just as delicious and really fun to decorate. It’s a no-bake winner with 22 re-pins and 1 like.


#3 Raven Candles

Raven candle wraps

Some great ideas come from seeing something at Pottery Barn and thinking, “That’s nice, but not at that price” and then coming with a similar look for a lot less. That was the case with these Edgar Allen Poe-inspired candle wraps. Easy and inexpensive, this Raven look has been re-pinned 20 times and liked once.


#4 Vampire Martini Glasses

Ghoulishly fabulous for serving up a Halloween brew.

Ghoulishly fabulous for serving up a Halloween brew.

Time was, I’d spend hours concocting and sampling a seasonal cocktail. It was tough research, but someone had to do it. (Not so much any longer. Just a lifestyle change.) And then it became about the glassware, too, and these vampire martini glasses do not disappoint! They serve up non-alcoholic beverages well, too, with 18 re-pins and 1 like.


#5 Witch’s Kitchen

Witch's Kitchen overview

I admit, I start thinking about Halloween sometime in late July and wait impatiently for my favorite online and local craft stores to bring in fresh, new things for me to play with. Last year, though, my best ideas came to life with just a few things I had about the house. Some jars. A bit of bark. And the thought of Macbeth. A theme was born, along with my most elaborate Halloween collection to date. This fun project has been re-pinned 17 times with 1 like.


Runners up:

Click through the gallery below for a few more blasts from Halloweens past. Hope something inspires you to add some Halloween to your haunt this year.


Read More

Spellbinding Books for Halloween Displays

Look in the Halloween aisle of any discount department store, home store, or craft store this year and you’ll see a “witch books” accessory item – a faux stack of books about spells and potions and the like. 


Witch's Spell Books

Usually crafted of resin, these decorative accessories will set you back at least $17 (the cheapest I found) and as much as $30 or more!

You can get the same look (actually, a more authentic look!) literally for pennies a book with your printer, some self-adhesive paper and some printable book labels (see below).

One of my friends saw these in my “Witch’s Kitchen” vignette (using my Macbeth Bottle Labels) and thought the “Curses, Charms & Hexes” book was real. For a brief second, I think she thought, “Is Deanne really a witch?” She seemed a bit concerned asking, “Um … is this real?”

The “spell” for creating these charmed accessories is just 1-2-3.

Step 1: Choose your books!

Create as many books as you’d like, keeping in mind the “odd number rule” for creating vignettes. (Groupings of items look best in odd numbers, like 3 or 5.)

The secret to this project is using well worn, hard cover vintage books; find them at your local library book sale, a thrift store, or a second-hand bookstore. I’ve collected several over the years as they make great additions to bookcase displays. If the binding happens to be black (like my “Charms” book, which was my dad’s civil government book copyright 1928!) you may use it as is; otherwise, cover the book very simply with black paper or cardstock. This will help create a cohesive look.

Step 2: Print the labels!

For the labels, I experimented with light colors, a parchment background, and clear labels. Ultimately, though, I thought the best look was achieved with the darker labels. You can take your pick and download either or both!

Halloween book labels light

Halloween book labels dark

I used Avery® removable full sheet labels (no. 6470) to create the labels with my color printer. A package of 10 full sheet labels will run about $16 at an office supply store. I used two sheets, so I’m about $3.20 in for this project. I like these labels because they are easily repositioned if you have an air bubble or need to adjust the placement, and they come off easily with (in my experience) no damage to the surface. (But that doesn’t mean you should go putting these on irreplaceable or sentimental antique books!)

Simply print the labels on the Avery® label sheets, cut the labels out and place them on your books. How easy is that??

Step 3: Style up!

Here are some styling and decorating tips for your terrifying tomes:

  • Group with witch’s brew ingredient jars and an open “spell book” featuring the spell recipe from “Macbeth.”
  • Display with black, silver and white pumpkins.
  • Place next to a cauldron or witch doll.
  • Create a spooky black and white display on a bookcase inspired by this Pinterest pin.
  • Top off your stack of books with a skull, a crow, or crystal ball.

Of course, feel free to come up with your own labels, too! I’d love to see how you make this project your own; please share your photos on the Facebook page!

The spell books add a touch of authenticity to the Witch's Kitchen vignette, don't you think?

The spell books add a touch of authenticity to the Witch’s Kitchen vignette, don’t you think?

Read More

Create Lawn Ghosts for Less!

Lawn Ghosts for Less

For years I’ve spied a set of three lawn ghosts in Grandin Road’s Halloween catalog. I love them, but the price tag of $89 seems a bit steep to me when I know I can a similar look for a lot less.

This year I finally put the project together, and these lawn ghosts for less look great! It was so much easier than I thought, and the project cost about $44 (plus tax) for materials, and took about 30 minutes to assemble right on the lawn. Here’s what I did to make three lawn ghosts.


Hween and trapeze 1013 079


  • 3 36″ Sturdy Stakes (available at home improvement or garden centers)
  • 3 6″ dense Styrofoam® balls
  • 3 white plastic table covers (84″)
  • 6 yds. white cheesecloth
  • Self-adhesive black felt
  • 18 drip irrigation stakes (optional)
  • Glow in the dark spray paint (optional)
  • Staple gun
  • Hammer
  • Scissors

1. Find the hole started in each Styrofoam® ball; bore the hole a bit deeper, about 2 inches, using the pointy end of one of the sturdy stakes.

2. Lay the cheesecloth on the ground (lawn) and, if a glow-in-the-dark effect is desired, spray the fabric with the spray paint as directed on the can.

3. Position the stakes where you’d like the lawn ghosts to be on the lawn, with the pointy side down. Tap into the ground if needed.

4. Place a Styrofoam® ball on top of each stake.

5. Unfold the table covers and place one on each ball, with the center of the cover in the center of the top of the ball. Secure with 2 staples. Fluff and arrange the bottom edge of the table cover for a pleasing look.

6. Using 2 irrigation stakes, secure the edge of the table cover to the ground in the 9 and 3 positions. Tap into the ground with the hammer if needed.

7. Cut the cheesecloth into 2 yard sections. (You should have 3 pieces of cheesecloth.) Place a piece of cheesecloth over each ghost and secure with 2 staples.

8. Secure the bottom edge of the cheesecloth to the ground with 2 more irrigation stakes, this time at the 12 and 6 positions. Tap with the hammer if needed.

9. Cut shapes for eyes and a mouth for each ghost out of the felt and adhere to the “face” of the ghost. (If you don’t have self-adhesive felt, use regular felt or black fabric and secure with hot glue.)

10. If desired, spray the finished ghosts with a bit more glow-in-the-dark paint.

Style the ghosts with tombstones and graveyard fencing.

Lawn Ghost collage

Read More

How to Conjure a Witch’s Kitchen

Witch's Kitchen overview

This year’s Halloween theme is drawn from the witches’ cave scene in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. When I read the scene, the list of ingredients stood out to me, and I had an “a ha” moment: why not create a witch’s kitchen, complete with the ingredients for the spell? So that’s what I did!

This project is really fun, and curiously easy. I’ve styled it with make believe ingredients, but this would make a great candy buffet for a Halloween party with edible “ingredients” in the jars.

Ingredient collage


  • Empty jars
  • White paper or labels such as Avery® 6470 (see below)
  • Black card stock
  • Ingredient label artwork
  • Black and orange ribbon
  • Double-sided tape

1. Decide on the number of ingredients you’d like to display. I chose 8 ingredients that I thought I could replicate easily enough. You can download the Macbeth Bottle Labels as shown, or create your own.

2. Collect clean, empty jars. I used an apothecary jar that I already had and purchased a new one at World Market for $15. Then I filled in with jars whose previous tenants included pickles, olives, salsa and spaghetti. (It’s a great time to clean out the fridge!)

3. For a cohesive look, use spray paint to paint the jar lids whatever colors you’d like. I used black and silver.

4. Print the jar labels and carefully cut them out. I used Avery® 6470 Removable Full Sheet Labels (about $16 for  a pack of 10 at office supply stores). I only recently discovered these labels, and they are genius for this project. You could just as easily use white paper.

5. Cut black card stock for each label, cutting it just larger than the label. Adhere the labels to the card stock backing. For variety, I wrapped a couple of the jars with a wide band of the black card stock and adhered the label to the band.

6. Embellish the jars with black and orange ribbon; adhere with double-sided tape.  Attach the labels to the ribbon with double-sided tape or hot glue if necessary. For hanging labels as shown on the apothecary jars, punch a small hole at the top of the label and insert the ribbon.

7. Fill the jars with the real or faux ingredients of your choice. Here is where your creativity can roam wild! I had been thinking about Scale of dragon“scale of dragon” and coming up with possibilities like waxy green magnolia leaves or something. And then one day I was in the front yard and the wind had blown some bark from a tree. I looked at the texture and the cracks and thought, with a lick of paint these could be dragon scales! So I went into the garage, dusted off the bark and hit the pieces with some olive green spray paint and just a smidge of black spray paint. I love the look!

Here’s what I used to fill the jars:

  • Scale of Dragon – tree bark
  • Slips of yew – evergreen cuttings
  • Eye of newt – black beans
  • Filet of fenny snake – beef jerky
  • Root of hemlock – twigs
  • Wool of bat – steel wool
  • Teeth of wolf – fake teeth (about $4 at Halloween stores)
  • Toad venom – colored muddy water

8. Style these jars with a copy of the recipe, printed on parchment paper for full effect. (Download a copy of the Macbeth recipe here.) For this look, I made a book stand by placing a binder (wrapped in black fabric) on a silver candle stand, and then placed the recipe page in my grandmother’s well-worn cookbook for an authentic look. A piece of black seam binding creates a page marker.


Witch's Kitchen detail

Round out your witch’s kitchen display with candles, mercury glass bottles, a skull and a crystal ball. Look around your house for accessories than can translate into this theme and add to the look.

Oh! And don’t forget the witch’s other spell books. I’ll give you the instructions for that project tomorrow.

Happy Haunting!


Read More

Soup to Vase? Creating Home Decor in Minutes

Soup Can Vase


Ever since I started blogging about home decor and holidays, I’ve been a big proponent of using what you have to decorate. This easy and fun project ticks all those boxes: it reuses something that would be headed for trash or recycling, plus leftover paper or a custom collage printed with your home printer.

It’s … a vase made from a soup can! If you’re on Pinterest at all (follow me here!), you’ve probably seen some iteration of this project, either as a utensil caddy for summer parties or as a pencil cup for a budget office makeover.

Yes, the simple soup can has a variety of uses! This year I’m decorating soup cans to use as vases—one in the powder room and one in the hall bath.

Soup Can Vase 3

For this project, you’ll need a clean, empty soup can. I prefer Progresso® cans with the tab top that leaves a clean, smooth edge.

You may use whatever decorative paper you desire—something that coordinates with your style and your décor. The hall bath features last year’s art project, and I’m covering the “vase” with the same wrapping paper I used for the artwork, and the trim coordinates with the shower curtain valance.

Soup Can Vase 2


This year my powder room has a vintage greeting card theme, so I created a vintage inspired wrap with clipart purchased from for $3. I just love the results!! I could use this wrap on a pillar candle, or a votive cup, or use it as a napkin ring.

Vintage collage wrap


See how I put together the collage (in under 10 minutes!) in this video:



Soup can
Black acrylic craft paint
Decorative paper
Double-sided tape
Ribbon/trim of choice

1. Paint the top edge of the can with the craft paint. (I noticed the Progresso® cans had a little rim at the top edge and I wanted to butt the paper right up to it for a smoother appearance.)

2. Measure the height (up to the top ridge) and diameter of the can. Transfer the measurements to a piece of decorative paper, adding ½ to the length (diameter) for overlap. Cut the paper to size.

3. Wrap the paper around the can and secure with double-sided tape, overlapping by ½ inch.

4. If desired, trim your “vase” with ribbon, rick rack – whatever coordinates with your décor.

5. Fill with orange roses and enjoy! For two arrangements I used two dozen roses from the grocery store. For a little change of texture, I added some twigs from the yard that I spray painted black, and included some of the filler included with the flowers.

So, how about some soup for dinner, and a quick craft project afterwards?

The vintage vase looks great in the powder room.

The vintage vase looks great in the powder room.

Read More